This is one of our best sellers at the restaurant. It’s rich, homely, comforting and a great-tasting dish. If you can’t find venison mince, replace with grass-fed beef mince. I pipe my ridiculously buttery mash onto the pies at Cafe, but my mother used to spread the mash over the cooked mince and make a tartan pattern with the back of a fork, who remembers that?
400g of lean, very good venison mince
4 tablespoons cold-pressed rapeseed oil
150g of mixed diced vegetables, such as carrots, celeriac, turnip and onion
1 bay leaf
A sprig of thyme
1 litre of very good beef or game stock, chicken stock would do - any leftover gravy is good to add here
200ml double cream – heated
1 egg, beaten
Good salt and pepper
Heat the oven to 160°C.
Heat a large ovenproof pot (with a lid) on the hob - get it quite hot – then add half the oil. When smoking, add the venison mince. Keep the heat up and keep stirring until the mince is nicely browned, this should take 7 to 8 minutes. Drain through a sieve and reserve.
Bring the same pot back up to a high heat and add the remaining oil. Fry the veg for around 6 to 8 minutes. The more colour you add, the more flavour your pie will have. Then add the thyme, the bay leaf and the drained venison mince. Combine whilst still on a high heat and season with salt and pepper. Next add the stock and any leftover gravy and bring to the boil.
Once boiling, remove from the heat and cover with a lid. Then place the pot in the oven to simmer for 2 hours, stirring every half hour or so. Then remove the lid and cook for a further hour, stirring every 15 minutes. It should reach a rich, thick mince or stew consistency. Remove from the oven and transfer to a serving dish.
For the mash, boil the potatoes in salted water, drain and pass through a potato ricer. Stir in the hot cream and butter.
Top the pie with the mash. Use a piping bag to create a decorative design, or spread the mash with a palette knife and use a fork to create ridges.
Brush all over with a beaten egg and brown in a very hot oven or under a piping hot grill. Serve at once with some cabbage or greens cooked with a little beef fat left over from Sunday lunch.