A very long time ago when I was a little girl (well about 12), I went to a family party and I tried my first ever piece of game pie. At the time I didn’t even really understand what game was and I thought it was strange to call a pie that. It tasted like a posh pork pie and I really liked it.
I kept asking people what was in it and they just said game, I had no idea what they meant by that so I stopped asking and enjoyed the pie.
As generally happens, I got older and game pie lost some of its mysticism when I learnt it’s just a raised pie filled with various meats in layers so that you can see the layer of each meat in the pie as you slice it.
Game pie can be decorated in a whole manner of ways, cranberry topped, lattice or shaped using intricate tins that give patterns to the hot water crust. I decided to go to town with the decoration on this as I really am not very experimental or intricate with my pastry.
Hot water crust pastry is one of my favourite types of pastry to eat and work with. It’s very easy to mould and shape like plasticine and it can be very forgiving. All that you have to be careful with is that there aren’t any gaps or cracks in the pastry before baking as the jelly will leak out when it’s poured into the finished pie.
I used to hate the jelly as a kid and I picked it out, but my favourite part of the pastry was the steamed part that cooked next to the filling. Now I absolutely love the jelly and it helps to preserve the pie filling and stop it drying out. These pies have a really long shelf-life, which is just as well because this makes an absolutely huge pie.
I was very kindly given some Joseph Joseph knives to prepare this pie with, they are fantastic knives. The Elevate Knife Carousel is magnetic so the knives will not get damaged when you put them back and it rotates so if you have a compact kitchen like me, then this is a great space saver. There’s also a great bamboo Chop2Pot chopping board that folds in half so you can scoop your chopped items and place them in your bowl or pan.
Also if like me you’re useless with one of those knife sharpening steel things their Rota knife sharpener is great too and like so much of the Joseph Joseph range it is a great space saver.
There is still time to get presents from them for Christmas, you have until midday on 20th December to get things delivered in time for Christmas.
If you want to make your own game pie for a boxing day lunch or a New Year’s party, you can easily make it a couple of days in advance. The recipe is below.
- ***Hot Water Crust***
- 125g Unsalted Butter
- 405g Strong White Flour
- 405g Plain Flour
- 155g Lard
- 215ml Water
- 2 Tsp of Table Salt
- ***Jelly Filling***
- 1 Stock Cube (pork/chicken/vegetable)
- 150ml Boiling Water
- 150ml Warm Water
- 4 Tsps of Powdered Gelatine (or 4 large or 8 small sheets of leaf gelatine)
- ***Meat Filling***
- 500g Diced Venison
- 300g Smoked Bacon
- 400g Pheasant Breast
- 500g Pork Mince, diced
- ½ Tsp Ground Mace
- 2 Pinches of Ground Nutmeg
- ½ Tsp Dried Sage
- ½ Tsp Thyme Chopped
- 1 Tsp Ground White Pepper
- Take the venison and pheasant and place them in a bowl together with the spices and a splash of water, give them a good stir and then place them in fridge for a few hours or overnight.
- To make the hot water crust pastry, rub the butter into the flours until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs.
- Place the lard and water in a saucepan and heat gently until the lard has melted and the mixture is hot but not boiling.
- Add the salt, stir until it dissolves, then pour this over the flour and mix quickly into a dough. Work it with a knife to begin with, then as soon as it is cool enough to get your hands in, knead the dough well with your fingers until it is mixed evenly and formed into a ball.
- Press the dough out onto a plate, cover with paper or Clingfilm and leave until barely warm (about 24-26C).
- Lightly flour the work surface and roll the dough out to about ½cm thick. Fold the dough in thirds (like a letter), then repeat this roll and fold again.
- Take a standard 1lb loaf tin and place a band of baking parchment across the middle, this will double up as a handle when the pie is baked.
- Leave the pastry to cool to room temperature (21C) and then cut off two thirds of the pastry, put the smaller piece to one side and on a floured surface roll out the other piece of pastry, so that it is bigger than the tin.
- Place the pastry in the tin and mould it up the sides of the tin and ensure there is enough overhang to join it to the lid on the edges.
- Pack half of pork mince in the bottom of the pan and season the layer, add a layer of bacon and take the venison and dust off any big bits of herbs. Layer all of the venison on top the prepared meat into the bottom of the pie.
- Add another layer of bacon then top with the pheasant and dust off any big bits of herb. Season the layer and cover it with a final layer of bacon and then cover it with a last of the pork mine, making sure everything is covered.
- Roll out the remaining piece of pastry (at this point reserve a little if you want to decorate the top), cut it to size if necessary and then brush the exposed bits of pastry in the tin with the egg so the lid can be stuck together. Trim the edges with a pair of good kitchen scissors so that it is a neat circle.
- Crimp the edges of the pastry together and then cut a hole in the middle of the pie, decorate with plaits, leaves, or anything you want, the pastry is quite forgiving.
- Place the pie in the fridge for 30 mins to firm up, then pre-heat the oven to 180C Fan, brush the pie with egg and bake for 2 hours.
- Let the pie cool completely, then make the jelly by crumbling the stock cubes into the boiling water in a jug and stirring well.
- Sprinkle the powdered gelatine into the warm water, stirring until dissolved (or cut the leaf gelatine into small pieces and soak in the warm water until soft). Stir this in with the stock and cool slightly.
- Leave the pie in the tin and pour enough jelly into the pie through the hole in the top and leave to chill overnight before eating. You may find that you need to add the jelly in batches, as it will fill up and then you'll be able to fit more gelatine in the pie.
- Leave the pie to cool overnight and then eat it the next day.
Thanks for reading, I plan to be back for one recipe before Christmas Day.
Joseph Joseph very kindly supplied me with the items featured in this post, but all opinions are my own.