This is a pie to be eaten hot on a cold wintery day after the sort of walk that leaves your ears and toes tingling and your hands reaching for the warmth of a log fire.
A classic country recipe, it can be made from any mix of game - try venison, pheasant, partridge, pigeon or rabbit. If you're short on game you can bulk it out with some stewing beef.
You'll need to plan ahead, both to marinate the meat and to pre-cook the pie filling so you don't overcook the pastry.
Although you can cut corners with ready-made pastry, I do strongly recommend you make the one in the recipe. It's deliciously short and buttery and makes a big difference to the finished pie.
Game Pie (serves 6)
700g mixed game, to include some venison or beef
50-60g streaky bacon, smoked or unsmoked
A good knob of butter
2 tbsp plain flour
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Gravy browning (optional)
For the marinade:
1 large onion, peeled and chopped
1 stick of celery, washed and chopped
1/2 tspn coriander seeds
10 juniper berries (or use allspice)
2 bay leaves
Small bunch of parsley
225 ml red wine
50 ml olive oil
For the pastry:
225g plain flour
1/2 tspn salt
40g white cooking fat
2 eggs yolks
1 egg, beaten, to glaze
Trim the meat of any gristle and cut the meat into bite-sized pieces. Crush the spices lightly and add to a large bowl with the meat and remaining marinade ingredients. Mix well, cover and leave to marinate for at least eight hours.
Then strain the marinade into a bowl and reserve the meat and vegetables.
Cut the bacon into lardons and fry it in a deep pan over a low heat until the fat runs. Add the butter to the pan and fry off the mushrooms for a minute or two.
Stir through the flour and cook for a minute or two more. Slowly add the strained marinade, stirring until the sauce thickens.
Put the meat and vegetables back into the pan, stir well and bring to boiling point. Season with black pepper and salt to taste, cover the pan and simmer over a low heat for around an hour and a half. Add a little stock or water if necessary.
Because the meat goes in unbrowned, you may want to add a little gravy browning to colour the gravy.
Once all the meat is tender, check the seasoning and adjust if necessary, thicken further if required, then allow the mixture to cool.
To make the pastry, sift the flour and salt into a bowl and rub in the two fats until you have a breadcrumb consistency.
Beat the egg yolks with two tablespoons of cold water and blend into the pastry, kneading it until it leaves the sides of the bowl clean. Add a tiny bit more water if required. Chill in the fridge for at least an hour.
Take a deep pie dish and spoon in the cold filling, placing a pastry funnel in the middle (use an upturned egg cup if you don't have one). If you have too much gravy, spoon some off to serve on the side.
On a floured surface, roll out the pastry to about 6mm thick. Be gentle with it, the butter and eggs make it hard to handle but it's worth it in the end.
Cut strips to put along the edge of the pie dish, moisten them with egg wash, then cover the pie with the remaining pastry. Seal and crimp the edges and brush the pastry with egg wash.
Bake in an oven preheated to 425F/220C/Gas Mark 7 for 20 minutes, then reduce the heat to 375F/190C/Gas Mark 5 and cook for a further 30 minutes or until the pie is golden brown.
Going ... going ... gone. I think they liked it.