This easy-to-cook recipe will have you rushing to the kitchen to try it out and tempt your taste buds.

Ingredients (serves 2):

  • 4 fledging rook breasts
  • 1 chicken breast
  • 4oz chopped beef
  • Packet puff pastry
  • Grated carrot and celeriac
  • 1 tbsp mashed potato
  • 2 fl oz beef stock
  • Salt and pepper

It’s important to only use ‘brancher’ rooks for this dish because their meat is tender and flavoursome. ‘Branchers’ are birds having just left the nest, but unable to fly.

You only have a couple or three days to make the most of this harvest so make a daily inspection of the rookery to check on the state of play.

How to prepare rooks:

  1. Place the rook on its back and dislocate the leg by twisting it out and away from the main body. This will also tear the skin under the feathers
  2. Place both thumbs into the tear and start to peel back the skin and feathers towards the head until the breasts are revealed
  3. Slice down the breastbone, keeping the knife at a slight angle. Gently ease the flesh off as you cut towards the wings
  4. Wipe the breast clean and it’s ready for the pan

Method:

  1. Cut all the meat into largish chunks so that it is all the same size
  2. Seal off the meat for a few minutes then place in a pan with the gravy and gently simmer for 30 minutes. Add the grated celeriac and carrot half way through and season to taste
  3. Whilst the meat is cooking, line a small greased ovenproof bowl with puff pastry
  4. Set the meat aside to cool slightly and then stir in mashed potato
  5. Fill the pastry-lined bowl by putting the larger pieces of meat at the bottom, then alternate rook, chicken and beef
  6. Put a lid on the pie and crimp the edges
  7. Make vent holes, sprinkle with salt and pepper and cook at 180 degrees for 30 minutes
  8. The pie should either be served with salad and pickes or with mashed potato and parsnips.

ABOUT THE CHEF
When he’s not out shooting, Mark is the Head Chef at The Finch’s Arms in Hambleton – a traditional 17th century English country inn, with beamed ceilings, cask ales and a small bustling bar with magnificent views overlooking Rutland Water.

Formerly the proprietor of the Tollemache Arms in Buckminster, Leicestershire, Mark has also been chef at the Restaurant Pierre Orsi, Lyons and Raymond Blanc’s le Manoir aux Quat’Saisons in Oxford.

www.finchsarms.co.uk