#241 Venison (or Game) Pie or Pasty

It’s pretty much the end of the game season now and so to see it off for another year, I thought a delicious venison pie was in order. I love venison, but for some reason have never cooked with it so I thought a pie would be the place to start. It’s a nice easy pie to make and the filling can be made well ahead of time. The really good thing about it was specific instruction of producing some ornate pastry work for the top. I don’t know why the name of the recipe is a pie or pasty, because there’s no instruction for making this into a pasty.

Start off by turning some pieces of shoulder venison or game in flour that has been seasoned with salt, pepper and mace. You’ll need three pounds of venison for other game for this. Brown the venison in two ounces of butter in a cast-iron casserole. Now add 4 ounces of chopped onion, ¼ pint of red wine plus enough beef or game stock to cover the meat. Bring to a simmer and cook gently until done, says Griggers. This might not be useful for those – like me – that have never cooked venison; I placed it in an oven heated to 150⁰C for two hours. In the case of game on the bone, it is cooked when you can take the meat easily from the bone. Melt two more ounces of butter in a saucepan and add a tablespoon of flour and cook to form a roux, strain some of the sauce into the pan and simmer for five minutes before mixing it back into the pie filling mixture. Check for seasoning. Pour the mixture into a pie dish and cover with puff pastry. Make a hole in the centre surrounded with a pastry rose plus some other nice ornate patterns, as is traditional, using egg to glue any bits on. Lastly brush to whole thing with more egg to make a nice glaze. Delicious hot or cold, says Jane.


#241 Venison Pie. This was a great pie! The meat was deliciously tender and gamey and the gravy dark and rich; a pie to warm your cockles. However, it was not delicious cold as the gravy was all congealed and it was a bit like dog food. Doing the pastry was great fun too (if you are a massive geek, like me) 7.5/10.

#44 English Game Pie, #45 Cumberland Sauce


I invited Clive from work to help me finish off the last of the game I got from Bury Market last night in the form of (#44) English Game Pie. Looking through the ‘Stuffing, Sauces and Preserves’ chapter of English Food for something to go with game, I found (#44) Cumberland sauce. I’ve never had it before, and had no idea what it was. Everything was straight-forward, though the pie had lots of preparation. Anyways, here’s what I did…

The day before I simmered a brace of pheasants and a pigeon (essentially everything I had!) in a very light chicken stock along with a good seasoning and a bouquet garnei of parsley, bay leaves and thyme springs. Jane recommends between 2 and 4 birds. It took an hour and a half for the meat to become tender enough for me to pull the meat from the bone with relative ease. I cut the meat into chunks and kept them in a sealed tub topped up with the stock so it didn’t dry out over night and reserved the remaining stock.

Next day I arranged the meat in one large dish, and a smaller, as I made an extra one for my PhD supervisor too. Then hard-boiled and quartered three eggs and tucked them between the pieces of meat along with small rolls of grilled bacon (though not in yours Jason, don’t worry!), and chopped parsley. Next, I fried a large onion and about 8 ounces of mushrooms in 2 ounces of butter until they were golden. A tablespoon of flour was mixed in to the mushrooms and onions and stirred around so that the butter got absorbed, and then stock was added a ladelful at a time until a thick sauce had developed – about the thickness of double cream. Make sure the sauce is seasoned very well. It was simmered for about 5 minutes, and I added extra stock whenever the sauce thickened too much. The sauce was poured over the meat and then a puff pastry covered the pies. The large pie was cooked at 200 degrees for 20 minutes and then the oven was turned down to 170 for a final ten.

The Cumberland sauce was very easy. Make sure you make it in advance as it should be served cold. Whisk together a jar of redcurrant jelly and a teaspoon of Dijon mustard in a pan over a low heat. Meanwhile blanch the thinly pared peel of a lemon and an orange that have been cut into matchsticks for 5 minutes, then drain. Once the jelly has melted, add the peel, the juice of the two fruits, 5 tablespoons of port, plenty of black pepper and salt and ground ginger to taste (I used a scant teaspoon). Pour into sauce boat. Easy peasy.

FYI: Cumberland sauce is, in fact, German – the recipe was brought over with the House of Hanover in the late Eighteenth Century, and is named after George IV who was the Duke of Cumberland.

#43 English Game Pie – 10/10. This is my first full point dish I think! It was absoluely delicious. Although I’d never had it, there was something very familiar and comforting about it. It was also, for me, the epitome of English Food. The meat was beautifully tender, and he sauce had turned into a delicious gravy and the salty bacon added an extra dimension. The full flavour of the pheasant and pigeon coped very well with the rich Cumberland sauce…

#44 Cumberland Sauce – 8/10. A perfect complement to the game. Although it was very rich and sweet, the savory additions such as the pepper and mustard allowed you to add loads. All in all a fantastic meal!