Roast Pheasant Ravioli using Nettle & Wild Garlic Pasta

Our Wild Garlic patch...

Our Wild Garlic patch…

This post is, by way of leftovers, a follow up to Beer Brined Pheasant. My most recent repeat of this recipe worked very well using Badger Blanford Flyer and Brains Barry Island IPA to create the brine, admittedly I used these beers because I had no interest in drinking them as they’re too sweet for my tastes. We enjoyed our roast brined pheasant with Hardknott Dark Energy, there’s a proper synergy between a stout and a roast in my opinion. Dinner used a breast and a leg each – the rest of the meat was stripped off the carcass and along with a creamy textured roast potato was used for the recipe idea presented in this post.

Nettles & Wild Garlic in a basket

Our wild harvest…

This post is also, by way of chance, suitable for “Saint Patrick’s Day“. The recipe celebrates the passing of the winter by enjoying the last of the game season’s pheasant – and welcomes in the spring by way of fresh young nettle tops and wild garlic. Using the latter green ingredients a green pasta is made – green, the colour of Ireland. One can imagine the timing of Saint Patrick’s Day probably has at its roots the celebration of spring. Like many people around the world “I have an Irish [insert ancestor]” – in my case grandmother. However I never met her and have no cultural links to Ireland and have never particularly partaken of the global piss-up that Saint Paddy’s has come to be known as. Take this recipe as you will, homage to Saint Patrick or to spring – my preference lies to the latter.

On Saturday March 15th we visited a local woodland known for its sea of ransoms – aka wild garlic. We found it to be just coming up, but plenty there to gather a couple of handfuls. We also gathered nettle tops. Enjoying the general pleasantness of early spring – warmer temperatures, woods still clear of difficult growth, with violet and primrose blossom forming colourful highlights on the woodland floor.



The making of the pasta is as for a spinach pasta – use your favourite recipe but use nettle tops and wild garlic leaves in place of spinach. I used 65g of de-stemmed young nettle tops and 35g of wild garlic leaf. Two litres of water on the boil with two tablespoons of salt in it, I’ve read that the salt helps the leaves retain their green colour – blanch nettle tops for 1 minute, placing wild garlic leaves in when there is just 15 seconds of the minute left. Pour leaves into a strainer and press out as much liquid out as you can. Pop into a little food processor with one whole egg and emulsify to a bright paste.

De-stemmed nettle leaves and wild garlic leaves


Leaves that have been poached and then de-watered in a salad spinner

Poached & Spun

Puréed with an egg

Puréed with an egg

For the pasta start with 500g of good plainflour and one teaspoon of salt. Rub in the green paste. Add egg until a stiff dough is formed – a good pasta dough starts off pretty stiff and difficult to work. In addition to the green paste my dough used one more whole egg plus the yolks of five eggs. This came together using wet hands and was kneeded for a good 15 minutes on a dampened benchtop. Wrap in clingfilm and place aside at room temperature to relax for at least an hour.

To make the filling finely dice a small onion (~100g) and sauté in a teaspoon of oil. When translucent add the stripped pheasant meat and fry for a couple more minutes to heat. Add a glug of dry white wine or hefeweizen and let this bubble for a minute. Pop the contents of the pan into a small food processor. Add the white of one egg and one creamy roast potato (~100g - also leftover from pheasant roast) and blend to a smooth paste. I then had to had two tablespoons of breadcrumbs to make the paste a little more workable. Stir in 100g of fine-grated rich but not astringent cheese – I used an extra mature gouda – and a tablespoon full of finely sliced wild garlic leaf. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Pop this paste into the fridge until you are ready to make your pasta parcels.

Rolled pasta

Rolled pasta

Make the parcels however you like. I chose a ravioli form as it is pretty simple to make. Using my pasta roller to roll a handful of dough at a time. I’ve done this using both my thinnest and second from thinnest settings and both work, the thinnest is a little harder to work with and some ravioli may bust whilst cooking – but the result is lighter and more delicate. Fold the pasta in half to find the centre point, note it, unfold. Use a cutter to lightly mark circles into the dough (at the thinner end if there is one).  Put just a teaspoon of filling into the centre of each circle. Mark around each bit of filling with a damp finger if your dough seems dry. Fold the pasta back over and carefully press out air pockets. Use the blunt end of a smaller cutting ring to press down the dough and then the sharp end of a fluted cutter to cut out the ravioli. Place on a floured surface, semolina “flour” is preferable. You can make and freeze these in sheets which when solid can be put into freezer bags.









To cook from fresh plunge into salted boiling water for just three minutes – I call seven or eight of my ravioli a good serve. I also cut a few pasta offcuts into rough linguine which went in for just the final minute. At the same time melt a generous tablespoon of butter per serve in half a teaspoon of warm oil. When the butter is melted and just barely bubbling toss in a teaspoon per serve of finely sliced wild garlic leaf, sizzle briefly, add a glug of white wine of hefeweizen, bubble briefly, then bring off the heat. Strain out your ravioli and toss in the wild garlic butter.

Melted Butter in a saucepan with a little oil

Melt Butter

Shredded wild garlic leaf piled in melted butter

Add Wild Garlic

Lightly sizzled wild garlic leaf with added splash of hefeweizen


Pasta tossed in beery wild garlic leaf buttersauce.


Lay out to serve, drizzle over wild garlic butter (just melt a little more butter in the pan if needed), garnish with a wild garlic leaf and some fresh spring primrose blossom if you have any. (Our primrose is from our garden. I have heard that it is illegal to harvest wild primrose – although I can find no reference to it Schedule 8 of the Wildlife & Countryside Act. Anyway – primrose is an excellent garden plant to grow for garnish use as they’re attractive, edible, and have a long flowering season.)

Plated up... roast pheasant ravioli with nettle & wild garlic pasta.

Plate up!

Beer match?! Getting into the Irish spirit is pretty difficult with beer – as we see little good Irish beer in England. I used to be partial to a Guinness but find it a bit thin and flavourless by my standards these days especially when stupidly “extra cold”, albeit Guinness is still my default in mainstream pubs with no good beer. Guinness, or any dry stout, isn’t going to work with this dish anyway in my opinion.

Ireland does have a rapidly growing microbrewing scene that seems very interesting but alas I’ve had no experience of its output. However in Tesco you can buy a couple of Franciscan Well beers, Friar Weisse and Rebel Red Ale – both well rated for their respective styles on RateBeer. (Yes, they’re owned by Molson Coors… whoopy doo – drink the beer not the company…) I popped into a local Tesco and picked up a couple of each to try with the pasta. I think both work well enough but I had a preference for the Friar Weisse – it was complementary to the soft buttery flavours of the ravioli dish, with a cutting lightness and freshness. The other advantage of the Friar Weisse in this context is a glug of it can be used in the buttery sauce instead of the white wine – I did this the second time around when I had the beers to hand and it worked very well. The Rebel Red Ale by comparison just added too much an extra strong layer of flavour at odds with the food. Were I eating with wine this is to me most certainly a white wine dish – a soft Italian white perhaps.

Serve, of course, with beer.

Serve with beer, of course. Something Irish for St Patrick’s Day.

3 Good Things: Pasta, Smoked Salmon, Egg

This recipe has been devised in response to Hugh’s “Three Good Things“ challenge. I am, of course, endeavouring to add beer as a sneaky fourth “good thing”. I’m adding it as a subtle addition — much the way the chefs in the TV episodes will gladly include brilliant oils, vinegars, stocks, and herbs without giving them a headline credit.

Who doesn’t have a collection of dried pasta in the cupboard? Starting with a bag of dry pasta a variety of starchy dinners can be ready in about 15 minutes. Butter and garlic. Mushroom and bacon. Grilled vegetables and chopped tomato. Always a grating of pecorino romano or similar. An endless list of simple favourites… however I’m taking a different tack: pasta salad! Perhaps it is a bit naff? I’m going to try to avoid the soggy gloopy sort of salad you may buy in the supermarket when you’re in a hurry and really bring my three ingredients together in a perfectly balanced taste sensation. Well, that’s the plan.

Beer Mayonnaise

This is the hardest part, but I assure you making a quick mayonnaise is dead easy really. I prefer to stick to a recipe that uses two or three yolks, as I find a whole egg usually produces more mayo than I ever need. Using just yolks also gives you a nicely warm coloured mayonnaise. This is also where I’m adding my sneaky dash of beer, I’m using an incredibly zesty, hoppy golden ale for this that adds an intriguing zing to the flavour. There are many such ales around these days as the style is very popular. I’m using Revival from Moor Beer Company, it’s a great beer and this year it won the “beer of the festival” award at a CAMRA beer festival I help out at (I order the beer!) The Moor brewery is located in Somerset and Justin, the owner and brewer, takes special pride in producing seriously flavourful beers with a focus on naturalness and freshness. Anyway, on the the recipe…

Mayo IngredientsIngredients

  • yolks from 3 small, or 2 large eggs — deeper the colour the better!
    • mine come from a stand out the front of a house just up the road
  • “sufficient” light flavoured oil
    • I ended up using about 220g of plain sunflower oil
  • 50g extra virgin olive oil or cold pressed rapeseed oil
    • I’ve used rapeseed oil from our nearby Coveney Farm
  • 2 tsp vinegar
    • cider or white wine is best
  • some hoppy golden ale
    • I’ve used about 5 tbsp of Moor Beer Company’s “Revival”
    • You could tweak this by using different sorts of beers too, a rich double-IPA would work well too I think.
  • ground white pepper— to taste
    • about 5 pinches in my case (just a tiny bit of what’s in the photo!)
  • salt— to taste
    • about 3 pinches in my case (just a tiny bit of what’s in the photo!)

Separate the egg yolks into a large mixing bowl and, whisking continuously, gradually drizzle in the 50g of flavourful oil. When done whisk in the vinegar. Then continue with a drizzle of the lighter oil until you have a very thick mayonnaise that will form peaks, wobble a little when tapped, and stick to a spoon held upside down, etc. Whisk in beer a tablespoon at a time until a thick creamy texture is achieved, akin to a thick salad cream.

A helping hand is useful! Sticks to a spoon...

Add beer a tablespoon at a time... Until a loose creamy consistency is achieved...

Finally add in white pepper and salt to taste, be conservative with the salt at this stage as the smoked salmon in the salad will be quite salty already. The flavour was pretty good, with a definite beery and hoppy hint to it. I’d be interested to try this again with something with more body, the Moor Hoppiness perhaps or a BrewDog Hardcore IPA.

Egg and Smoked Salmon Pasta Salad

Salad ingredients

  • 1 pack of fusilli cooked, drained and cooled
    • very important that this is “al dente” or your pasta salad will be a soggy mess
  • mayonnaise (from above)
    • Add as much as you feel is sufficient. I used it all… but it was probably a little too much. Any leftover mayo could be used another day. It would probably be excellent with some beer battered fish.
  • 1 small red onion — very finely chopped
    • half a larger onion in my case
  • 1 small garlic clove — chopped and crushed to nearly a paste
  • 200g of sliced smoked salmon— roughychopped
    • if you can find them smoked salmon “pieces”, aka “offcuts”, are just as good and often much cheaper
  • 4 boiled eggs — cut into 8ths or 12ths
  • 3 spring onions — finely chopped
  • a few sprigs of parsley — finely chopped

When I cook a pasta like fusilli I boil it in loads of water with a generous dose of salt, but I don’t bother with oil in the water (it never seems to do anything but make the pan harder to clean). When cooked I turn it out into a colander, drain well, drizzle with rapeseed oil, and toss until the pasta is evenly oiled. Set it aside to cool to room temperature, you can then refrigerate it for later if desired. In fact this is a recipe I’d typically prepare from last night’s leftover pasta.

Reserve a few prettier bits of boiled egg, some pinches of chopped parsley, a couple of tablespoons of green chopped spring onion, and a few bits of smoked salmon for garnish. Combine everything else except the mayonnaise in a bowl, use your hands to ensure the smoked salmon is well broken up and distributed.

Finish off by using a large spoon to stir through the mayonnaise, ensuring everything is well coated. Move the salad to a presentation bowl, scatter over the reserved garnish ingredients, and complete with a sprig of fresh parsley. Done! This will fill the bellies of about 4 hungry people, or stretch to 6 with some sides, or 8 or more if provided as a side-dish.


Serve with a a glass of the zesty golden ale used in the mayo. This is a beaut summer brunch on a lazy Sunday morning, or late lunch for the lazier. To make more of a meal of it serve as a salad alongside something grilled on the BBQ — salmon steaks perhaps?

When I do this again, which I certainly will, I’ll probably add something else to just lift it up a bit. Some roughly chopped capers perhaps, or gherkin. It could do with a little extra *zing*.