Most of us love pies. They come in all shapes and sizes. I put my love of pies down to homemade pastry. Proper pastry with butter, or in a pork pie, a hot water paste. And using lard, or fresh beef fat or suet, can take a pie to a new level. Including animal fat in pastry (and cheap cuts in the pie) makes sense to me, ensuring the whole animal is used.
That first sight of the cooked pie approaching the table can have an emotional effect on people. It’s that warming, homely experience that we all love. And of course, a pie must be served with a buttery mash, always buttery!
400g diced venison shoulder, or you can use beef or lamb
A little beef fat, or oil
1 carrot, peeled and diced
1 large onion, peeled and diced
1/4 turnip, peeled and diced
2 sticks celery, peeled and diced
500ml leftover gravy or very thick reduced game or beef stock
Good salt and pepper
Pre-made rough-puff pastry – to cover your dish
1 egg beaten in a cup with a little salt
A few sprigs of thyme and a bay leaf
Fry the venison dice in the beef fat or oil in a thick-bottomed pot a hot hob. Be sure to get some good colour on the meat before adding the vegetables. Get a good colour on the veg before adding the thyme and bay leaf.
Season the pot with salt and pepper then add the leftover gravy or reduced stock and bring to the boil. Reduce to a simmer and place a lid on top. Place in a low oven (150°C) for 2 to 2 ½ hours, stirring occasionally, until the meat and vegetables are soft and tender.
Pour the stew into a pie dish (I like Falcon Enamelware) and chill for an hour by an open window so it’s cold when you add the pastry lid.
Roll out your rough-puff pastry on a floured surface, to the same size as the dish top, and lay on the pie. Trim the edges and score a design on top, then brush the egg wash all over.
Cook in the oven at 200°C for 1 hour or until the pastry is cooked and the meat inside is piping hot. Glaze again on exit from the oven with more egg wash, and take to the table with lashings of buttery mash.