Pheasant Potpie

pheasant potpie with spelt crust
Photo: Mikkel Vang
Prep Time:
35 mins
Total Time:
3 hrs 10 mins
1 9-by- inch potpie

Don't be intimidated by pheasant! The lean yet tender meat is just as easy to cook as chicken, and paired with a spelt crust, makes this potpie truly special occasion-worthy. For the pastry decorating technique, see our step-by-step photos.



  • 1 ½ cups unbleached all-purpose flour

  • 1 cup spelt flour

  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt

  • 1 teaspoon sugar

  • 2 sticks cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces

  • 6 to 8 tablespoons ice-cold water


  • 2 whole pheasants (each about 2 pounds)

  • 1 dried bay leaf

  • 4 cups low-sodium chicken broth

  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter

  • 1 large onion, finely diced (2 cups)

  • 2 carrots, finely diced (1 cup)

  • 2 stalks celery, finely diced (1 cup)

  • cup unbleached all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting

  • 1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves

  • 1 cup frozen peas, thawed

  • 1 ½ cups frozen pearl onions, thawed

  • cup chopped fresh parsley

  • Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper

  • 1 large egg, lightly beaten


  1. Crust:

    Combine flours, salt, and sugar in the bowl of a food processor. Add butter; pulse until mixture resembles coarse meal, with a few pea-size pieces remaining. Evenly drizzle with 6 tablespoons cold water. Pulse until dough is crumbly but holds together when squeezed (if necessary, add up to 2 tablespoons more cold water). Turn dough out onto a piece of plastic wrap. Press into a flattened rectangle, wrap in plastic, and refrigerate at least 1 hour or up to overnight. (Dough can be frozen up to 1 month; thaw in refrigerator the day before using.)

  2. Filling:

    In a large pot, combine pheasants, bay leaf, broth, and enough water to cover (6 to 8 cups). Bring to a boil over high heat, then reduce to a simmer and cook until pheasants are cooked through, about 20 minutes. Transfer pheasants to a plate; let cool. When cool enough to handle, pull meat from bones and cut into 1/2-inch pieces. (You should have about 4 cups meat.) Discard skin and bones.

  3. Skim fat from broth; return to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce to 4 cups.

  4. In a large skillet, melt butter over medium heat. Add onion, carrots, and celery and cook until softened, about 10 minutes. Add flour and thyme and stir until vegetables are well coated, about 2 minutes. Slowly add reduced broth, whisking constantly. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer until thickened, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in pheasant meat, peas, pearl onions, and parsley. Season with salt and pepper. Pour filling into a 9-by- 13-inch baking dish.

  5. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. On a lightly floured work surface, roll dough into a 13-by-16-inch rectangle. Cut two 1-inch-wide strips from long side, and one 1-inch-wide strip from short side. From these strips, cut long, oval feathers. Using a butter knife, score a line along center of each feather (don't slice all the way through). Using a paring knife, cut several short, parallel slices along outer edges of feathers to create fringe. Transfer feathers to freezer. To create herringbone pattern on remaining dough, gently press the tines of a fork into pastry (not going all the way through). Starting from top left corner, make diagonal hatch marks along edge of pastry. Switch direction of fork tines and repeat, creating alternating rows, until entire pastry is covered. Cut a vent in center of dough with a 1-inch round cutter; refrigerate until firm, about 20 minutes. Center dough over filling. Tuck extra dough under while gently pinching to crimp edge. Brush egg wash over dough. Arrange feathers on crust and brush with egg wash. Place dish on a rimmed baking sheet; bake until crust is golden brown and filling is bubbling, 50 to 55 minutes. Let cool 20 minutes before serving.

Cook's Notes

Pheasant is available at, or you can substitute a 3 1/2-to-4-pound chicken. The filling can be prepared up to two days in advance and refrigerated in an airtight container.

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