Pheasant Pies/Empadas de Faisão

“Empadas” (pies) are a common snack in cafes all over Portugal and part of portuguese culinary tradition for centuries (royal chef Domingos Rodrigues dedicates 41 recipes to empadas in his “Arte de Cozinha” from 1680, the first Portuguese cookbook). Today, you are mostly likely to find them filled with chicken, roast piglet or perhaps salted cod. This is a recipe that takes advantage of the dense taste of pheasant to provide an absolutely moorish filing for this exquisite finger food. Shortcrust pastry is ideal for this as it is light enough to let the filling shine but you could experiment with puff pastry as well. Perfect as a snack, light lunch or for a picnic. Can be served hot or cold but much, much better hot out of the oven…


Makes 12 small empadas

For the filling 

1 Pheasant

1 cup of cider

2 shallots (finely chopped)

1 cup of smoked bacon cubes

1 tbsp flour

1 tsp allspice

1 tbsp olive oil

1 tbsp tomato paste

12 pitted black olives

Salt and pepper


For the shortcrust pastry

Use your favourite shortcrust recipe but here’s one based on Escoffier’s bible “Le Guide Culinaire”!

250 gr sifted flour

5 g salt

125 butter

1 dl water

1 egg yolk


Method for the filling

1. Debone the pheasant so that you end up with meat from breast and thighs (no skin).

2. Heat the olive oil in a medium sized pan and add the finely chopped shallots.

3. Cook the shallots for a couple of minutes at medium heat and then add the bacon. Fry until most of the bacon fat is rendered (take care not to burn the shallots).

4. Add the pheasant (chopped into small cubes), fry and stir for a couple of minutes then add the flour and keep stirring.

5. Add cider, let alcohol evaporate then add tomato paste and keep stirring. You should achieve a smooth slightly thickened  sauce enveloping the pieces of pheasant and bacon. Set aside.


Method for the pastry

1. Make a well in the flour and place the salt, butter and water in the centre.

2. Mix until (with fingertips) until it forms a paste.

3. Mix for a moment then knead it twice, form into a ball and keep in the fridge wrapped in cling film.

(For those of you with a Thermomix, the basic shortcrust pastry recipe in the TM book is easy to make and works perfectly for these pies though you might need a double recipe)


Final assemblage

1. Generously butter small pie moulds (muffin moulds).

2. Roll pastry to about 3 mm thickness on a floured surface and cut to fit the base and sides of your mould.

3. Cut circles with a pastry cutter or glass/cup to cover the tops.

4. Place pastry on the moulds, fill up to 3/4 with the pheasant, add a pitted olive and cover with a circle of pastry, wetting the edge with water beforehand for sealing.

5. Once pies are assembled brush top with an egg wash (egg yolk mixed with a tso of water) and put in a 180C oven for about 20 minutes.





Published by

Pedro Rebelo

Pedro is a composer, sound artist and performer. In 2002, he was awarded a PhD by the University of Edinburgh where he conducted research in both music and architecture. Pedro has recently led participatory projects involving communities in Belfast, favelas in Maré, Rio de Janeiro, travelling communities in Portugal and a slum town in Mozambique. This work has resulted in sound art exhibitions at venues such as the Metropolitan Arts Centre, Belfast, Centro Cultural Português Maputo, Espaço Ecco in Brasilia and Parque Lage and Museu da Maré in Rio, Museu Nacional Grão Vasco and MAC Nitéroi. His music has been presented in venues such as the Melbourne Recital Hall, National Concert Hall Dublin, Queen Elizabeth Hall, Ars Electronica, Casa da Música, and in events such as Weimarer Frühjahrstage fur zeitgenössische Musik, Wien Modern Festival, Cynetart and Música Viva. His work as a pianist and improvisor has been released by Creative Source Recordings and he has collaborated with musicians such as Chris Brown, Mark Applebaum, Carlos Zingaro, Evan Parker and Pauline Oliveros as well as artists such as Suzanne Lacy. His writings reflect his approach to design and creative practice in a wider understanding of contemporary culture and emerging technologies. Pedro has been Visiting Professor at Stanford University (2007), senior visiting professor at UFRJ, Brazil (2014) and Collaborating Researcher at INEM-md Universidade Nova, Lisboa (2016). He has been Music Chair for international conferences such as ICMC 2008, SMC 2009, ISMIR 2012 and has been invited keynote speaker at ANPPOM 2017, ISEA 2017, CCMMR 2016 and EMS 2013. At Queen's University Belfast, he has held posts as Director of Education, Director of Research and Head of School. In 2012 he was appointed Professor of Sonic Arts at Queen's and awarded the Northern Bank's "Building Tomorrow's Belfast" prize. He has recently been awarded two major grants from the Arts and Humanities Research Council including the interdisciplinary project “Sounding Conflict”, investigating relationships between sound, music and conflict situations. Ongoing research interests include immersive sound design and augmented listening experiences. Pedro has been appointed Director of the Sonic Arts Research Centre in 2021.

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