I get really bored of people complaining about the winter weather. If you’re like me, the changing seasons bring endless joys that my tummy cannot handle at other times of the year. It’s basically one long excuse to eat pies. For six months. Game season has allowed me to love UK winters, along with the snow (it’s beautiful and doesn’t last that long – stop complaining), and the need to eat more saturated fat, yum. I love winter.
Game season is almost over, but we have a month or two left for duck and venison. So here is a game pie recipe to make you wish you were here.
500 grams of diced mixed game. Try venison, partridge, pheasant, pigeon, rabbit…
Salt, pepper and flour to season and dust
2 large onions, red or white
600 grams of chestnut mushrooms
200 grams of dried apricots
100 mls of marsala wine
150 mls red wine, or 250 mls red if you don’t have marsala
Stock, or water
Oil for frying
Herbs such as bay leaves, thyme, rosemary
Start by seasoning your game and coating in flour:
Heat a heavy based casserole with the oil, and when smoking hot tip in the game and stir until it browns on all sides, sealing in the flavour and juices. Remove and put aside in a bowl.
Now fry the sliced onions for a few minutes until soft, giving them a liberal sprinkling of sea salt or pink salt, then add halved or quartered mushrooms until lightly browned, and finally at least two, preferably more, whole crushed cloves of garlic.
Add the game back to the casserole, along with the herbs, halved or quartered apricots, a good dash of worcester sauce, and pour in the marsala and red wine, scraping the bottom of the dish to incorporate all the flavours. You will now need to add water or stock, to cover about three quarters of the mixture. Using a heavy, well sealing lid, bring to the boil then simmer on a low heat for half and hour. Remove from the heat and leave to cool. At this point the pie can be left overnight for the flavours to develop, or until just cool enough to add the puff pastry top.
Roll out a sheet of puff pastry and lay it over the top of the pie dish or casserole. Press the pastry down onto the edges of the dish, then beat your egg and brush all over. Make a slit in the middle to allow steam to escape, and bake on 200 C for 45-55 minutes or until the pastry is golden brown.
The marsala wine and apricots give the pie a sweetness that works beautifully with the meat, which should be tender and full of gamey flavour. The chunky mushrooms are a delicious contrast to the chunks of meaty game. I sometimes brown a handful on their own and sit them near the top of the mixture, just to make sure there are at least a few that are intact, as mushrooms can shrink and become lost in mixtures. Of course bacon or lardons would be perfect in this pie, but as I am not a pork eater, I look to add flavour in other ways. Feel free to add any treats of your own to the recipe…