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Venison Pastie

Introduction & method

Venison pasties have a long and venerable history, having been mentioned by Shakespeare in The Merry Wives of Windsor and Samuel Pepys in his diaries. Because availability of deer was restricted to the 'upper classes', venison was not something ordinary folk could (legally) get hold of. These days venison is sometimes available at supermarkets as well as butchers who deal in game. My version of venison pastie precooks the meat in a tasty red wine sauce.

Venison Pastie Recipe

Make Hot Water Pastry

Mix the salt with the flour in a large bowl. Cut the fat into small chunks - it will melt more quickly. Put the water and the fat in a small saucepan and heat them until the fat is all melted. Stir half of this mixture into the flour, then add the rest and mix well. Wrap the dough in plastic film and leave it to cool completely.

Precook the Meat

Venison is a very lean meat, but it might have some silverskin attached. Remove this and cut the venison into small dice, about 1 centimetre (half an inch). In a bowl, mix a couple of tablespoons of flour with a generous pinch of salt and pepper. Toss the venison in it to get it coated all over. Melt a tablespoon of lard in a large frying pan and add the bacon lardons. Let them cook for 5-10 minutes until the fat is rendered. If you have cheap lardons it's possible they will release a lot of water - you need to get this boiled off before carrying on. Shake the floury meat to get rid of excess flour and add it to the pan with the bacon. Cook for a few minutes until browned all over then scoop out the bacon and venison and add the diced onion. Let that cook until browned a bit - 5 minutes? - then remove it.
While the meat is cooking, prep the onion - it needs to be peeled and cut into small dice. When the meat is browned and out of the pan, add the onion and cook for about 5 minutes until softened and a bit brown - add more lard if necessary. Remove from the pan, turn the heat up a bit and deglaze the pan by pouring the wine in and scraping cooking residue from the pan.
Now you have three options for finishing cooking the meat. You can do it in a saucepan for 2-3 hours. Or in a slow cooker/crockpot for 6-8 hours or overnight. Or the quick way, use a pressure cooker - this will only take 20 minutes. Whichever you choose, add the meat and onion, all the liquid from the pan, the stock and the herbs and cook it for the specified time. Set aside to cool down.

Prep the Veggies

Top and tail the carrot and parsnip. Give them a rinse and then cut them into dice, about 1 centimetre (one inch). Season them with salt and pepper. If they're going to be sitting around for a while, squirt them with lemon juice to stop them going brown.

Make the Pasties

Sprinkle flour on your worktop. Divide the dough into 4 equal parts. I decided to make my pasties as triangles, so for that you need the dough rolled out into squares. You could, of course, make your pasties the traditional 'D' shape, in which case you need to roll the dough into discs a bit larger than a side plate and smaller than a dinner plate. Now, imagine a diagonal line between two opposing corners of the square. Spread parsnip and carrot dice within one of the triangles, but leave a 2 centimetre (short inch) margin on the two short sides. Spoon on some meaty filling to cover all of the veggies. Moisten the edges of the pastry with water. Fold the pastry over, press it down to seal all round, then make a decorative crimp. Make small holes in the top of each pastie using a fork. Mix 1 egg and a splash of milk together and paint the top and sides of the pastry. 
Line a baking sheet with greaseproof paper and put the pasties on it. Place the tray in the oven and bake for 45 minutes, turning it round halfway through. Remove the pasties to a wire rack once they cooked.

The video above is from the Keef Cooks YouTube channel. Click here to see the video recipe of Venison Pastie on YouTube.


Ingredients & Info

 350 grams plain (all-purpose) flour
 150 ml water
 175 grams lard
 1 tsp salt
 250 grams venison
 200 grams bacon lardons
 1 medium onion
 1 carrot
 1 parsnip
 250 ml beef or chicken stock
 250 ml red wine
 2 bay leaves
 12 juniper berries
 half a tsp dried sage
 half a tsp dried thyme
  salt and pepper to taste

1 egg and a splash of milk for glazing. Maybe some flour for thickening and salt & pepper for seasoning.

US Customary/Imperial

Makes 4 pasties
Prep time: 30 minutes.
Pastry resting time: 30 minutes.
Cooking time: 1 hour 30 minutes.
Total time: 2 hours 30 minutes.