How to make game pie

Learn how to make this impressive game pie, made with guinea fowl and wild mushrooms, by following our step-by-step guide.

How to make game pie

You will need

  •  2 x 375g blocks all-butter puff pastry
  • 100g plain flour, plus extra for dusting
  • 150g unsalted butter plus extra, softened, for greasing
  • 11/2 litres fresh chicken stock
  • 1 carrot, roughly chopped
  • 1 large onion, quartered
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • 2 guinea fowl, jointed; ask for skinless breasts and whole skinless legs on the bone
  • 150g mixed wild mushrooms
  • 2 tsp vegetable oil
  •  330ml dry cider
  • 1 tsp English mustard
  • 1 tsp wholegrain mustard
  •  10g fresh tarragon leaves, roughly chopped
  • 1 medium free-range egg yolk mixed with
  • 1 tbsp water to make an egg wash

You’ll also need…

  • 24cm springform cake tin, greased with butter, and pastry cutters to stamp out decorations (optional)

This recipe serves 8-10. Hands-on time 1 hour 10 min, oven time 35 min.

Make-ahead

Make the filling (steps 4-8) up to 24 hours ahead, cover and chill – or, if the meat hasn’t been previously frozen, freeze for up to 3 months. Bake the pie up to 24 hours ahead, cool, cover and store in a cool place. Reheat in a 200°C/180°C fan/gas 6 oven until heated through. Or freeze the uncooked pie. Bake from frozen for an extra 15-20 minutes.

Calum’s tips for success

  • When they’re in season, swap guinea fowl for two pheasants, prepared in the same way as the recipe. Or use partridge and/or grouse; they have a stronger flavour, so combine with something milder such as a pheasant (one pheasant with two partridge/grouse).
  • If you have space, using your freezer to rest the pastry (step 3) greatly shortens the chilling time.
  • Glazing with egg wash (egg yolk mixed with water) three times in steps 10 and 11 gives a golden, even finish. Let the wash dry between each coating.
  • Sometimes less is more when it comes to pastry decoration, so stick to a theme rather than using lots of patterns. Here I’ve cut out pastry leaves using a knife and arranged them inside a plaited circle.

1. Weigh out 500g of the puff pastry, lay the two pieces side-by-side and push together to form a single block. Roll out to a 40cm square on a lightly dusted surface. Transfer to a baking tray, then rest in the fridge for 10 minutes. Roll the remaining pastry into a 24cm diameter disc, trimming to size if needed, for the lid. Rest in the fridge on a tray until needed.

2. Once the pastry has chilled, trim the corners (keep these in the fridge for decorations) to give a roughly 34cm circle (use your tin as a guide).

3. Line the greased tin with the pastry so it goes right into the edges but without stretching it. Trim the pastry to leave a 2cm overhang all around. Chill the lined tin in the freezer. If you don’t have room, put in the fridge and leave until well chilled (1-2 hours).

4. Meanwhile put the chicken stock, carrot, onion, garlic and 1 tsp sea salt in a medium saucepan and bring to the boil. Add the guinea fowl legs, turn the heat to low and simmer for 45 minutes. Remove the legs from the stock and transfer to a plate to cool.

5. Cut the breast meat into 4-5cm chunks and add to the hot stock. Take off the heat and leave to poach, lid off, for 5 minutes. Remove the breast meat and put in a medium bowl to cool. Strain the stock into a clean pan through a fine sieve, then reduce on a medium heat, skimming off any fat from the surface, until the stock has reduced to about 200ml.

6. Meanwhile, fry the mushrooms in a medium frying pan with 2 tsp vegetable oil and 10g of the butter for 4-5 minutes to brown, then add to the cooked breast meat. Strip the leg meat from the bone, keeping the meat in large pieces, then add it to the mushrooms and breast meat.

7. Melt the remaining 140g butter in a medium saucepan over a low heat, then add the 100g flour and whisk together to make a roux. Cook for 10 minutes, whisking every minute or so. Add half the cider and bring to a simmer, whisking until smooth, then whisk in the rest of the cider. The mixture will be thick. Add half the reduced stock and repeat as with the cider. If the sauce looks thin, turn up the heat slightly and cook, whisking, until it’s thick enough to coat the back of the spoon.

8. Add the mustards and tarragon and taste to see if it needs salt/pepper. Stir the sauce into the mushroom/meat mix, then leave to cool. Chill for at least 1 hour until firmed up.

9. Heat the oven to 220°C/200°C fan/gas 7. Remove the cake tin from the freezer and spoon the chilled pie mix into the pastry case, smoothing the top to level it.

10. Put the pastry lid on top. Brush with the egg wash then, when the overhanging pastry has softened, trim it to the edge of the tin and fold it over, crimping it over the lid to seal (it should cover the lid by 2cm or so). Brush all over with the egg wash again.

11. Cut out and add any design you like using the pastry off-cuts, then use the egg wash to stick them to the pie.

12. Brush all over with the egg wash a third time. Chill for 10 minutes in the fridge, then bake for 35 minutes, rotating the tin halfway, until the pastry is deep golden all over and the filling is piping hot. Serve warm with seasonal veg and potatoes.

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