This hearty dish is the ultimate comfort food.

"Pasties, pies and stews are great way to use up all the extra game legs and
trimmings that we have in abundance during the winter game season. You could
substitute the game meat for stewing beef or even chicken legs. You could also
eliminate the pastry and place the whole mix in a roasting tray, top with mashed
potato and bake in the oven, for a great game cottage pie. We make our own
shortcrust pastry using lard, which used to be common but is now difficult to get.
It’s worth making your own, but to save time, you can substitute with a good
quality store-bought shortcrust pastry." - Dermot Staunton 

Yield: Serves 8 as starter

Ingredients

  • 500g shortcrust pastry, made with lard if possible
  • 2 egg yolks beaten with milk

For the game mix

  • 500g venison haunch, deboned and very finely diced
  • 500g pheasant thighs, deboned, skinned and very finely diced
  • 1 tablespoon sunflower oil
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 3 banana shallots, finely
  • 2 cloves garlic, peeled and grated
  • 1 large carrot, peeled and finely diced
  • 2 sprigs thyme, picked
  • 1 tablespoon tomato purée
  • 200ml Madeira
  • 100ml ruby port
  • 1 teaspoon juniper berries, black peppercorns, 2 star anise and 1 stick of
  • cinnamon tied up in a piece of muslin cloth
  • 1.5 litres brown chicken or game stock
  • 1 tablespoon cornflour
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • 1 tablespoon redcurrant jelly
  • Worcestershire sauce and sherry vinegar, to taste

Method

  1. Place a frying pan over a medium heat. Season the meat with salt and brown in
    small batches with a little sunflower oil. Remove from the pan and set aside.
  2. In a separate large casserole or stock pot, sweat the shallots down in the butter
    for five minutes. Season with salt, add the garlic, carrot and thyme and continue
    to cook for five minutes. Add the tomato purée and cook for a further two
    minutes.
  3. Add the Madeira, port and spice bag and reduce by half over a high heat.
    Add the meat and the stock. The stock should just barely cover the meat and
    vegetables. Bring to a boil, skim off any impurities and then reduce the heat to
    the lowest simmer and cover with a lid for 1½-2 hour or until the meat is very
    tender.
  4. Place the cornflour and mustard in a cup and whisk in some cold water. Whisk
    this mix into the stew along with the redcurrant jelly and return to a boil. This
    should thicken your sauce, if not add a little more cornflour and water. Season
    the stew with salt, black pepper, a few dashes of Worcestershire and a splash of
    sherry vinegar. Remove from the heat and cool to room temperature. Place in the
    fridge, preferably overnight.
  5. To assemble the pasties, dust a work bench with flour and roll the pastry out to
    a thickness of about 3mm. Use a ring cutter or a small saucer to cut the pastry
    into circles roughly 10cm in diameter. Place on a floured baking sheet. Gather the
    pastry trimming and knead briefly. Repeat the process until all the pastry has
    been used. Cover with a damp cloth as you go.
  6. Place a tablespoon of the game mix in the centre of a piece of pastry and egg-
    wash the edges. Fold either side up to meet in the middle, and then carefully seal
    the edges, pushing out as much air as possible. It's useful to flour your hands at
    this stage to stop them sticking to the pastry. Lay the pastie on its side so you’re
    looking at a semi circle.
  7. Egg wash the edge and, starting at one corner, fold the pastry onto itself all the
    way around so that your left with a pleated edge. Egg-wash the top of the pastry
    and sprinkle with flaked sea salt and some chopped thyme. Repeat with the
    remaining pastry sheets. When ready to serve, place in a preheated oven at
    180ºC/gas mark 4 for 12-14 minutes. In the restaurant, we serve this as a starter
    with Jerusalem artichoke, chestnut purée and pickled chanterelles.

TIP: This recipe will make more than you need but the pasties freeze well and can be
cooked straight from the freezer. Have as a snack with some brown sauce and a
pickled onion.