This is a magnificent pie uses a much underused cut of venison – the fore shank or shoulder shank.
You don’t have to use Oysters, but it is a very medieval tradition in the UK and one I wanted to try. It’s delicious and dated back to when oysters were cheaper than meat and were used to bulk out pies. The pastry is a thing of beauty and totally delicious.
- 8 shoulder shanks off medium size deer – adjust according to deer size!
- 6 sliced brown onions
- 12 cloves of garlic
- 4 sticks celery
- 4 carrots
- Flour for dredging
- 1 block of butter for browning
- 1 cup of oil for browning
- Thyme, rosemary and parsley
- 18 oysters if you wish
- 2 pints ale/beer
- 1.5 pints strong beef venison stock. Make at home or buy the best reduced beef stock you can on the internet.
- 1 tbsp tomato paste
- 1 tbsp corn starch
- 2 big marrow bones, about 5 inches long
- 1/pint sherry vinegar
- Rough Puff suet pastry:
- 600g/ 22 oz plain flour
- 3/4tsp salt
- 250g/9 oz shredded beef suet
- 400g/14 oz cold cubed butter
- 350ml/ 12 fl oz ice cold water
- 12 Rooster potatoes, medium sized
- Mixed chopped rosemary and thyme, 1 tbsp
- Salt and pepper
- 3 oz clarified butter.
To make (the day before) peel and slice the spuds on a mandolin. Keep hold of your fingertips. Do not wash. Lay them in a skillet, layering seasoning, herbs and butter until about an inch thick. Place parchment paper on top and bake at 16c/350f for 1.5 hrs. remove, press with another pan and allow to set overnight in the fridge.
Brown the floured venison in a splash of oil until golden. Slice the onions and tie up a bundle of thyme. Slowly cook in a splash of oil and butter until golden brown, stirring regularly.
Cut the vegetables into a mirepoix. – about a ½ inch dice. Crush and chop the garlic. Sauté the mirepoix in butter and oil until soft, then add the onions. Add the spoon of tomato paste and mix in. Tie up a bouquet garni – an aromatic bundle of Thyme, rosemary and bay leaf, wrapped in butchers string.
Add the shanks, place it all in a deep roasting tin or casserole. Pour in the stock and ale. Mix and cover well, with foil or a lid. Bake for 2-3 hours at 160c or 350f until the meat comes off the bone.
Take out the shanks and strain the remainder through a sieve. Hold onto the veg. Now pull apart the shank meat and chop into big chunks. Thicken the sauce with a little cornstarch and water. Reduce the sherry vinegar until only a ¼ is left and add for tang. Taste for seasoning. Add the meat and veg back in and pout into your pie dish. Allow it to cool right down, then add the oysters.
Make the pastry while the pie is cooling.
Put the flour, chopped cold butter, suet, salt into mixer and mix. Add water until mixed but don’t do it for too long – keep it cold. Tip out onto a surface and knead until its in a ball. Roll out into a rectangle and make 4 folds, roil them in then cling and chill. Repeat 15 minutes apart 4 times.
Roll out into the shape of your pie dish and measure the location of the bone marrows. Cut the holes for them.
Lay the pastry on top, feeding the marrowbones through. Wrap over the edges of the dish and glaze with egg yolks beaten with salt. Make patterns with a fork and bake for 40 minute sat 200c /440f.
Meanwhile cut the pommes anna into slices and bake in the oven.
Serve heroically with a big red wine!