There are pies and there are special pies but Venison Pie is so special. The lean meat belies the richness of the gravy in this pie. The recipe may look a little daunting but do not be put off, it is in fact straightforward. Just don’t rush this pie – the secret lies in cooking the meat until it’s so tender that it falls apart.
4 x 250g puff pastry sheets • beaten egg
250g smoked pork rashers, diced
1.5kg venison, cubed
1kg springbok ‘bones’ (ask your butcher for offcuts that are still a bit meaty – backbone, flank and flat rib work well)
4 shallots, coarsely chopped
4 medium carrots, sliced
2 celery stalks, sliced
1 knob fresh ginger, chopped
1 red chilli, chopped
1 bay leaf
3 sprigs thyme
2 star anise
5ml black peppercorns
5ml mustard seeds
5ml whole coriander
5 whole cloves
125ml tomato purée
750ml red wine
250ml beef stock
1. Place all the filling ingredients – except the flour – in a casserole dish with a tight-fitting lid then cover and bake in the oven at 120°C for 6 hours or until the meat is tender.
Tip Place all the spices in a muslin sachet so that they can be easily removed afterwards.
2. Flake the meat and remove all the bones. Strain the sauce through a sieve into a small saucepan and discard the spices and vegetables. Mix the flour with enough sauce to form a smooth paste, add to the sauce and cook until it thickens. Season to taste with salt and pepper and pour over the flaked meat.
3. Preheat the oven to 200°C. Roll half of the puff pastry out on a floured surface and roll it slightly thinner. Line two greased pie dishes with this. Divide the cooled filling between the pie crusts and brush the edges with egg. Cover the pies with the other half of the pastry and pinch the edges of both layers together with your fingers or a fork. Decorate the pie with any remaining dough and brush with the beaten egg. Make a steam hole or two in the center of each pie and bake for about 10 minutes. Reduce the heat to 180°C and bake for a further 20 minutes or until golden brown and cooked.