Venison port pie

Venison port pie

By
From
A Year of Practiculture
Serves
4
Photographer
Rohan Anderson & Kate Berry

Having a freezer full of wild venison keeps us well fed over winter. The very concept of harvesting while the weather is good in order to prepare for when the season of rain and freeze arrives is a winning formula. An approach to survival that’s served humans well for thousands of years seems like a good idea to me, especially given my disdain for the impact of the commercial food system in Western countries. None of this food politics is on my mind when I’m hunting deer, though. It’s just me and the animal I’m hunting. I’m in that mode, hunting mode. If you’ve hunted, you’ll know what I’m talking about. It’s almost like a switch gets flicked – you focus and nothing else matters but the task at hand. I used to think too much when I first started hunting. I’d think about the ethics of what I was doing. Now I just focus on getting a clean kill and picking the right animal. It’s one thing to pull the trigger and kill, it’s another to hold back and let the right animal go. Deer is one of those animals this applies to. If a doe has a fawn in tow, for example, you let her go. That can mean days in the bush with no meat for the freezer. As frustrating as it might be the time, it’s just the right thing to do. Patience and sensibility are skills a good hunter requires.

A good hunter also requires a glass of port, and to relax in front of a warming fire after a hard day’s work. And to make that moment even more enjoyable, how about a serve of venison pie with a hint of port? Life’s pretty good, you know.

Ingredients

Quantity Ingredient
1-2 tablespoons olive oil
4 onions, chopped
4 garlic cloves, sliced
1kg venison leg cut
250ml muscat
725g tomato passata
10 whole cloves
5 whole allspice berries, crushed
4 fresh bay leaves
handful parsley, including stems, chopped
salt, to taste
freshly cracked black pepper, to taste
1 egg, lightly beaten
poppy seeds, for sprinkling
a few sage leaves, to garnish

Shortcrust pastry

Quantity Ingredient
200g chilled butter, diced
400g plain flour, sifted, plus extra for dusting
2 small eggs, lightly beaten

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 220°C.
  2. In a large cast-iron casserole dish (or camp stove) over medium heat on the stove top, heat the olive oil (a generous glug) and brown the onion and garlic for 5–10 minutes.
  3. Push the onion to one side and brown the venison for 1 minute on all sides. Splash over the muscat and add the passata, cloves, allspice, bay leaves and parsley, and season well with salt and pepper.
  4. Add enough water to half-cover the meat, then pop the lid on and transfer to the oven. Turn the temperature down to 130°C and cook for 3 hours, then turn the meat over and cook for a further 3 hours, or until the meat is falling from the bone.
  5. Meanwhile, to make the shortcrust pastry, whizz the butter and flour in a food processor until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs. With the processor still running, slowly pour in the eggs and let the processor do all the work for you. The mixture should bind together to form a lump of dough. If it doesn’t quite pull together, add small amounts of chilled water until it does. Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 1 hour.
  6. Turn the oven up to 200°C and grease four 250 ml ramekins.
  7. Remove the casserole dish from the oven and allow to cool a little. Carefully take out the venison, then remove the meat from the bone, discarding the bone. Shred the meat and return it to the sauce in the casserole dish.
  8. Reduce the sauce over medium heat on the stove top. Adjust the seasoning if required, then allow to cool.
  9. Spoon the meat and gravy into the prepared ramekins. Roll out the shortcrust pastry and use it to cover each pie. Brush with the beaten egg and sprinkle with poppy seeds.
  10. Bake for 30 minutes, or until the pastry is golden brown. Garnish with sage leaves.
  11. Serve with a glass of port and a few good hunting tales.
Tags:
rohan
anderson
practiculture
whole
larder
love
sustainable
sustainability
grow
harvest
forage
hunt
seasonal
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