Best Game Pie
1 tbsp olive oil
500g mixed Game, diced (I used venison, rabbit, pheasant, partridge & wood pigeon)
sea salt & freshly ground black pepper
1 large onion, finely chopped
1 large garlic clove, finely chopped
1 large carrot, half finely diced, half sliced small
1 stick celery, finely diced
2 rashers back bacon, diced
10 small round shallots
150g small button mushrooms, left whole
3 bay leaves
1 tsp fresh rosemary
8 juniper berries, crushed well
200ml red wine
1 heaped tsp tomato puree
1 Knorr rich beef stock pot
10 semi dried prunes, halved
For the pastry :
150g plain flour
50g vegetable suet
50g cold salted butter
freshly ground black pepper
Carbonated mineral water as necessary.
1 egg yolk to glaze.
In a deep frying pan, heat the olive oil and add the butter. When the butter is frothy, add the game and sear over a high heat with a tiny pinch of sea salt and a good pinch of black pepper. Just get two or three sides of the meat coloured, then remove to an ovenproof casserole dish, using a slotted spoon.
Add the chopped onion, garlic, carrot (both sizes), celery and bacon to the pan. Season with a small pinch of sea salt and black pepper. Fry over a moderate heat until the onion is transparent and the bacon fat has begun to render.
Add the whole shallots and button mushrooms and increase the heat under the pan. Fry until everything has gained a little colour - around five minutes, or so.
Add the bay leaves, rosemary and crushed juniper berries and stir through.
Add the red wine and tomato puree, stir through and allow to boil rapidly for 2-3 minutes, then reduce the heat to moderate and add the beef stock and the water. Stir through again to ensure the stock has melted properly.
Simmer the pan contents for 10 minutes, then taste for seasoning and add more salt or pepper, as necessary.
Add the prunes and chestnuts.
Decant into the casserole dish and gently stir to mix the game through.
Cover the casserole dish and place into a pre-heated oven at 180degC/350degF/Gas 4 for 2 hours.
Once the cooking time is up, decant the casserole contents into your pie dish, cover lightly and set aside to cool.
Make the pastry by gathering all the ingredients except the water (and egg) into a large bowl. Using your fingertips, rub the butter into the flour and suet, until you have a cross between breadcrumbs and cornflakes. Add around 100ml of water and stir with a knife. You will probably need a little more water, but what you are looking for is that the pastry dough just clings together and is damp, not wet. Do not knead the dough at all, just pat and push it together then place onto a sheet of cling film and wrap tightly. Rest in the fridge for at least 30 minutes before using.
When your dough is rested and your filling lukewarm, roll out the pastry to just bigger than the size of your pie dish.
Using a pastry brush, brush egg yolk around the lip of the pie dish.
Carefully lift the pastry on top of the pie, so that it overhangs the edge. Using the tip of a knife, press down all around the edge then trim off the excess.
Brush all but a small amount of the remaining egg yolk over the surface of the pastry, taking care to go right to the edges.
Cut out some leaves or other decoration from your leftover pastry and lay them on top of the egg wash. Brush egg onto the leaves.
Take a sharp knife and cut some holes into the pastry to allow the steam to escape.
Place into a pre-heated oven at 180degC/350degF/Gas 4 for 35-40 minutes until the pastry is crisply golden and the filling is bubbling hot.
Serve with buttered new potatoes and vegetables of your choice.