A game pie always makes a spectacular centrepiece and this handsome example is amazingly straightforward to make – especially if you buy mixed game meat ready-prepared from a good butcher.
For the filling
- 2 banana shallots, finely chopped
- 2 garlic cloves, crushed
- 700g/1lb 9oz mixed, boned, diced game meat, such as venison, rabbit, pheasant, pigeon and boar
- 200g/7oz minced pork belly
- 200g/7oz back bacon, rind removed, diced
- 2 tbsp Madeira wine
- ½ tsp ground mace
- ½ tsp ground allspice
- 2 tbsp chopped parsley
- 2 tbsp chopped thyme
- salt and white pepper
For the hot water crust pastry
- 450g/1lb plain flour
- 100g/3½oz strong white bread flour
- 75g/2½oz cold, unsalted butter, cut into roughly 1cm/½in dice
- ½ tsp salt
- 100g/3½oz lard, plus extra for greasing
- 1 free-range egg yolk, beaten, to glaze
Preheat the oven to 200C/180C Fan/Gas 6. Grease a 20cm/8in spring-form cake tin, about 7cm/2¾in deep, with lard.
First make the filling. In a large bowl, mix the shallots and garlic. Add the game, pork belly mince, diced bacon, Madeira, spices and herbs. Season with salt and a little white pepper.
Using your hands, mix all the ingredients thoroughly together. Put in the fridge while you prepare the pastry.
For the hot water crust pastry, combine the flours in a bowl, add the butter and rub in lightly with your fingertips.
Heat 200ml/7fl oz of water, the salt and lard in a saucepan until just boiling. Pour the mixture onto the flour and mix together with a spoon. Once cool enough to handle, tip onto a floured surface and knead into a smooth dough.
Work as quickly as you can now (as the pastry will become more crumbly as it cools). Cut off two-thirds of the pastry, roll it out and use to line the prepared tin, leaving any excess hanging over the side. Check there are no cracks or holes in the pastry. Roll out the remaining pastry for the lid and leave to one side.
Spoon the filling into the pastry-lined tin. Press it down and level the surface.
Brush the pastry edge with beaten egg yolk and place the pastry lid on top. Crimp the edges to seal and trim off the excess pastry neatly. Brush the top with more egg yolk. Make a hole in the middle of the lid for steam.
Stand the tin on a baking tray and bake the pie for 30 minutes. Turn the oven down to 160C/140C Fan/Gas 3 and bake for a further 1¾ hours.
Leave the pie to cool completely in the tin before removing. Slice on a plate to catch any juices. Serve at room temperature.