Wednesday, 7 November 2012

Homemade Venison Game Pie

Red deer venison game pie is served with homemade chips and garden peas

A game pie is very often - or perhaps even most often - made with a variety of three or more different types of wild game. That does not mean for a second, however, that an excellent game pie can not be made with just one type of wild game. In this instance, advantage was taken of a really good deal obtained on Scottish red deer venison and the pie was delicious. This recipe will work with any type of venison, from moose, to caribou to roe deer.

Ingredients for Two Servings

3/4lb chopped venison haunch
Olive oil
2 medium carrots
1 medium onion
1 tsp dried thyme
Salt and pepper
1 pint fresh beef stock
1/2 bottle red wine*
1/2lb puff pastry
Flour for rolling the pastry
Beaten egg for glazing the pastry
Homemade chips/French fries as required
Frozen garden peas as required

* Do you get confused about which type of red wine you should use in your cooking? I have heard some top chefs say that only the cheapest of red wine should be used in cooking (to save money) but equally, I have heard other top chefs say that only quality red wine that you would really enjoy drinking should be used. If top chefs can't agree, how can we be expected to judge? Personally, I tend to go somewhere between the two. You don't want to use a wine that is of such poor quality that you couldn't possibly force yourself to drink it - but equally, why waste the good stuff that is far better consumed straight from a glass? The bottom line is that it's all down to personal taste, as well as the nature of the dish you are making. In this particular instance, it doesn't really matter - go with what you can afford and what you prefer and don't get too hung up on the issue. 

Vension is quickly browned in a little olive oil


Add a tablespoon or so of olive oil (a good glug, is the technical term!) to a large pot and gently heat. Add the diced venison and brown and seal, stirring with a wooden spoon. This will take a couple of minutes.

Carrot, onion and seasoning is added to the browned venison

Peel the carrots and onion. Slice the carrots in to discs. Half the onions and finely slice. Add the vegetables and thyme to the venison and season. Stir for a further minute or so.

Red wine and beef stock are added to the venison and vegetables

Pour the stock in to the pot along with the red wine. Bring to a simmer and cook in this way for two hours, stirring occasionally and carefully keeping your eye on the liquid level. If your simmer is gentle enough, it should be fine, but you can top up with a little hot water if necessary. After two hours, try a small bit of the venison - it should be beautifully tender. Turn off the heat, cover and leave to cool completely. (This will take around another couple of hours but note that the meat combination could now be refrigerated to assemble the pie for dinner the following evening).
Venison and stock ready to be topped with pastry for the pie

Put the meat and stock in to a pie dish, measuring 9" by 6". The stock should almost but not quite cover the meat.

Rolling the pastry for the venison game pie

Roll out your pastry on a clean, dry, floured surface to about 10" by 7", so that it will be slightly larger than the pie dish. Lay it carefully on top of the dish and crimp and tuck the edges.

Venison game pie is ready for the oven

Glaze the pie with beaten egg, using a pastry brush. Remember also to cut a steam vent in the centre. Lay it on a roasting tray (helps prevent possible spillage necessitating an oven clean) and bake in the oven, preheated to 400F/200C, for around 40 minutes, until the pastry is beautifully risen and golden.

Venison game pie removed from the oven

When you take your pie from the oven, don't cut it for service immediately. Remember, meat should be rested after cooking, whether it be a roast or a pie like this. Set it aside for fifteen minutes.

Plating the meat of the venison game pie

Cut the pastry of the pie in half and remove to a temporary holding plate. Use a slotted spoon to divide the meat between two serving plates and top with the pastry. Serve with your homemade chips/fries and the frozen peas cooked as per the instructions on the packet.

Pastry is added to the venison game pie filling

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