“Add game to your repertoire and you will open up a whole new world of delicious recipes”
I copied this recipe from a Sunday Times magazine years ago. The recipe was by one time golden boy Gordon Ramsay. He’s seems to have had a bit of a rough time of it lately but I reckon he’s still got it. I’ve made these pies a few times and they never fail. As he says in the opening spiel above, mastering game really does open up the flavour stakes. As he also says water crust pastry is easy to make and work with and mastering these pies will ensure you never have a supermarket pork pie ever again!
250g mixture of game, such as loin of venison, partridge, pheasant or guinea fowl breasts (I got a tray of mixed game from my local butcher Red Bank Farm)
60g smoked bacon, chopped
200g sausage meat
2 eggs, beaten
1-2 tsp each freshly chopped parsley and sage
Grated zest of half a lemon
5 juniper berries, finely ground
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
for the water crust pastry
250g plain flour, plus extra for dusting
½ tsp fine sea salt
50g unsalted butter
Begin by making the pastry. Sift the flour and salt into a mixing bowl and make a well in the middle. Crack the egg into the middle and sprinkle over some of the flour to cover. Put the butter, lard and water in a small pan over a gentle heat. Once the butter and lard have melted, increase the heat and bring to the boil.
Pour the boiling water and fat around the edge of the bowl and quickly stir in using a palette knife. Knead the dough lightly until smooth, then wrap in clingfilm. Rest in the fridge for at least 30 minutes.
Meanwhile, prepare the filling. Trim the game meat of any fat or sinew, then cut into 1cm cubes. Mix with the bacon, sausage meat, one of the beaten eggs, herbs, lemon zest and crushed juniper berries, and season with salt and pepper. Divide into 4 portions and roll into balls.
Reserve one third of the pastry for making the pie lids, wrapped in clingfilm in the fridge. Roll the remaining pastry out on a lightly floured work surface to a 2-3mm thickness. Cut out 4 circles, 14cm in diameter, using a saucer as a template., (I use a cereal bowl) Place a ball of stuffing in the middle of each pastry disc. Press the stuffing gently to flatten at the base slightly.
Roll the reserved pastry to the same thickness as before and cut out 4 lids, 7cm in diameter (I use a cup) Place a lid over the top of the stuffing. Wet the rim of the larger pastry disc, then mould it up and around the filling to meet the lid. Curl the edge of the lid up to meet the top inside edge of the pie case and press together to seal. Repeat with the others, then chill for about 30 minutes until the pastry feels firm.
Preheat the oven to 190C/Gas 5. Make a neat steam hole in the centre of each pie lid with a skewer. Bake for 15 minutes. Remove the pies from the oven and reduce the temperature to 170C/Gas 3. Brush the pies evenly with the remaining beaten egg, then bake for a further 20-30 minutes until the pastry is cooked and the centre of the pie is piping hot. Allow the pies to cool on a wire rack. Serve warm or at room temperature with piccalilli.