VENISON AND MUSHROOM PIE WITH PORT
My mother’s game pie was famous – her secret? Adding a spoonful of chopped pickled walnuts to give the sauce depth and color. A similar amount of black oil olives, chopped, will give a the right color.
450 g/1 lb boneless venison
450 g/1 lb chuck steak
175 ml/¾ cup Port wine
4 shallots, finely chopped
1 tablespoon pickled walnuts, finely chopped
22g/3 tablespoons flour
Salt and pepper
750 ml/3 cups beef or veal stock, more if needed
450 g/1 lb portabella or large flat mushrooms, peeled and cut into wedges
450 g/1 lb readymade puff pastry dough
1 egg, beaten and mixed with ½ teaspoon salt, for glaze
Large casserole; Large pie dish
1. To make the filling: Cut the venison and steak in 4 cm/1½ in cubes trimming any sinew. Put them in a heavy plastic bag and add the Port. Seal the bag and leave the meat to marinate in a bowl in the refrigerator for 1-2 days.
2. Heat the oven to 350°F/180°C. In a large bowl, mix together the shallots, pickled walnuts and flour with a teaspoon each of salt and pepper. Toss the meat with the flour, so it is coated thoroughly and transfer this mixture to a large casserole, stir in the stock, then add the remaining marinated liquid to the casserole with the mushrooms. Bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring occasionally until the sauce thickens lightly. Cover and cook the casserole in the oven until the meat is almost tender when pierced with a fork, 1½-2 hours. Add more stock during cooking if needed as the meat should always be covered with sauce.
3. Remove the lid and simmer the casserole on top of the stove until the sauce is quite thick, stirring often 15-20 minutes. Taste, adjust the seasoning and spoon the mixture into the pie dish. Leave it to cool thoroughly.
4. To assemble the pie: Roll the pastry dough to an oval 2.5 cm/1-in larger than the pie dish. Trim the edges and cut a strip the width of the dish rim from the edge of the dough. Brush the rim of the dish with water and lay the pastry strip on top and brush with the egg glaze.
5. Wrap the dough oval around the rolling pin and lift it on the pie dish. Press the oval firmly to seal it to the strip. Trim excess dough with scissors and brush the top of the pie with the egg glaze, making two small slits in the center to allow steam to escape. Roll out any trimmings and use them to cut flowers or leaves to decorate the pie. Brush the decorations with egg glaze and chill the pie for at least 15 minutes before baking.
6. Heat the oven to 425°F/220°C. Bake the pie until the pastry is puffed, crisp and golden, 25-35 minutes. To be sure the filling is very hot, test with a metal skewer.