This is a comforting late Autumn dish that makes the best of the seasons ingredients. Venison pie is easy to prepare but it does take time with overnight marinating and slow long cooking.
Prep: 30 minutes plus at least 4 hours marinating
Cook: 2-3 hours
800g stewing venison, cubed
500ml red wine
1 onion, finely sliced
1 garlic clove crushed
1 carrot, peeled and sliced
1 celery stick, sliced
1 rosemary sprig
1 bay leaves
6 juniper berries
6 tbsp corn flour
3 tbsp butter
200g button mushrooms, large mushrooms halved or quartered (dependent on size)
12 small shallots, halved or quartered (dependent on size)
2 tbsp fresh thyme, finely chopped
500g puff pastry
Marinade: Mix all the marinade ingredients together in a bowl. Place the venison in the marinade and cover the bowl cling film and place it in the refrigerate overnight or for at least 4 hours to marinate.
Stew: Strain the venison from the marinade and reserve the wine. Toss the venison in the cornflour so that it is well coated. Melt the butter in a large casserole pan over a moderate high heat. Add the meat to the pan and cook it for 2-3 minutes, browning it on all sides. Add the mushrooms, shallots and thyme to the pan and cook for a further 2 minutes, stirring regularly with a wooden spoon. Reduce the heat slightly and stir in the reserved red wine and stock or water. Bring the liquid to a strong simmer, spoon off any scum that comes to the top. Reduce the heat to the lowest setting and leave the stew to cook gently for 2-3 hours, stirring it at regular intervals so the ingredients cook evenly and the base doesn't burn (the longer and slower the cooking the more tender the meat will be). The venison stew should have thickened but should still cover the meat and vegetables. Remove the stew from the heat.
Pie: Preheat the oven to 200°C. Roll the pastry out to a 20cm disk or to the size of the pie dish used and around 1 cm thick. Place the venison stew into a 20cm diametre pie dish. Place the pastry over the top of the pie dish, trim, seal and crimp around the edges. Make 2 small wholes in the centre of the pie. Cut out a deer or leaf shape with any pastry scraps and place the shape over the wholes. Brush the pie with the egg and place it on the centre shelf of the preheated oven. Cook the pie for 15-20 minutes until the pastry has risen and is golden brown. Remove it from the oven and allow it to cool for a few minutes before serving.
To Serve: Serve slices of the pie with a light salad or boiled new potatoes.