A pie packed with venison and mushrooms (and no real hedgehogs)
Don’t worry; I haven’t put real hedgehogs in this venison pie. Hedgehogs (also known as pied-de-mouton) are delicious wild mushrooms that are in season right now.
For the rough puff pastry:
175g unsalted butter, chilled and cut into small cubes
350g plain flour
A good pinch of salt
1 egg, beaten (for the egg wash)
2 tbsp dripping (or olive oil)
600-700g venison shoulder, in large cubes
1 knob of butter
200g hedgehog mushroom
1 large or 2 smaller onions, peeled and sliced
4 cloves of garlic
4 bay leaves
2 sprigs of rosemary
4 sprigs of thyme
2 tbsp flour
500ml light ale (nothing too bitter)
To make the pastry, combine the butter with the flour and salt, then add just enough water to bring it together into a fairly firm dough. Form into a rectangular shape with your hands and, on a well-floured surface, roll out in one direction to make a rectangle about 1cm thick. Fold the two short ends into the middle so they overlap. Give the pastry a quarter turn and repeat the rolling-and-folding process five more times. Wrap the pastry in cling film, then rest it in the fridge for 30 mins to an hour.
Season the meat with plenty of salt and pepper. Set a large casserole pan over a high heat. Add half the dripping and when hot add the cubed venison (you might need to do this in batches). Avoid shaking the pan too much—you want the meat to caramelise on the outside, so let it sizzle for several minutes before turning. When lovely and golden, lift the meat from the pan to a plate.
Turn the heat down and add the remaining dripping, followed by the onions, mushrooms, garlic, bay, rosemary and thyme, and season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring regularly for 10-12 mins, until the onions are soft and the mushrooms have given up their juices—don’t let anything burn. Return the meat to the pan, turn the heat down, scatter over the flour and stir it in well. Cook for 2-3 minus, then pour over the ale, stir well and bring to a simmer. Top up with water to just cover the meat. Cook with the lid ajar in a 175C oven for 2-2½ hours.
Remove the casserole from the oven. The meat should be nice and tender and the sauce should be rich, but might need seasoning. Stir the pie filling gently then let it cool.
Turn the oven up to 190C. Cut the pastry in two, about two-thirds and one-third. Roll out the larger piece and line a lightly greased pie dish (about 1.2 litres). Don’t worry if you have some over-hang, this gets trimmed off. Roll out the smaller piece of pastry to form a lid. Spoon in the venison and all the lovely juices, but you might want to whip the bay leaves and herb stalks out now, if you can find them.
Brush the edges of the pastry base with beaten egg, lay on the lid and crimp together the edges, then trim away the excess pastry. Brush with more egg and cut a little vent in the centre of the pie. Bake for 45-50 mins, until golden brown. Leave to settle for around 15 mins before serving.
Recipe: Gill Meller
Image: Kim Lightbody