Venison Ale Pies with Carrot and Potato Rösti Topping
Portion/Yield:Serves 4 as a main course
Looking out of the window today the sky is grey and the day is gloomy. Part of me sighs and thinks ‘Oh, it’s going to be winter soon’, but another part of me is happy and jumping with joy as I do have a special place in my heart for autumn. I especially love the colours of autumn or fall (‘fall’ being the American term for autumn, which I actually think is more descriptive and exactly what autumn is all about).
Cooking and eating pies at this time of the year provides a welcome comforting ‘hug’, making you feel that the cold and gloom are not so bad after all. The game season is in full swing now and I particularly enjoy cooking with venison. It’s packed full of flavour, contains very little fat and is a bit different. During the summer we cook and serve a lot of beef, so when the game season begins it’s great as it offers us more variety, and I like a bit of variety.
Venison can be very strong in flavour, so make sure when you buy it from your butcher you know exactly what it is that you are getting. Your butcher will be able to tell you if it’s fallow, muntjac or red dear. They all vary a bit in flavour, so choose according to your preference.
These delicious venison pies are perfect for providing a comforting autumnal meal. The carrot and potato rösti topping is a different variation on the norm of using either mashed potato or pastry (you could even try using celeriac instead of the potato).
I have made these in four individual serving dishes, but if you prefer a large family-style pie, use one large serving dish and remember that the pie will require a slightly longer cooking time. Serve simply with plenty of crusty bread to mop up the delicious juices.
Ingredients & Method
For the venison pie filling
- 1kg boneless venison shoulder meat, cut into 2cm cubes
- 2 tablespoons plain flour
- 2 tablespoons rapeseed oil
- 150g onions (prepared weight), chopped
- 2 cloves garlic, crushed
- 100g carrots (prepared weight), peeled and coarsely grated
- 100g celery (prepared weight), finely sliced
- 1 tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary
- 500ml Adnams Southwold Bitter
- 250ml white chicken stock
- sea salt and freshly cracked black pepper
For the carrot and potato rösti topping
- 250g carrots (prepared weight), peeled and coarsely grated
- 250g potatoes (prepared weight), peeled and coarsely grated
- 5 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
- 80g mature Shipcord cheese (or you can use mature Cheddar), grated
First cook the venison for the pie filling. Preheat the oven to 160°C/Gas Mark 3. In a large mixing bowl, combine the venison pieces, flour and salt and pepper, mixing to coat the meat evenly.
Heat the oil in a large, ovenproof casserole dish over a medium heat and cook the venison pieces until golden brown all over, about 8 minutes. Add the onions, garlic, carrots, celery and rosemary and cook for a further 6 minutes, reducing the heat a little if the pan is getting too hot. Add the ale and stock, then bring to a gentle simmer.
Cover with the lid, transfer to the oven and cook for 1½ hours. By this time, the venison meat should be tender and flaky and the liquid reduced and thickened. If the liquid is still a bit runny, then return the dish to the hob, uncover and bubble over a high heat to reduce and thicken the sauce.
Increase the oven temperature to 180°C/Gas Mark 4. Divide the pie filling evenly between 4 individual pie dishes.
For the rösti topping, simply mix all the ingredients together in a bowl and season with salt and pepper. Divide the topping mixture between the 4 pie dishes, covering the venison mixture completely. Bake in the oven for 25 minutes, until the topping is crisp and golden brown (if you are making one larger pie, then bake it for 35–40 minutes). Serve.