Thursday, 27 January 2011

Game Pie

Robert De Niro in 'The Deer Hunter'
     This blog hasn't been running very long but it is game heavy.  Tis the season.  Round about this time of year I find my freezer is starting to sag under the weight of game bird carcasses, game bird breast loins, venison off cuts and random bits of offal.  I possess a violent reaction to waste, thus every little musk scented scrap of flesh and bone ends up in my ice box waiting for the inevitable entry to a pie.
     Pies are comforting, thrifty and downright important.  The ritual usually begins with a growl from my wife about an acute lack of freezer space.  This is followed by a growl at me dumping it all out in a heap on the draining board to defrost.  The next morning is spent carving off all the little chunks clinging to the carcasses- roasted and raw alike.  All bones are placed in a large pot with the usual suspects and a glorious stock emerges four hours later.  All the remaining meat is then braised very slowly in a quantity of the strained stock.  On the third day we make pie...
Game, Chestnut & Mushroom Pie
Game, Chestnut & Mushroom Pie

Ingredients for 6-8:
5-6 Medium sized dried mushrooms, reconstituted in a little boiling water
75gm Unsalted butter
1 Leek, chopped
1 Clove garlic, minced
180gm Chestnut mushrooms, sliced
50gm Flour
200ml Milk
2tbsp Double cream
350ml Game stock
1/2tsp Chopped fresh thyme
450gm Braised game meat, roughly chopped
200gm Chestnuts, store bought vacuum packed is fine.
Good handful chopped parsley
300gm Puff pastry
1/2 Egg, whisked

1) Warm the cream, milk and stock in a medium saucepan.
2) Melt the butter in a large saucepan and gently cook the leek, garlic and sliced mushrooms.
3) Season well and add the flour to make a sort of roux.  Cook out for a couple minutes.
4) Add the stock, stirring all the while, a ladle or two at a time, and bring to a simmer.
5) Add the thyme, dried mushrooms and liquor, and simmer for 20-30 minutes, stirring often.
6) Fold through the chestnuts, game meat and parsley.  Check the seasoning and remove from the heat.
7) Pre-heat the oven to 180 degrees Celsius.
8) Using a large casserole dish, fill level to within a half centimetre of the top.
9) Roll out the puff pastry no thicker than a pound coin and drape over the dish, ensuring you have a good even overhang of about 2cm.
10) Crimp the edges artfully and brush well with the egg.  Slash a few vents in the top and pop in the bottom half of the oven for 40 odd minutes or until the pastry is well browned and fully cooked.

To serve:
     This homey delight is perfect winter fare and comforting as old socks.  Serve up with braised red cabbage, watercress, redcurrant jelly and/or cranberry sauce.  We started with an aperitif of home made sloe gin and soda followed by a 2003 bottle of Chateau Musar.  I've got just enough game stock left for a nice lentil soup...

English hunter
Canadian hunter

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