This has been the longest January ever, has it not? It took me a good two weeks to drag myself out of my sleepy post-festive state. No-one told me that hosting a twelve-person Christmas would be quite so exhausting, although I loved every minute of it and am secretly considering offering to repeat the feat next year.
Anyway, it has been as quiet in my kitchen this month as December was manic. Having resolved to make 2012 my year of eating Lots More Veg, I’ve been pootling steadily through the fantastic River Cottage Veg book, a much-welcomed Christmas gift. I now have a mild addiction to kale, and growing confidence in my ability as a veggie cook (one bland biryani incident aside).
What with all this veg consumption, there’s been much less meat eaten at Runcible Spoon HQ this month – no bad thing, considering the size of our festive turkey, ham and spiced beef! It’s also meant that we can spend our money on the good stuff, like this wild Wicklow venison from Hick & Sons, which I picked up at their H2G stall, and baked in a pastry-topped pie.
The filling for the pie takes a while to put together, but it’s entirely worth it, and could be prepped in advance if you’re stuck for time. It’s also delicious without the pastry topping and with a heap of mashed potato. And maybe some kale, if you’re as hooked on it as I am.
Venison pie (inspired by BBC Good Food)
What you need for four servings of pie:
2tbsp olive oil
a knob of butter
8 shallots, finely sliced
2 garlic cloves, crushed
1 leek, peeled and chopped
500g Ed Hick’s venison goulash mix (or venison pieces)
2 white turnips, peeled and diced into 1cm cubes
3 carrots, peeled and sliced
450ml rough red wine
450ml rich beef stock (I used a Stock Pot)
leaves from one sprig of thyme
1 sheet frozen pre-rolled puff pastry
1 egg, lightly beaten
What to do:
Pre-heat the oven to 180C / 160C fan.
Heat the butter and olive oil on a medium heat in a heavy-bottomed casserole pan. Add the shallots, garlic and leek and fry for 5-7 minutes until soft and starting to colour. Lift the veg out with a slotted spoon, leaving as much of the oil and juices in the pan as you can.
Tip in the venison pieces, taking care not to crowd the pan, and fry until browned on all sides. Add the shallot, garlic and leek mixture back to the pan along with the turnips and carrots, and give everything a good stir.
Pour in the red wine and stock, scrape up any stuck bits from the bottom of the pan, and add a little salt and pepper and the thyme leaves. Bring the lot to the boil, then cover and transfer to the oven for one and a half hours. Check the pot after an hour and add a little extra water if the liquid levels have dropped.
Once the filling has cooked, allow it to cool for a few minutes and check the seasoning before transferring to the pie dish (or dishes) of your choosing.
In the meantime, crank the oven temperature back up to 200C / 180C fan.
Cut the puff pastry sheet to the necessary size and cover each pie. Glaze with the beaten egg and pop in the oven for another 25 minutes, until the pastry is risen and golden. Serve immediately, with some green winter veg on the side.