4 January 2013

Slow Braised Venison Pie

It has been nearly a month since my last blog for which I am profoundly sorry. In my defense, I have been snowed under with homework and revision for my four -eek! -January exams that are hurtling towards me. Cooking and baking unsurprisingly, has been at a minimum, and what I have made, I've had little time to blog about it.
I am allowing myself a brief half hour break to blog about last night's dinner, which I am way too proud of to not talk about it. It's also my birthday tomorrow so there should be a restaurant review and cake recipe coming up! In the meantime, keep up with me and CoffeeWithCroissants on Twitter and Instagram.

I found this recipe when curled up on the sofa with my Mother watching Kirstie's Vintage Christmas. What with moving house, Mum has got quite into crafts and things, so for the five or six weeks that Kirstie's Vintage was showing on the telly, we've been there and watching. When I saw the slow braised venison pies featured, I knew I just had to try them. We've been buying a lot of game and venison recently, after finding ourselves an excellent new butcher's. So I ear-marked a pack of diced venison and got cooking. I've adjusted the amounts to make it more suitable for our smaller family, and to make use of the ingredients in our fridge. You can find the original recipe here.

Even if you're new to venison, do try this because it is a perfect and rather festive winter warmer.

Slow Braised Venison Pie
  • 1 medium onion, roughly chopped
  • 2-3 stalks celery, peeled and chopped.
  • 2 carrots, peeled and chopped
  • 1/2 large sweet potato, peeled and chopped
  •  Olive oil, for frying
  • 400g  venison or beef, cut into bite-sized pieces
  •  Plain flour, around 3-4tbsp
  • 3 tbsp cranberry sauce
  • 2 large sundried tomatoes, finely chopped, or 1tbsp tomato puree
  • 175ml port
  • 250ml good beef stock
  • 3 thyme sprigs
  • 1 bayleaf
  • 1 egg, beaten with a little milk for the eggwash
For the pastry (if making)
  • 200g plain flour
  • 110g cold salted butter, cubed
  • Ice-cold water,around 3-4tbs
 Preheat the oven to gas mark 2, 160'C.
Heat a little oil in a frying pan over a medium-high temperature. Add in the vegetables and cook for 5-10 minutes until the onion is soft and turning golden. Tip the vegetables into a large casserole pan.

Add a little more oil, and brown the meat. If your pan is a little on the small side, cook in two or three batches, as crowding the pan with too much meat won't let it get hot enough, and all the moisture from the venison or beef will drain into the pan. When the meat is brown, add this to the vegetables. For a vegetarian option, swap the meat for chopped mushrooms with pine nuts or chestnuts and extra celery.
 Cook the  cranberry sauce and tomato over a low heat for one minute. I used our homemade sauce, which I will link the recipe for here. If using store bought, add the zest of an orange to create an extra tang to your dish.

Turn the heat up and add the port to deglaze the pan -use your spoon or spatula to get all the flavour left from browning the meat off the base off the pan. Give that a minute to heat through and tip into the casserole dish, along with the beef stock. Give it all a stir and add in the thyme and bayleaf.
Pop the lid on and cook for an hour and a half. You could eat it just like that, but to turn it into a fabulous pie, get your rolling pin out.

If you don't have time, there is no crime whatsoever in using bought pastry. However, if you're up for a challenge, have a go at making your own. Below is a recipe for a shortcrust. Next time I make puff pastry, I'll take some photos and do a recipe post because it tastes great with this recipe.

Rub the flour and cold butter together, using your fingertips to make breadcrumbs.Make a well and gradually add in the water. Bring together using a fork or spatula if you want to keep your hands clean -phones and doorbells ALWAYS ring whenever you let both of your hands get covered in cooking material!! Once the crumbly mixture can be pressed into a smooth ball, cover in clingfilm and chill in the fridge for 20-30 minutes.

Roll out the dough. I think these pies look much nicer as individual portions, but make sure that whatever you pie ends up in, to cut the pastry so that is large enough to drape slightly over the sides of your container as it will shrink as it bakes. If using a large pie dish, pop a pie funnel or upturned egg cup to stop the pastry from sinking.

 Take the casserole out of the oven and turn the heat up to gas mark 7, 200'C. Give the oven a few minutes to heat up, then gently spoon the casserole into the pie dish/es. Avoid pouring in too much of the excess liquid; a little brings flavour but too much will create soggy pastry! Glaze the top of the pastry with the egg wash, and pierce it to let steam out. Decorate with any left over pastry if you feel like it.
 Bake for around 20 minutes until the pastry is cook and golden. Serve immediately with a salad or non-root vegetables.

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