The online magazine
dedicated to the
discussion & revival
of British foodways.


Venison pie another way

Raised and cold. This is a good way to use the scrappier and gamier parts of venison, like sinewy shoulder chops. The recipe combines an old-fashioned marinade--either a simple Victorian classic or a mid-twentieth century standard, both of which are superb--with a hot water piecrust and jellied stock binder to make a raised pie for service cold; a summertime, or anytime, pie. It is the Editor’s own recipe and we immodestly consider it very nice. You will need an 8 inch springform pan, several smaller springforms or, better, a traditional raised pie mold, for this dish.

Buck Deer Marinade I:

-2 cups red wine
-½ cup Port
-several sprigs of fresh thyme
-12 bruised juniper berries
-2 garlic cloves, crushed
-2 or 3 bay leaves

Put the wine and port in a pan and reduce by half. Cool the liquid, add the other ingredients and marinate the venison for 12-24 hours. The marinade is suitable for all other game too. The original version uses smaller proportions of herbs and berries.

Marinade II:

-2 carrots, peeled and chopped fine
-1 onion, peeled and chopped fine
-2 celery ribs, chopped fine
-1 clove garlic, peeled and smashed
-1 Tablespoon olive or neutral oil
-1 cup cider, or red wine, vinegar
-1 cup hard cider or red wine
-4 parsley sprigs
-2 bay leaves
-1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
-2-3 fresh rosemary sprigs (or 1 teaspoon dried)
-6 juniper berries, bruised
-1/2 teaspoon allspice
-6-10 black peppercorns

Brown the carrot, onion, celery and garlic in the olive oil, then add everything else to the pot, bring it to a boil, partially cover and simmer for about half an hour. Let the marinade cool before pouring it over the venison.

For the filling:

-about 1 ½ lb venison, cut into chunks of varying size and shape, from about 3 / 8 to 1 inch, square or ragged, marinated overnight
-2-4 minced shallots
-1 cup minced mushrooms
-about ¾ cup sliced mushrooms
-1 Tablespoon minced parsley
-salt and pepper (generous amounts at your discretion)
-2 thin slices of ham
-jellied stock (see the notes)

1. Drain the liquid from the venison, remove the bay, garlic and peppercorns from the meat and pat it dry.
Mix together all of the filling ingredients except for the ham and stock and refrigerate it for a few hours.

Preheat the oven to 400°

2. Make the hotwater pastry and line your springform or pie mold with it according to the instructions ‘A’-‘E’ that follow these numbered paragraphs.

3. Place the ham on the pastry lining the bottom of the springform and then spoon the filling into the pie.

4. After filling the pie, set the pastry lid on top and bring the edges of the pastry case over inside the circumference of the pie pan (once the pie has cooled you will want the spring to release without tearing away the crust at the seam) to crimp the lid and case together.

5. Crimp the lid onto the pie, cut a vent in its center, decorate it with scraps and brush it with the egg.

6. Bake the pie for half an hour, then lower the heat to 325° for about 1 ½ hours more. Let the pie cool for 10-15 minutes.

7. Meanwhile, heat the stock just until it liquefies and pour it through the vent of the pie until it fills the pastry case.

8. Refrigerate the pie overnight to allow it to set, remove it carefully from your form and serve it cold with Branston pickle, cold bread sauce, Cumberland sauce and/or mustard. Some pickled onions or walnuts, as well as cornichon, are pleasant accompaniments.

For the pastry:

-scant cup of water (about 7 oz)
-6 oz lard
-1 lb lard (about 3 cups)
-½ teaspoon salt
-a beaten egg

A. Boil the lard in the water, then pour it into a large bowl containing the flour and salt.

B. As soon as you can handle the hot dough without burning yourself, form it into a ball.

C. Cut out a quarter of the ball to use for the lid of the pie.

D. Work quickly now: If the dough becomes too cool it will not cohere. Put the rest of the dough into your springform or pie mold and evenly line it with pastry by quickly pushing the dough into the corners of the base and up the sides of the pan: Make sure that the top of the pastry is about an inch higher than the pan. Be sure not to leave any cracks in the cough or the stock will not set and your ‘pie’ will turn out sodden.

E. Return to Step 3.


Pies - Raised pies made with hotwater pastry and meant to be eaten cold remain peculiar to the British Isles. Their failure to spread elsewhere strikes us as peculiar, unless their preparation is simply alien to practitioners of other cuisines. That, however, is not much of an explanation because raised pies are not that difficult to make and countless visitors have encountered them to their unfailing delight in British public houses, where they are a lunchtime staple.

- Traditional raised game pie molds are fairly difficult to find in Britain and virtually impossible to obtain in the United States. They also get expensive. The molds look something like the hulls of Teddy Roosevelt’s Great White Fleet, with their high freeboards, flush decks and pinched sterns. They produce a beautiful pie.

- The first marinade is adapted from Eliza Acton, Modern Cookery For Private Families (London 1855); the second, from Constance Spry and Rosemary Hume, The Constance Spry Cookery Book (London 1956).

- Purists will want to make jellied stock by simmering a pig’s foot (and bones from the meat in the filling if you have them) with aromatics, peppercorns and dried thyme for several hours before straining it, but in this pie that approach is not critical. Beef or veal stock laced with a packet of gelatin, or even canned consommé, work fine here and have a certain benefit: They do not dilute the flavor of the marinated venison with pork tones.

- If you use the second marinade and choose hard cider, pair it with the cider vinegar; if red wine, the red wine vinegar.

- We vary the shapes of the meat for the visual effect on the cooled, cut pie; be careful not to break up the sliced mushrooms for the same reason.

- If you are using wild rather than farmed venison, be sure to trim away any of the yellow fat with utter ruthlessness; it tastes rancid and revolting.