To those reading this, I hope you had and continue to have, a very pleasant Christmas! I most certainly did having spent most of Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, cooking, drinking and eating in roughly that order. The mixture of Ale, Red Wine and Single Malt Whisky is not a combination I would recommend in fairness, but then it is the ‘most wonderful time of the year’ and was hoping for a Boxing Day hangover reprieve. Unfortunately…..no.
I got the turkey from Northumberland Poultry this year and it was as delicious as it was massive (10Kg/22lb). It was however, for all intents and purposes, just a roast and therefore I thought I’d post something I’d made a couple of days earlier.
I had this Game Pie at a pub recently where it was part of a Christmas Menu, and loved it so I thought I’d try it out having never made one before for some strange reason. The wine is important here so use one you’re happy to drink. I used a Shiraz wine which is suited to game meat – some to cook with and some to enjoy with the results! The meat a pre-prepared diced mix from a supermarket, which wasn’t ideal, but never the less turned out nicely. It was a mixture of pheasant, mallard, partridge and, I think, pigeon. I added a couple of chicken thighs too as I needed to make it go a bit further.
I used a shop bought roll of puff pastry for the top though – I’m not a masochist ;). I do confess this may upset one of my friends who will insist this is not a pie, but a ‘stew with a hat’, but I hate to say I prefer this way sometimes as I’m not always in the mood to too much pastry. Also, and admittedly it’s a hollow gesture this time of year, it’s also slightly healthier of course!
We ate this on its own although a sweet potato mash would have been very good on the side we thought.
Serves 2-4 depending on how hungry you are, and takes 4 hours to 24 hours, depending on how long you have.
- About 500g of diced mixed game meat (I had 350g and made up the rest with chicken)
- a handful of lardons or sliced bacon (about 4 slices)
- 2 tbsp oil
- a knob of butter (it was Christmas)
- 1 medium carrot, sliced
- 1 large celery stick, thinly sliced
- 1 clove of garlic, finely sliced
- 1 onion finely sliced
- About 10 juniper berries
- 300ml Shiraz wine (or any decent strong and ‘fruity’ red)
- 200ml chicken stock
- 1 boquet garni of thyme and rosemary
- 2 tsp cornflour mixed with a little water
- I ‘squirt’/tbsp of tomato puree
- Salt and black pepper
- 1 340g sheet of pre rolled puff pastry, or the same amount rolled 1/2 cm or 1/5 inch thick if in a block
- 1 egg, beaten
Start by frying off the meat/bacon in the oil in a hot pan until well browned. Add the butter once nearly done (so as not to burn it) and reduce the heat a bit. Stir in the onions and garlic and soften for a few minutes at the lower heat with a good pinch of salt. Finally add the rest of the vegetables/berries followed by the wine, stock and tomato puree.
Add a generous twist of black pepper, but the bouquet garni on top, and gently simmer with the lid on for about 2 hours. The cooking liquid should be reduced, but stir in the the cornflour mixture at the end to thicken (if necessary). Taste and season if necessary.
Pour the mixture into a pie dish bearing in mind that the mixture needs to leave small gap at the top to accommodate the pastry. Allow to cool/rest preferably covered and left ovenight as it will be tastier the next day like any stew. I couldn’t wait that long though!
Once ready, preheat the oven to 190°c/370°f/Gas 5. Cover the dish with the puff pastry and use a knife to trim off the excess neatly. Use a fork to seal the pastry against the sides and a sharp knife to score (but not cut through) it in a criss-cross fashion.
Paint the beaten egg on the top of the pastry with a pastry brush and place it in the oven for around 30-40 minutes until risen and browned all over.