Venison and Red Wine Pie

It’s not every day that a man turns up at my kitchen door with a deer on his shoulder, but when it does happen it’s very exciting. The dog certainly found it fascinating and kept looking through the kitchen window hoping that it was a late Christmas present. Unfortunately I had to disappoint the mutt as I had plans for this beast.

With most animals, different cuts of meat should be treated in their own way, some benefiting from long slow cooking, others a quick fry, and all the stages in-between.

One for the ladies!I wanted to use the whole animal in one dish in this case, but I kept the loin to one side for something a bit special, which I’ll show you soon.

So I butchered and diced all the meat, then roasted the carcass and made a venison stock to give the pie a great flavour.  At home it might not be practical to butcher your own deer and make a stock, but diced venison is readily available, and a good quality fresh beef stock would make a good substitute for venison stock.

Venison and Red Wine Pie

Serves 6

Ingredients

For the pie filling:

  • 1kg diced venison
  • 1ltr stock
  • 500ml red wine
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 100g button onions
  • 100g streaky bacon, diced
  • 40ml vegetable oil
  • 1tsp thyme, chopped
  • 30g butter
  • 30g plain flour
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1 egg, beaten

For the pastry:

  • 250g unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 500g plain flour
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 50ml milk
  • 5g salt

  1. In a hot pan brown all the venison using the vegetable oil. Do this in batches so the pan is not over-crowded, and to ensure the meat gets well coloured. When each batch is done place in a bowl for later.
  2. Now in the same pan sweat the onion for 4 minutes. Add the meat back to the pan with the thyme and some seasoning. Now add the red wine and stir, scraping all the bits from the base of the pan. Pour in the stock and bring up to the simmer. Reduce the heat and cook for 1 and a half hours.
  3. After this time fry the bacon in a frying pan, then using a slotted spoon, lift into the venison pan. Fry the mushrooms off in the bacon fat then add to the stew.
  4. Cook the stew for another 30 minutes then beat the butter and flour together. Take small pieces of the butter mix and drop into the stew. Stir this in and keep adding more until the stew reaches a nice thickness. Check the seasoning and transfer the stew to a shallow container with a large surface area so it will cool quicker.
  5. While the filling is cooling make the pastry. Rub the butter and flour together until they resemble fine breadcrumbs.  Mix in the salt, then the eggs.  Add only enough of the milk to bring all of the mixture together into a ball.
  6. It’s best to rest the pastry for at least 1 hour in the fridge before rolling.
  7. Pre-heat the oven to 200′c.
  8. When rested, roll out the pastry and line 6 tart tins. Spoon the venison into the pastry cases and brush the edge of the pastry with the beaten egg. Roll out 6 disks to top the pies and drape over. Crimp the pastry down, joining the lid to the base, and trim off any excess pastry. Make a small hole in the top of each pie for steam to escape.
  9. Brush the tops of the pies with egg and bake for 30 minutes until golden and bubbling.
  10. Remove from the tins and serve with mashed potatoes, as the dog looks on in hatred.

Tomato and Basil Sauce

This is an essential sauce for any cooks repertoire, and one that you will use time and time again, as a base for countless different recipes.  I use this versatile sauce for pasta dishes, pizza toppings, and you can even use it as a soup.

Tomato and Basil Sauce

Ingredients

  • 2 x 400g tins chopped plum tomatoes
  • 2tbsp tomato puree
  • 2 shallots
  • 4 cloves of garlic
  • 1tbsp fresh basil
  • 1tbsp olive oil
  • Salt and black pepper

Method

  1. Peel and dice the shallots, then sweat in a pan with the olive oil.
  2. Chop the garlic, then add to the shallots once softened, and cook for two minutes.
  3. Add the tomatoes and the puree, bring up to a simmer, then reduce the heat and cook for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  4. Shred the basil and add to the pan, along with some salt and pepper.
  5. You can either blend the sauce or leave it chunky, depending on how you wish to use it.

Classic Pesto

There are many different types of pesto about these days, but I think the classic is still the best.  The original recipe only uses five ingredients, and cannot be beaten.  You can either make this the authentic way using a pestle and mortar, or for an easy life, I like to use a food processor.

This simple recepie is so quick and easy to whip up, you’ll never buy another jar of pesto again!

Pesto

Ingredients

  • 2 bunches of basil
  • 3 cloves of garlic
  • ¼ pint of extra virgin olive oil
  • 50g pine nuts
  • 50g parmesan, freshly grated

Method

  1. Put the basil and garlic into the food processor, and whizz to a paste.
  2. Add the cheese and nuts, then the oil.
  3. Whizz to your desired consistency – have it as chunky or smooth as you like.

Delicious stirred into fresh pasta, spread on bruschetta, or with the tomato and goats cheese tart.