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Game pie recipe - perfect for frozen leftovers!

PUBLISHED: 16:16 07 March 2017

one for the pot

one for the pot

Archant

De-clutter your post-season freezer with this beautiful game pie recipe, topped with indulgent, golden puff pastry... a real comforter

one for the pot one for the pot

Serves 6

Ingredients

* 300g mixed game meat, boned and cubed

* 350g venison steak, cubed

one for the pot one for the pot

* 2 tbsp vegetable oil

* 2 onions, sliced

* 120g smoked streaky bacon, chopped

* 300g chestnut mushrooms, cleaned and sliced

* 1 clove garlic, finely chopped

* 30g plain flour

* salt and pepper

* 1 bay leaf

* ½ orange, zest and juice

* 1 tbsp crab apple jelly (or redcurrant jelly)

* 300ml chicken or game stock

* 300ml dark ale

* ready-made puff pastry

* beaten egg, for glazing

Method

1. Heat 1 tbsp of the oil in a large pan and brown the game and venison on all sides. (You may need to do this in batches.) Set aside.

2. Heat the rest of the oil and fry the onions for 5 minutes or until soft. Add the garlic, bacon and mushrooms and cook for another 2-3 minutes.

3. Stir in the flour and cook for 2 minutes, stirring occasionally. Season, then stir in the bay leaf, orange zest and juice, crab apple jelly, stock and ale. Bring to the boil.

4. Add the meat and reduce to a simmer. Simmer for 40-50 minutes or until the meat is tender. Cool.

5. Heat the oven to 200°C.

6. Put the cooled pie filling into a pie dish. Roll out the pastry to make a lid. Brush the edges of the pie dish with beaten egg. Lay the pastry over the top and press onto the dish to seal. Cut away any excess and make a hole in the centre to allow the steam to escape. Glaze with beaten egg.

7. Bake for 20 minutes and then reduce to 180°C for 30 minutes or until the pastry is golden and well risen.

BACKGROUND

A freezer packed full of game to see you through the ‘wilderness’ months is a very good thing, but not so good if, like me, you’ve got a freezer the size of a shoebox and a few birds from last season taking up space. As the season draws to an end, now is the time to empty your freezer, make something delicious with your discoveries and restock to keep you going through the summer.

A dedicated clear out wasn’t necessary in my case as I knew exactly what I needed to use up – having spent the last few months moving several items around the freezer in an attempt to find room for other things – I just needed to find the time to do it. A couple of venison steaks, a few partridge and some pheasant breasts had all started to look a bit forlorn after being promised stardom on these pages and then not quite making it. Instead, they have now been put to very good use in this game and ale pie. You really can use any combination of game meat in this recipe, so it’s a quick and easy way to use up several things at once.

I cooked my game meat (once defrosted) with real ale, onions, mushrooms and bacon, until meltingly soft, and then topped with a puff pastry crust. Real ale works particularly well with game meat, and dark ale will lend your pie filling a gloriously rich colour. We often talk about good provenance and sourcing ingredients locally when it comes to fresh fruit and vegetables, but it’s also something to keep in mind when buying other ingredients too, whether that means choosing the local produce stocked in the supermarket or going to a village shop. In this case, why not try to find a local brew to complement your locally harvested wild game? I chose a bottle of Good Old Boy from the West Berkshire Brewery – a full-flavoured bitter with a fruity aroma.

Once your pie mix is bubbling away, you can sit back and relax while the stove does the hard work. Then, all that’s left to do is to pop it into a pie dish, top with a pastry lid, glaze with egg and whack it in the oven. Job’s a good ‘un!

Admittedly, this is more of a ‘casserole with a lid’ than a pie, but when it comes out of the oven golden, crisp and bubbling at the edges, no one will be questioning your techniques – they’ll just want to get stuck in!

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