Potato-topped venison & mushroom pies

by Ray McVinnie | Cuisine issue #135
Serves: 6Any pies with flaky pastry bottoms and whipped parmesan mash tops will be popular - they are in our house. And these are more than good enough for a special winter dinner party.

The filling can also be served simply as a venison and mushroom stew with mashed potato if time is too short to make it into pies. A well-flavoured red wine like Shiraz is my choice here.

4 tablespoons olive oil
650g venison Denver leg, diced 3cm
flour for dusting
1 onion, finely chopped
150g pancetta, diced
3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 large sprig fresh thyme
200g brown button mushrooms, halved
150ml red wine
250ml well-flavoured beef stock (I used Essential Cuisine Classic Beef Jus)
20g dried sliced porcini, soaked in 250ml hot water for 20 minutes, drained, squeezed dry and chopped, soaking water strained and reserved
2 tablespoons tomato paste
salt and freshly ground black pepper
1kg floury potatoes, peeled and diced 4cm
100ml hot milk
1/2 cup finely grated Italian parmesan
400g flaky puff pastry

Heat the oil in a deep frying pan over high heat. Dust the venison with flour and fry in batches until browned. Remove and reserve.

Add the onion, pancetta, garlic, thyme and mushrooms to the pan. Fry for 10 minutes or until the onion is soft and golden. Add the reserved venison and the wine. Let the wine bubble for 1 minute then add the stock, porcini and their soaking water, and the tomato paste. Mix well, bring to the boil and simmer for 1 hour until the venison is very tender. Taste, season and cool.

Boil the potatoes in well-salted water until tender. Drain well, add the milk and parmesan, and mash. Whip with a whisk until smooth. Reserve.

Preheat the oven to 200°C. Roll out the pastry and line 6 individual pie dishes (I used standard 150ml capacity oval pie dishes). Fill each with some of the venison mixture and pile mashed potato on top. Bake in the oven for 30-40 minutes until the pastry is well cooked, the filling bubbling and the potatoes well browned.


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