Game, Ale and Currant Pie: A combination of land, air and sea.
I wanted to try and get something close to how I picture traditional English game pies with this recipe. So after some reading I decided to skip on making an inedible coffin of pastry but thought the mix of fruit, game and anchovy in a very thick strong sauce would make a delicious combination. A quote I found by Benjamin Disraeli especially acting as a guide: “the curious cook had contrived to represent all the once-living forms that were now entombed in that gorgeous sepulchre”.
Interestingly enough, Tudor cooks also made an ancestor of the Turducken consisting of “a pigeon inside a partridge inside a chicken inside a goose inside a turkey, which was then put in a pastry case called a coffin and served surrounded by hare and other game birds” although sadly I have not gone quite so overboard here, having 4 mouths to feed rather than hundreds.
This looks expensive right? Well, wrong! It takes a long time to make and if you were to buy the ingredients at Waitrose you would pay a small fortune (they sell vacuum packed mixed game at back-breaking prices), but if you look around and ask at local markets, this meal can be shockingly cheap. To total it out, I spent £6 on game, £1 on Bacon, £2 on the Beer and about £3 on the vegetables and berries that I couldn’t get from the garden. So you can have a very fancy and complex sounding meal for 8 for well under £15, that’s less than takeaway for 2!
– Recipe –
About 400-800g jointed and boned Game meat (I used 1 Mallard and 2 Pigeons) / 300mls dark Beer or Ale / 6-12 rashers of Bacon / juice and finely chopped peel from 1 Orange / 4 Anchovy Fillets mashed with a fork / 300g Gooseberries, halved / 3 heaped tablespoons Redcurrant Jelly/ 3 tablespoons Plain Flour/ 2 Onions roughly chopped / 300g Mushrooms roughly chopped / Pre-prepared Puff Pastry
- Joint and bone any birds/rabbits you are using, cut the meat into large roughly equally sized portions for browning, rub these with Course Sea Salt. Heat a large skillet with a little Oil in the bottom and sear the meat in batches at a very high temperature until a dark ‘crust’ is formed, then reserve.
- Brown the Bacon in the same fashion and then chop all the meats into roughly equal cubes.
- Turn the heat down and fry the Onion in the same pan until soft and translucent (5 minutes), add the mushrooms and cook until they are shrunken and slightly darkened (another 3-4 minutes).
- While frying the Onion, take a small bowl and mix the Redcurrant Jelly, mashed Anchovy, Orange Juice/Peel and 100ml Beer with a fork until a thick paste is formed.
- Add the Gooseberries to the pan, stir for 30 seconds and then add the Flour and stir in until everything has a light brown soggy crust but is not burned, this will thicken the sauce and spread the flavours. It may be necessary to add a little Oil and Beer to saturate any white bits of flour still visible, this will stop clumping.
- Pour the Fruit, Beer and Fish paste into the pan, mix it in thoroughly and then slowly pour in the rest of the Beer while stirring.
- Turn the heat right down and simmer for 20-40 minutes until the sauce is thick, then let it cool for 15-30 minutes.
- Grease a pie dish, line it with half of the rolled out Puff-Pastry and then pour the pie filling in, top over with the other half of the pastry and then roll up and use any excess pastry to decorate the top, brush with whisked Egg to glaze.
- Cook at gas mark 5 (375F, 190C) for 45 minutes.