If you’re looking for a stunning venison pie recipe, you’re definitely in the right place! This recipe is rich and creamy with some surprising spices that firmly take it to the next level.
If you hunt, or in my case have good friends that hunt, it’s always a good idea to have a few extra special recipes up your sleeve to turn the bountiful glut of meat into delicious meals your family crave all year long.
And I’m pretty sure that once you try it, you’ll be bookmarking this recipe for future seasons too!
Is Venison an Ethical Meat Choice?
This question often comes up on social media, especially if I show a photo of an animal destined for the table.
As a farmers daughter, that’s reared and butchered many, many animals for the table, I feel very strongly about the compassion given towards the life of an animal I eat. I won’t buy cheap pork or chicken as I won’t support the inhumane conditions these animals are forced to live in for our benefit.
If we choose to eat meat, buying meat from animals that have lived a wild and free life makes the most ethical, environmental and sustainable choice.
We have massive numbers of both native and non native breeds of deer across the UK. In areas where their numbers are high they cause huge amounts of damage to trees, peat bogs and other important habitats, thereby putting many other animal and plant species in danger. This article from the guardian puts forward a compelling argument for deer culls.
The wild sika deer in the photo above (and the deer in the front of the picture provided the meat for this recipe) are a non-native species that regularly decimate grain and green crops across the UK. Whilst sika aren’t officially classed as an invasive species, they are certainly considered a pest. They damage both young and old woodland by ring barking the trees and interbreed with our native red deer thereby diluting the reds gene pool.
Good hunters show huge compassion and reverence towards the life of the animal they’re hunting. So yes, I believe that wild British venison is an extremely ethical choice.
How to make an extraordinarily good venison pie
Years ago I used to breed Muscovy ducks for the table. The meat is dark and lean, and one of our favourite recipes to use the meat in was a pie recipe inspired by Delia Smith called Tortiere au Canard. Every Christmas I would make batches of individual pies and gift them to friends and family. People LOVED them!
The exact recipe was from a book I no longer own, and I can’t find the recipe online to directly credit her. So if you happen to have any of Delia’s books and find this recipe, please let me know which one it’s in so I can properly credit her.
When my good friend Duncan from Creech Hill Venison in Dorset got in touch with news of his latest shoot, I jumped at the chance of creating some new recipes for you all using fresh, wild venison.
And I thought back to those duck pies and wondered if the flavours would work with venison.
Spoiler alert, they do!
This venison pie is made in two stages.
The filling is cooked first in a slow cooker until the venison is soft and tender.
Then the filling is encased in a pastry shell and baked.
You can do these two stages on the same day and have your pie ready for your evening meal.
Or you can make the pie filling ahead of time and store it in the fridge (or freezer!) and use it to bake your pie whenever you’re ready.
Stage one: making the filling
1/ prep the venison
First, dice your venison into bite sized pieces.
I had a pack of the Diced Venison from Creech Hill so this part was already done for me.
2/ melt the butter
Promise me you won’t faint at the amount of butter used in this dish!
It’s a lot, but it’s wholly responsible for the velvety, creamy sauce so please don’t scrimp.
3/ add the meat and onions
Tip the venison and chopped onions into the pan and brown them.
With this much butter you won’t be searing the meat, you’re almost poaching it instead.
4/ add the flour and seasonings
When the meat no longer looks pink, sprinkle in the flour.
Give the meat a quick stir to coat it in the flour.
Then add the cinnamon and nutmeg, along with the salt and pepper.
You’ll likely be questioning mine (and Delia’s) sanity when you tip in the cinnamon and nutmeg.
These flavours are usually reserved for sweet dishes, but I promise that they work really, really well in this pie filling too.
5/ add the stock
Sauté this for another minute or two until the flour has absorbed the moisture in the pan.
Meanwhile make up a stock either by using a stock cube in hot water, or heat some homemade stock if you have some on hand.
I used a vegetable stock cube as that’s what I had in the pantry. But you could use chicken, beef or even a ham stock cube instead.
Slowly pour in the stock, little by little, stirring as you go.
6/ add to the slow cooker
At this point you can pour the whole lot into your slow cooker.
Cook on high for 4-5 hours, or low for 6-8 hours
If you’d rather you can gently simmer the pan on the stove top for 1½ hours or until the meat is soft and tender.
Stage two: making the pie
Years ago my Mum taught me that the tastiest pies had shortcrust pastry on the bottom, and puff pastry on the top.
This gives you the most amazing balance of textures, and really adds to the overall pie experience!
I’m horrible at making pastry so I generally buy it ready made. However if you’d rather make it from scratch feel free to use shortcrust on the top and bottom of your pie.
1/ line your pie dish with pastry
Roll out the shortcrust pasty and line a pie dish with an inch or so overhanging the sides.
My pie dish measured 25cm x 20 cm (10” x 8”) and about 5cm (2”) deep. Although I could have got away with a slightly smaller tin for the amount of filling the recipe makes.
2/ load up your pie filling
Use a ladle to fill your pie shell with the venison pie filling.
I made my filling the day before so it had set firm in the fridge overnight. If you do the same, I recommend reheating the filling on the stove first.
This will make the gravy much looser and it’ll spread out freely in the dish. It’ll also ensure the centre of the pie is piping hot as it’s only in the oven for a total of 20 minutes.
3/ egg wash the rim
Beat an egg in a small bowl then use a pastry brush to swipe the egg wash around the pastry rim.
This’ll help the puff pastry lid stick to the shortcrust pastry base.
4/ add your pie lid
Lay your sheet of puff pastry out over the pie dish with a small overhang over each edge.
Press down with your thumbs in the four corners to seal, then work around the pan pressing the entire pastry sheets together.
Use a small knife to carefully trim the excess pastry all the way round.
Then use the remaining egg wash to coat the entire top of the pie.
Bake in the preheated oven for a total of 20 minutes or until the top is golden brown and the centre is piping hot.
Creech Hill Venison
Huge thanks to Duncan and all at Creech Hill Venison for gifting me the ingredients to share this gorgeous pie recipe with you.
If you’d like to find out more about them, or you’d like to order some wild Dorset venison, here’s their website: Creech Hill Venison.
The meat is delivered fresh (not frozen) in eco friendly packaging anywhere in mainland UK.
If you’re not sure what cut you need for a particular recipe, or you’d like to order a specific joint that’s not listed on their website, do drop them a line. They’re a lovely bunch that are happy to help you get the most out of your purchase.
- 200 g butter
- 1 kg venison - diced
- 2 onions - diced
- 2 tbsp plain flour
- 560 ml stock - vegetable, chicken, beef or ham stock would al work well
- ½ tsp cinnamon
- ½ tsp nutmeg
- ½ tsp salt
- ½ tsp black pepper
- 320 g shortcrust pastry
- 1 egg - beaten
- 320 g puff pastry
Melt the butter in a large saute or sauce pan.
Add in the venison meat and onion and cook until no pink is left showing on the meat.
Tip the flour into the pan and stir to coat the meat evenly.
When the flour has dried up all the moisture in the pan, pour in a little of the hot stock.
Stir well and when it starts to look smooth and creamy, add in a little more stock. Continue until all of the stock is used up.
Season with the cinnamon, nutmeg, salt and pepper.
Stir well then pour into the slow cooker.
Switch on to high and cook for 4-5 hours, or low and cook for 7-8 hours.
Preheat the oven to 200C/gas 6 (400F).
Roll out the shortcrust pastry and use it to line a pie dish. Aim to have the pastry overhang the pie dish by about 2cm (1”).
The pie dish I used measured 25cm x 20cm (10” x 8”), and 5cm (2”) deep. I could have comfortably used a slightly smaller dish for the amount of filling this recipe makes so don’t worry if yours is a little smaller.
When the deer meat is soft and tender, ladle it into the pie shell.
Level it out into an even layer.
Beat an egg in a small bowl, then use a pastry brush to swipe the egg wash around the rim of the shortcrust pastry shell.
Roll out the puff pastry and carefully lift it on top of the pie.
Use your thumbs to press the pastry lid down onto the pastry base to seal. Then slowly work around the pie pressing as you go to seal the lid shut.
Use a small paring knife to carefully trim the pastry all the way around, and to create a small vent hole in the centre of the pie lid.
Brush the lid of the pie with the egg wash, and place the pie into the preheated oven for 10 minutes.
After 0 minutes, reduce the heat to 180C/Gas4 (350F) and cook for a final 10 minutes.
Remove from the oven, cut into 6 portions and serve.
Leftover slices of pie can be cooled to room temperature, covered in foil and placed in the fridge for up to 3 days.
To reheat, bake for 40 minutes at 170C/gas 3 (340F). Leftovers are also delicious served cold.
Once it has been chilled in the fridge each slice can be wrapped tightly in foil and stored in the freezer. It will defrost and reheat perfectly.