A few months ago I bought rabbit meat from one of the stalls which was made into the most amazing bunny pie (it's probably one of the best things I've ever cooked!), and I've been thinking of what my next unusual pie adventure could be. And then one day, the stall had squirrel and roe deer. It was an obvious choice.
Squirrel has quite an unusual taste, but balances out the gamey venison beautifully. This is quite a rich pie, and probably suits being more of an autumnal dish (I live in Scotland though, so winter food is a year-round treat!). I served it with roast potatoes and green beans sautéed in garlic butter. YUM.
To make this pie (which I promise is good), you will need:
- one squirrel
- several thick rashers of bacon
- roe deer meet
- pine nuts
- chicken stock
- corn flour
- red wine
- herbs (rosemary, thyme, a bay leaf)
- puff pastry for the lid (I cheated and bought ready made stuff)
- shortcrust pastry for the base (there's a good recipe here)
- one egg
Turn your oven on to about 170 degrees.
Start by frying the venison and squirrel in some oil in a large pan, until the meat has browned. Take this off the heat, add a wee bit of butter, and fry the onion and garlic for a minute or so. Add in the bacon and chop up your vegetables as this cooks.
Add the mushrooms, leeks, pine nuts, and meat to the pan. Add in one large mug of chicken stock and one large mug of red wine. Add salt, pepper and your herbs, stick on a lid, turn the heat down slightly, and let it simmer for ages - leave it for 30 - 45 minutes (just check in on it, give it the occasional stir and go by taste). When it's all cooked and smelling amazing, you can thicken up the sauce by adding a little bit of corn flour (do a tablespoon at a time) until it looks thick enough for pie gravy.
Prepare your pie dish by lining the bottom with shortcrust pastry. Spoon in your pie mix, and layer puff pastry across the top. Decorate with adorable pastry decorations (obviously optional, but when else are you going to get the chance to eat a pastry acorn with antlers?). Brush the pastry with egg, and pop it in the oven for 20 - 25 minutes.
When the pastry is golden brown, it's ready to go! Enjoy (and look forward to the weird looks you get when you tell people you had squirrel for dinner).