Saturday, October 20

Hot Water Crust Game Pie

I was recently at Bath Farmer's market and was sorely tempted to buy a large pork pie for tea, but became sidetracked by an elderly gent, fully clad in shooting attire complete with pheasant feather in his tweed cap. He was selling a small selection of wild game, all locally shot, and he had some packs of mixed game at a stupidly cheap price. There was pheasant, rabbit and guinea fowl in the mix. A deal was struck and I walked away smiling. However the lure of the greasy crispy pastry of a pork pie still nagged, so I decided to combine the two.

The result was a triumph with a crisp pork pie type lid and a softer, suet pudding like base. Game is very lean so I added some fatty pancetta lardons, and only poured the hot stock into the pie after cooking to make sure the pastry didn't get sodden.

Lard - 50g
Butter - 50g plus more for frying
Plain Flour - 275g
Water - 120g
Mixed Game - 300g
Pancetta Lardons - 50g
1 small onion - finely chopped
2 bay leaves
Black pepper
1 beaten egg
Good stock - game preferably or beef - 100ml

Boil together the water, butter and lard with a pinch of salt. Mix into the flour with a spatula until cool enough to handle. Roll into a ball and cut one third off setting aside for the lid. On a floured work surface, roll 2/3 of the pasty into a rough disc (it may split and tear but don't worry). Line a buttered 12cm pudding basin with the pastry moulding the pasty into the basin as you go. Aim for an even layer and plug any holes and cracks as you go.

Gently fry the onion and lardons in a little butter until softened. Mix with the game, the bay leaves and a generous seasoning of pepper (no salt as the lardons carry lots). Fill the pie as full as you dare, then roll the lid and fix to the pie top using egg wash as glue. Trim, crimp, egg wash, and put a large hole in the lid for the steam to escape.  Bake at 180c for a good hour until dark golden and bubbling. If you want to de-mould the pie, allow to cool for a few minutes the tease out - the top edges may stick a little to the rim of the bowl but a small knife should remedy the issue. Then fill with hot stock before serving - magic!

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