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Small Bird and Bacon Stew with Walnuts Or Hazelnuts

6 Fatty rashers of bacon, chopped roughly
3 Cloves garlic
4 Pigeons or other small game birds (6 if very small)
225 g (8 oz) mushrooms, whatever variety, chopped roughly
75 g (3 oz) roughly chopped roasted hazelnuts or walnuts
300 ml (10 fl oz, 1 1/4 cups) real ale
150 ml (5 fl oz, 3/4 cup) water
2 Bay leaves (up to 3)
A little salt and freshly ground black pepper
6 Coarse slices brown bread


Fry the bacon, with the garlic, till it is lightly browned in a heavy bottomed casserole. Add birds and brown on all sides. Add the mushrooms and nuts, continue to cook for a couple of minutes, then add the ale and water with the bay leaves.


Bring to the boil, cover and simmer very gently for 2 - 2 1/2 hours-- the birds should be falling off the bone. Remove the birds from the juices, cool juices completely and remove any excess fat. The birds can be served whole on or off the bone. If the latter, carve them while they are cold then return to the skimmed juices and reheat gently. Adjust the seasoning to taste and serve either the whole birds of the slices on the pieces of bread, with plenty of the juices and "bits". A good green salad to follow is the best accompaniment.



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