Venison, onion and red wine pie
- February 2020
- Serves 5-6
- Hands-on time 45 min, simmering time 30 min, oven time 3 hours 15-50 min, plus chilling
A winter pie with real body; Gill Meller cooks the onions slowly until they collapse into a thick jam before adding the venison. Make sure the meat gets plenty of cooking time – it should be lovely and tender before you make the pie.
- 37.8g (19.6g saturated)
- 55.4g (5.5g sugars)
- 2 tbsp beef dripping or olive oil
- 150g British free-range unsmoked bacon lardons
- 600-700g British venison shoulder, cut into large cubes, seasoned generously
- Knob of butter
- 2 large red onions, thinly sliced
- 2 large onions, thinly sliced
- 4 garlic cloves, crushed
- 4 bay leaves
- 4 fresh thyme sprigs
- 1 star anise
- Grated zest ¼ small orange
- 2 tbsp plain flour
- 250ml full-bodied red wine
- 500-600ml beef or chicken stock
For the rough puff pastry
- 175g unsalted butter, chilled and cut into small cubes
- 350g plain flour, plus extra to dust
- Iced water
- 1 medium free-range egg, beaten
You’ll also need…
- 26cm round shallow casserole or pie dish, lightly greased (about 1.2 litres)
- For the pastry, put the butter, flour and a pinch of salt in a large mixing bowl. With your fingertips, rub the butter into the flour until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs, then add just enough iced water to bring it together into a fairly firm dough. Form the dough into a rectangular shape, then roll out on a well floured surface to form a rectangle about 1cm thick. Fold the two short ends into the middle so they overlap like an envelope. Give the pastry a quarter-turn, then repeat the rolling/folding process five more times. Wrap the pastry, then rest it in the fridge for 30 minutes to an hour (see Make Ahead).
- Put a large heavy-based casserole (one with a lid) over a high heat. Add half the dripping or oil and, when hot, add the bacon lardons. Fry for 4-5 minutes, stirring regularly, until golden, then use a slotted spoon to lift out onto a plate. Keep the pan on the heat, then add the cubed venison in a single layer (you might need to do this in batches) and brown until caramelised on all sides. Avoid shaking the pan and let the meat sizzle for several minutes before turning. Once it’s browned, lift it out and set it aside with the bacon.
- Reduce the heat and add the remaining dripping/oil and the butter, followed by the onions, garlic, bay leaves, thyme, star anise and orange zest. Season, then cook, stirring regularly, for 10-12 minutes or until the onions begin to soften. Turn down the heat, cover and cook, stirring occasionally, for a further 30 minutes.
- Heat the oven to 170°C/150°C fan/gas 3½. When the onions are extraordinarily soft and beginning to caramelise, return the venison, bacon and any resting juices to the casserole. Scatter over the flour and stir well. Cook for 2-3 minutes, then pour in the wine, stir well and bring to a simmer. Add enough stock to just cover the meat. Set the lid on slightly ajar, transfer to the oven and cook for 2½ hours. After that time, remove the casserole from the oven, lift out a piece of meat and check it’s tender and the sauce is rich (if it’s not, return to the oven for a further 30 minutes and check again). When the meat is tender, stir the pie filling gently, then taste, adjust the seasoning and leave it cool (see Make Ahead).
- Turn up the oven to 200°C/180°C fan/gas 6. Cut the pastry into two pieces, about two thirds and one third. Roll out the larger piece to about 30cm wide and use to line the greased pie dish (don’t worry if you have some overhang – this gets trimmed off). Spoon in the pie filling, removing the bay leaves and herb stalks if you can find them.
- Roll out the smaller piece of pastry to make the lid. Brush the edges of the pastry base with beaten egg, lay the lid on top, then crimp the edges together and trim off the excess pastry. Brush the top of the pie with more beaten egg, then cut a steam vent in the centre. Bake for 45-50 minutes until golden brown. Leave the pie to settle for around 15 minutes before serving.
Make the pastry and filling up to 2 days ahead, then cover and chill separately. Assemble the pie to bake and serve.
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