With a crisp chill in the air, and the days becoming shorter, it is the perfect time of year for this deliciously rich Venison and Cranberry pie from A Love For Food.
We particularly like this recipe for the tartness of the cranberries, which lift the flavour and help cut through the richness of the venison. We also relish any opportunity to celebrate venison from our organic herd reared on our sister estate in Staffordshire. We have the largest organic red deer herd in the country, which is free to roam the parkland with time to mature naturally.
You can quickly and easily cut out six tops from two sheets of good, ready-rolled puff pastry. However, if you prefer to make one big pie approximately 25cm round, or 20cm x 30cm if you have an oblong-shaped dish) it is easier to buy a block of pastry and roll it out yourself on a floured surface to the size needed. A large pie will need a pie prop placed in the middle of the venison mixture before you drape your pastry over the top (make a hole in the centre for it to poke through) and about 45 minutes in the oven.
The pies can be made up to a few hours in advance of cooking – just keep them in the fridge until you’re ready to bake. If you do this, however, bring them up to room temperature before cooking.
venison haunch or shoulder, cut into bite-size pieces – 1kg
375ml red wine
2 medium carrots, chopped
2 medium onions, sliced
1 bay leaf
2 juniper berries
1 sprig of fresh thyme
butter – 50g
olive oil – 2 tbsps
sugar – 25g
plain flour – 40g
tomato puree – 1 tbsp
organic chicken stock – 500ml
sun-dried cranberries – 100g
sea salt and freshly ground pepper
ready made puff pastry – 2 sheets
1 egg, beaten
Put the venison into a bowl with the red wine, carrots, onions, bay leaf, juniper berries and thyme and leave to marinate in the fridge for 24 hours.
When ready to make the pies, preheat the oven to 200C/gas 6.
Remove the venison from the marinade and pat dry with kitchen paper. Strain the liquid into a bowl and keep to one side. Discard the juniper berries and thyme sprig, but keep back the carrots and onions.
Heat the butter and oil in a casserole. Put in the venison and sauté until golden brown all over, then lift out and reduce the heat. Add the reserved sliced onions and carrots from the marinade, together with the sugar, and soften the vegetables gently, adding in a little more butter if needed.
Add the flour and tomato purée and cook for 1-2 minutes more, then add the marinade liquid a little at a time, stirring continually to prevent lumps from forming.
Return the browned meat to the pan, together with the stock, bring to the boil, then turn down the heat and simmer for about 2 hours, covered, until the venison is cooked and tender, and the sauce has thickened.
Stir in the cranberries, taste and season as necessary, then divide between six individual pie dishes.
Cut out 3 lids from each sheet of pastry – they should be big enough to overhang the dishes by at least 1cm. Drape over the top and brush with the beaten egg.
Put the dishes on a baking tray in the preheated oven for 30 minutes, or until the pastry is risen and golden brown.
For more information behind the inspiration of A Love For Food click here.