Hunker down with this warming venison pot pie with rich red wine gravy. Make one large pie or several individual portions.
Venison is often maligned for being extremely lean, and therefore dry. I believe that, with proper preparation and cooking methods, venison can be lifted to glorious heights. I’m pretty sure I proved that with my smoked & braised shanks recipe.
Similarly, since I’m fortunate enough to harvest my own venison, I get a choice in how it’s broken down. I’ve become a fan of turning any reasonably chunky bits into chunks/cubes/dice rather than small steaks or ground meat. The diced cubes make a great toothsome option for stews and braises. When cooked long enough, they turn into tender and yielding bites of venison goodness.
Which brings us to this rich pot pie. As usual, you can substitute the venison in this dish for beef or lamb. Just do a straight swap for any diced meats. What makes this pie particularly delicious is the rich gravy that cradles the venison. The layers of flavor are built from reduced red wine and the addition of a secret umami ingredient – porcini powder. It’s an optional addition, but definitely brings an added depth.
You can further customize this dish with the pastry lid. Depending on your preference, go with either a pie crust or a flaky seal of puff pastry. Pie crust is going to be denser and crumblier, and puff will be light but still rich with butter. Mmmm…butter… I used a homemade pie crust for the pie you see in the pictures, but pre-made frozen crusts work fine too, and that’s what I’ve included in the recipe.
Instead of one large casserole dish, consider splitting the recipe into several ramekins to make individual servings. Simply shorten the oven time slightly to account for the smaller pastry discs.
Add some olive oil to a heavy based pot (I use an enameled cast iron pot) and place over medium high heat. Add the venison chunks, working in batches to prevent overcrowding, and brown well on all sides. Salt each batch as they are browning, then remove to a bowl.
In the same pot, place 1 tablespoon of butter, then the mushrooms. Cook the mushrooms until they are browned and color has developed, about 5 minutes. Remove from the pot. Add in any remaining olive oil to the same pot, and cook the onion and carrots until softened, 7-10 minutes. Season the veggies with salt, pepper and sprinkle in the porcini powder.
Add the mushrooms and venison back to the pot, then pour in the wine and beef stock. Throw in the star anise, bay leaves and thyme. Bring to the broil then turn the heat down to a gentle simmer, place the lid on the pot and cook for two hours.
Melt the remaining tablespoon of butter, then combine with water and flour to form a slurry/paste. Pour the paste into the stew and stir to combine. This will help thicken the gravy. Continue cooking until the meat is tender and the gravy has thickened to a desirable consistency.
Preheat an oven to 350f.
Pour the cooked venison mixture into a casserole dish. You may want to wait for it to cool a little so it’s not piping hot as you put the pastry on top. Arrange you pastry or pie crust on top of the casserole dish, crimping the edges to seal. Use a knife to poke 3-4 slits in the top of the pie then brush the top with beaten egg.
Place the casserole dish onto a baking tray (to catch any spills if the filling bubbles over) and place into the oven to bake for 30 minutes, or until the pastry/crust is golden brown.