Anyway, without further ado on the matter of awards, onto the game pie! As with many classic dishes, there are a multitude of recipes available and each chef or cook has their own twist to offer.
I recently had a dabble with the recipe below, since I was very kindly given some excellent Pheasant by a friend and picked up some rabbit and venison from a good quality butchers fairly local to me.
As with a lot of game pie recipes, there is a tendency to add bacon, but instead I opted to use something that I love and often have available in my refrigerator in Spanish Chorizo. The temptation is to usually fry this first to obtain all the lovely flavour from the paprika infused fats, but by finely chopping it and adding towards the end of the initial cooking stages, the meat doesn’t get the firm slightly chewy texture that is often prevalent.
I have to admit to cheating slightly on this occasion as I used ready-made pastry for this pie, as a puff pastry can be tricky and very time consuming to make from scratch. A shortcrust can work just as well, but I shall cover my recipe another time.
50g Chopped Spanish Chorizo, finely chopped
1 Large White Onion, finely chopped
2 Cloves of Garlic, finely chopped
2 Bay Leaves
Few sprigs of fresh Thyme
4 tblsp Olive oil and
1 medium egg (beaten) for glazing
Roux for thickening (cornflour and milk)
Pastry (shortcrust or puff – either is fine, can use frozen ready made pastry for ease)
1. Fry the onion (photo 2) until brown in the olive oil, then add the chopped garlic as the edges of the onion start to go brown in a large pan.
2. Add the game meat (rabbit, venison and pheasant - photo 1) and brown on a medium to low heat for 50 minutes in the pan with the bay leaves and thyme, after half an hour add the finely chopped Chorizo (photo 3). Occasionally add water or stock to the meat, keeping the pan to a low simmer, until all the stock has been added.
3. Use the roux to thicken the sauce up from the meat gravy. Add a few spoonfuls at a time, stirring through until the gravy is of a viscous consistency and will hold in the pie. Add the butter, stirring through and allowing to gently cool (photo 5).
4. Grease a large pie tin, place the sheet of pastry into the tin, allowing enough pastry at the edges for the base to dry and shrink into the tin. Blind bake (photo 6) until the pastry is golden at 200°C with ceramic beans in to prevent too much rise. Glaze the base of the pastry in the tin with the egg and allow to cool.
5. Add the game meat from the pan into the pastry base, removing the bay leaves. Place the second sheet of pastry over the top, again, allowing some shrink and cut some holes in the top to allow the steam to escape (photo 7). Glaze the edges of the base pastry and then use a fork to press the cover layer and base layer of pastry together. Glaze completely with the egg and place in the oven.
6. Bake the pie at 200-220°C for 25 minutes, turn to ensure even baking and then bake for a further 20-30 minutes at 170-180°C until golden (photo 8).
7. Allow cooling for 10-15 minutes and then serve slices of pie with vegetables or a salad. Preference is for roast potatoes and garden peas or a sweet potato/creamy celeriac mash.