It’s here! It’s here! Finally, it’s game season! What a treat this food season is. Getting your hands on good quality wild game meats is not the easiest thing in the world to do, but to persevere is to be rewarded with food fit for a King!
Over the past few years, venison has become much more accessible as a meat, but often times the provenance of the meat you find vacuum packed in supermarket freezer cabinets is not clear. It most definitely will not be wild, and the quality often lacking. Many people won’t even be sure how to cook it. Like any animal, different parts of the body require different treatment. Add to that the fact the venison is such a naturally lean meat so there is no fat for flavouring means that some thought and care is required in the treatment of each cut of meat long before it gets anywhere near an oven or pan!
One of the fail safe ways to cook venison is with a long marinade and a slow cook into a tasty pie. There are certain flavours that are just beautiful flavours with venison: wine, rosemary, juniper, garlic… In this recipe, I take care over the marinade and the filling and use a cheat ingredient for the pie topping – ready to use pre-rolled puff pastry sheet! If you have the patience of a saint to make your own pastry then do, but I’d much rather focus my time on getting the filling right!
Ingredients (serves 4 – 6):
- 500g wild venison diced
- 2 tbsp of rapeseed oil
- sprig of fresh rosemary
- 2 tsp of juniper berries, smashed
- 2 cloves of garlic, peeled and crushed
- 2 bay leaves
- 2 tsp smoked sea salt
- plenty of freshly cracked black pepper
- Dry red wine – enough to cover the meat
- 2 large carrots, peeled and diced
- 2 large parsnips, peeled and diced
- 1/2 celeriac bulb, peeled and diced
- 1 large leek, halved and finely sliced
- 1 Knorr gravy pot gel stock
- 1 sheet of ready rolled puff pastry
- 1 beaten egg
- The day before you plan on eating the pie, prepare the marinade for the meat and place covered in the fridge to work its magic! The longer you can leave it in the fridge the better – the meat will only benefit.
- Diced your venison and place in the bowl with the rapeseed oil, rosemary, juniper, garlic, bay leaves, salt, pepper and red wine.
- When you are ready to cook, take the meat out of the marinade, but keep the marinade by as this will be the base of your sauce for the pie.
- In an oven proof casserole dish, heat some rapeseed oil and, in batches, brown off the venison. Doing this in batches keeps the heat up in the dish.
- When browned, take out and place on kitchen paper.
- Turn the heat down a notch, and add a little more rapeseed oil to the pan. Slowly cook off the leeks until tender.
- Add in the finely diced carrot, parsnip and celeriac. Stir and cover with the casserole lid for 5 mins until just starting to softened, colour slightly, but not burned.
- Uncover the veggies and add in venison. Stir through and then add in the marinade from the venison and add in the jelly stock pot. If needs be, add a little water. Stir through, and cook slowly on a low heat for another 15 minutes covered and uncovered for another 10 minutes or until the sauce has thickened and reduced slightly.
- Meanwhile, dust your work surface with a little plain flour. Uncover your puff pastry sheet and roll out a little so it will cover your casserole dish.
- When your pie filling is ready, take the casserole dish off the heat. Using your rolling pin, roll up the pastry onto the pin and drap it over the pie filling. It should be bigger than your dish. Tear off a small piece from a corner that is going spare, roll it up into a little ball and use it press the pastry inside the casserole dish – as if you are tucking the pie filling into bed! Make a little hole in the centre of the pastry.
- Whisk up the egg and brush it all over the pastry.
- Put the pie in the oven at 200 degrees celsius and cook until the pastry has puffed up and gone golden brown.
Take the dish to the table and serve up with some steamed chard tossed in sea salt, black pepper and olive oil and creamy mashed potatoes. And….Enjoy!