Saturday, March 16, 2013

Late Winter Venison Pie

This winter, we received gifts of venison from some really good people in our lives. I've tried to do something interesting with each cut of meat. To celebrate St. Patrick's Day weekend, I wanted to make a shepherd's pie for one of our hunter-friends who was coming over to help with an outdoor task. I thought it would be nice to surprise him when he and D came in from the cold with a steaming dish of his own venison cooked in a tasty pie. I found my inspiration for this adapted recipe from a blog called Food for Hunters. Instead of a plain old mashed potato crust, I decided to add some parsnips we had hanging out in the fridge from a few weekends ago. It makes the crust a little sweeter, but because I used beer instead of wine for the stew, the crust will be a nice compliment to a more bitter-savory stew.

Venison Shepherd's Pie

 pound venison cubes (stew meat)
1 medium onion
4 garlic cloves
(2 tbsp bacon fat)
olive oil
1 large carrot
1 medium turnip
2 stalks of celery
1 cup mushrooms (any kind)
3/4 cup or about 20 green beans
2 tbsp rosemary
1 bottle of beer (the darker the better)
1 3/4 cup veggie or beef stock
2 tbsp tomato paste
2 tbsp flour

Potato Topping
2 medium parsnips
2 large white or red potatoes
3 oz cheddar cheese, shredded
4 tbsp butter
1 egg, lightly beaten
salt and pepper to taste

Start by peeling the parsnips and potatoes, chopping them into cubes and immersing them in boiling water with a little bit of salt. Let cook until the cubes are tender.

In the meantime, chop your onions and garlic. Set aside. Then chop your venison into small bite-sized pieces.

[Check your potatoes at this point. If they are tender and done, add 4 tbsp butter and 3 oz of shredded cheese along with some salt and pepper and mash. Set aside to cool down.]

Heat the olive oil (or, alternatively, bacon fat) in a cast iron pot that is about the size of your pie pan. Saute the onion and garlic until they become soft and are beginning to brown. Add the venison pieces and season with a little bit of salt and pepper. Sautee until the meat begins to brown and then transfer to a bowl off to the side.

De-glaze the cast iron pan by pouring into it (while it's hot) the bottle of beer. Add 2 tsp or a cube or two of beef stock concentrate along with the tomato paste. Stir the onion-and-venison leavings from the pan into the liquid. After a few minutes, add finely chopped rosemary and let simmer for a little while. Pour the liquid into the bowl with the venison.

Add a bit more olive oil to the pan and add your chopped vegetables. Season with a little bit of salt and pepper. When the veggies are soft, add the venison mixture back into the pan and stir until combined. Add 2 tbsp of flour into the meat mixture and stir to thicken the sauce.

At this point, pre-heat your oven to 400 degrees F.

Turn your attention to the now-warm-to-cool parsnip-potato mix. Mix in your beaten egg.

Spoon the venison mixture into a pie pan. Add dollops of your potato mixture on top of the venison, starting from the outside and moving in until the entire "pie" is topped. Fluff a bit with the fork to make it look nicey-nice, sprinkle fresh ground black pepper on top, and drizzle with olive oil.

It's ready to go in the oven! Bake for 20-25 minutes, or until the potato crust is golden brown and the innards are bubbling.

Serve to your loved ones and enjoy!

No comments: