This veritable feast takes a bit of effort, but is well worth it. It originated around the mid-1800s when serving guests a game pie would have been a good indication that the host owned vast tracts of property. Only the rich ate game - the law permitting others to hunt on their land had not yet been passed. You'll need to begin this recipe a day ahead.
- 1 shoulder of venison, boned and evenly diced
- 2 each of saddles of rabbit and hare, diced (see note)
- 1 carrot, chopped
- 1 small onion, chopped
- 1 celery stalk, chopped
- 2 garlic cloves
- 2 sprigs thyme
- 1 fresh bay leaf
- 10 black peppercorns, crushed
- 350 ml red wine
- 350 ml ruby Port
- 100 ml olive oil
- 1 litre veal stock
- 200 gm smoked bacon, cut into lardons
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 20 gm butter
- 300 gm assorted wild mushrooms
- 4 egg yolks, beaten together
- 50 gm clarified butter
- 250 gm unsalted butter, coarsely chopped
- 400 gm plain flour
- 1 egg yolk
- 1Place venison, rabbit, hare, vegetables, herbs and peppercorns in a container that will fit in the fridge. Pour in red wine and Port, cover with a lid or plastic wrap and allow meat to marinate in refrigerator overnight.
- 2Preheat oven to 160C. Drain off marinade and set liquid aside (discard vegetables). Seal meat in a hot pan with olive oil. When brown, transfer meat to a casserole or similar dish.
- 3Meanwhile, pass marinade liquid through a fine cloth into a clean pan. Slowly bring to the boil, skimming off any scum. Reduce the marinade by two thirds. Add veal stock. Pour the meat sauce into the pan with the meat. Cover with a tight-fitting lid and cook slowly in the oven for 1½ hours until meat is soft and tender. Remove from oven and set aside.
- 4Meanwhile, to make pastry, dissolve 8gm fine salt in 50ml cold water. Gently rub butter into flour to form a breadcrumb-like mixture, then add egg yolk and salted water. Mix to form a dough. Cover in plastic wrap and chill for at least 1 hour in the refrigerator before using. Roll dough out to 6mm thick and refrigerate until required. Meanwhile, fry bacon lardons in oil until golden in colour, add butter and wild mushrooms and season to taste. Cook mushrooms for about a minute, then drain in a colander and set aside.
- 5Increase oven to 185C. Divide meat among six 15cm-diameter earthenware or China pie dishes. Spoon mushroom mixture evenly over each and pour meat sauce over to almost cover. Cut rounds from pastry to fit tops of pie dishes with a 5mm overhang. Brush edges of each dish with egg yolk and top with a pastry round. Brush egg over pastry and cut a small hole in the centre of each to allow steam to escape. Bake until pastry is golden and crisp (12-15 minutes). Brush pies with clarified butter when they come out of the oven and serve.
Note In Australia, only whole rabbits and hares are available. Order in advance from select butchers. Substitute saddles with 920gm of boned rabbit/hare meat. This recipe is from Marco Pierre White's Great British Feast (Orion, $55, hbk). In editing this recipe for publication we have made minor changes to bring it into Gourmet Traveller style.