Oreiller de la Belle Aurore

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Excerpted from Larousse Gastronomique: The Encyclopedia of Food, Wine, and Cookery
by Prosper Montagne, originally published in French in 1938

Note: This recipe begins with a few paragraphs of background, so you can skip to the actual recipe. Also note the recipe for pickled sheep's tongues from the same cookbook.


"In his book La Table au pays de Brillat-Savarin, Lucien Tendret gives a recipe for this grandiose game pie, which, he says, was one of Brillat-Savarin's favorite dishes."

"'At midday,' wrote Tendret, 'we would sit at table, drink Cote-Grele wine, from Brillat-Savarin's vineyard, and eat the traditional pie, square shaped and for that reason called l'Oreiller de la Belle Aurore after Brillat-Savarin's mother, Claudine-Aurore Recamier.'"

"Lucien Tendret's recipe for this pie was modified by Phileas Gilbert, and it is this version that we quote below."

"'In a pie in which game is the principal element the flavour of game meat must be the predominating flavour and the addition of even the smallest quantity of panada, advocated by Tendret, is superfluous. A panada (of which there are various kinds) has its uses and is even essential in certain forecemeats in which it acts as a binding agent, an element affecting liasion, but not in this case.'"

"'Bone marrow fat, indicated by Tendret as part of the composition, does not go at all well in a cold pie and can with advantage be replaced by fat goose liver.The same applies to calf's sweetbreads included in the filling, which is more suitable as an ingredient of a hot pie. Finally, the actual method of preparing the paste is somewhat confused and we prefer to interpret it rather than carry it out to the letter.'"


  • "'Choose a plump, tender pheasant, bone it, having first cut off the drumsticks; season with a good pinch of spiced salt and put into an earthenware casserole with 5 tablespoons of fine champagne brandy and the same amount of Madeira.'"
  • "'Take a big fat goose liver, remove all sinews and stud it generously with quarters of fresh, peeled truffles. Season with spiced salt and put it on the pheasant. Leave to marinate for one hour, turning both the pheasant and the liver from time to time.'"
  • "'Cut into big dice 3/4 pound (350 grams) of wild rabbit meat, the flesh from the drumsticks (which should previously be skinned), 5 ounces (150 grams) of fillet of pork, 5 ounces (150 grams) of round of veal and 14 ounces (400 grams) of fresh fat bacon. First pound each of these ingredients separately, then put them all into the mortar, with 7 ounces (200 grams) of raw goose liver and 1 1/2 to 2 tablespoons (40 or 50 grams) of spiced salt (depending on the temperature). Continue to pound until all the ingredients have blended into an absolutely homogenous mixture, adding, little by little, two eggs beaten as if for an omelette. Rub the forcemeat through a sieve into a bowl, add 3 1/2 ounces (100 grams) of fresh, finely chopped truffles and keep in a cool place. When ready to use, add the marinated pheasant and goose liver to the forcemeat.'"
  • "'Meanwhile, bone two woodcocks, which should be just right for use. Keep the trail.'"
  • "'Saute in butter 3 1/2 ounces (100 grams) of chicken livers, as well as the livers of the pheasant and the woodcocks. (These should be fried very lightly, just enough to stiffen them.) Add a teaspoon of chopped shallot, a pinch of spiced salt and 2 tablespoons (20 grams) of fresh mushroom parings. Put on the fire for 2 minutes and dilute with two tablespoons of Madeira.'"
  • "'Pound first these livers in a mortar, then the woodcock meat. Combine these two ingredients, add 3 1/2 ounces (100 grams) of raw goose liver, 2 to 3 slices (50 grams) of finely shredded bacon, the trail of woodcocks, a pinch of spiced salt, a fresh, peeled truffle (about two ounces, 60 grams) and continue to pound in a mortar until the mixture is perfectly smooth. Rub through a sieve and keep by.'"
  • "'Using 4 3/4 cups (600 grams) of sieved flour, 2 teaspoons (12 grams) of salt, 1 1/2 cups (3 deciliters) of water and 2 tablespoons (30 grams) of butter, prepare semi-puff pasty....'"
  • "'When ready, roll out two-thirds of the pastry into 12-inch sheets. Line the middle of this rolled-out piece of pastry with thin bacon rashers (slices), covering about 7 square inches of the surface and, therefore, leaving a border of pastry about 5 inches to use to enclose the filling. Spread half of the first forcemeat on the bacon rashers in an even layer.'"
  • "'Spread the pheasant on the table (skin downwards), cover with half of the woodcock forcemeat, put the goose liver on top and cover with the rest of the forcemeat. Bring the edge of the pheasant's skin and flesh together, so as to enclose the liver and to form a kind of slightly flattened galantine. Place this galantine on the layer of forcemeat spread on the pastry. Cover completely with the other half of the forcemeat and on top of that by a few thin rashers of bacon. Sprinkle with a pinch of spiced salt, add a small pinch of crushed bay leaf and a little powdered dry thyme.'"
  • "'Roll out the rest of the pastry into a sheet about 7 inches square, rolling in out a little thinner than the first piece. Pinch up the edges of the first piece of pastry all round the filling. Cover with the second piece of pastry and, by pressing with the fingers, seal up the edges, having first carefully moistened them with water to make the pastry adhere....'"
  • "'Put three square scallop-edged pieces of pastry, each of a different size, placed on on top of the other, in the middle of the pie and make a hole in the center to allow steam to escape during cooking.'"
  • "'Brush the pie on top and all round with beaten egg...[and] put into a hot oven.... Allow from 15 to 16 minutes per pound (30 to 32 minutes per kilo).'"
  • "'When cooked and the pastry is no more than warm, pour 3/4 cup (1 1/2 deciliters) of very good game liquid aspic jelly through the hole in the top.'"
  • "'This pie should be prepared at least 24 hours in advance.' (Phileas Gilbert.)"

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