Individual Venison Pies

Individual Venison Pies

Pies certainly have a very long culinary history. The first written reference to the word pie appears in 1301 (1). There remains some slight controversy of what constitutes a pie. Pastry all round or is a pastry top enough to qualify?. The Oxford English Dictionary defines a pie as: a baked dish of fruit , meat, fish or vegetables, covered with pastry (or a similar substance) and frequently also having a base and sides of pastry (2).  So I think we are safe to assume a pastry top qualifies, especially if it is not one of those ‘precooked’ lids that is popped onto a casserole in a pot in too many pubs!!

This is a recipe from Chef Tom Kerridge who still has the only pub in the UK with two Michelin stars. This is a very fine recipe (3). The only substantial modifications we made was to cook the filling over charcoal in the Big Green Egg, with a little chestnut smoke.  We also replaced the suet top with a puff pastry one (as we had  some to hand).

I liked that the recipe used a weighed amount of flour to toss the meat in before cooking.  Any excess was used later as a general thickener for the sauce, so nothing left to chance!  The flour was seasoned with salt and pepper.  The cubed venison was tossed in the flour then seared in a handleless pan cooked over direct heat on the BGE.

The meat was browned on all sides and then set aside.  It is important not to crowd the pan and so this was done about a third at a time.  The remaining flour was reserved.

The shallots were diced as was the carrot and celery. The carrots were cut into approximately half centimetre cubes (larger than for a soffrito) and the celery cut to a similar size.  The garlic was finely chopped.

After the last of the venison was set aside we added a further slurp of the oil. The shallots and carrots were added to the pan and cooked for around 5 minutes.

The celery and garlic were then added and cooked for a further 4 minutes until lightly coloured.  At this stage we were building flavours and so the tomato purée was stirred through and left to cook for 2 minutes before adding the crushed juniper berries.  Finally the flour that had been left in the bowl from coating the venison was added and stirred for a couple of minutes before pouring in the wine to bring it up to a simmer.  This was then cooked to reduce the volume by half and evaporate the alcohol.  This mix was then transferred to the Dutch oven together with the venison.  The stock was used to deglaze the original pan and the stock too was transferred to the Dutch oven. The herbs were tied together with a piece of string and also dropped in.

The Big Green Egg was then reset for indirect cooking by adding the platesetter and the temperature was reduced to around 130C.  The casserole was reintroduced without the lid and cooked gently for around 3hrs until the venison was meltingly tender.

At this point the herbs were removed and the prunes, chestnuts and parsley were added and stirred through the mix.

The casserole was divided into 4 pie dishes filling almost to the top.  These were placed on a tray and set aside to cool before putting into the fridge to really chill down (they were going to be used on the following day).

The Kerridge recipe then went on to make suet pastry, which is lovely.  As we had some left over puff pastry that I had made for another cook we decided to use that. The edge of the pie dish was egg washed and circles of pastry put on top to carefully seal the pie dish. Bits of excess pastry were then removed from round the edge of the dish allowing around 1cm to be stuck to the side of the dish.

To finish some pastry leaves were shaped from the pastry offcuts. These were popped on the top and then the whole pastry top was egg washed. Finally a little salt was sprinkled on the top.  We elected not to put a steam hole into the lid (which would normally be done) and this didn’t seem to cause any problem at all.

When ready to cook they were put into an oven at around 180C for around 30-40 mins until the pie mix was well up to temperature (above 74C) and the top was a lovely golden colour.

They were left to rest for 3-4 mins before serving.  It is probably easier to control the browning of the pastry in a domestic oven – but that or the Big Green Egg will both do the job well!!

We served them with triple cooked chips and broccoli which worked really well but there are so many potential options!  You can see from the last picture that the pastry was lovely and flaky and the pies were really well filled!

……………………… all in all a really rewarding outcome!!




(1) A man who makes pies for sale; a pie seller (1301). Rogero Pieman in W Brown, Yorkshire Lay Subsidy (1894) 87 (Middle English Dictionary).

(2) OED 2/3/2024   Search term = pie



Individual Venison pies

March 29, 2024
: 4
: 30 min
: 3 hr
: Reasonably easy

Soft and succulent casseroled venison with prunes and chestnuts in a perfect pie


  • 1kg venison shoulder, cut into 2.5cm cubes
  • 50g plain flour
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 4 tbsp light olive oil
  • 3 banana shallots, diced
  • 2 carrots, peeled and finely diced
  • 2 sticks of celery diced
  • 2 garlic cloves crushed and chopped (optional)
  • 1 tbsp tomato puree
  • 300ml red wine
  • 2 sprigs rosemary
  • 4 sprigs thyme
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 10 juniper berries, roughly chopped or crushed
  • 5000ml beef (or chicken) stock
  • 10 pitted prunes, halved
  • 12 cooked chestnuts, halved
  • 2 tbsp flat leaf parsley, finely chopped
  • For the Pastry:
  • one pack of rolled puff pastry
  • 1 free-range egg, lightly beaten but kept separate
  • Step 1 Pour the flour into a large bowl season with salt and pepper and then add the venison cubes. Coat the pieces well. Place a large casserole or frying pan over medium direct heat on the BGG or on a conventional hob. Add one table spoon of the oil and then a third of the venison. Brown evenly on all sides and then remove and reserve. Repeat with the rest of the venison. Reserve any flour left in the bowl.
  • Step 2 Add the remaining tablespoon of oil to the pan and when hot, add the shallots and carrots. Cook for 4-5 minutes then add the celery and garlic, cooking for a further 4 minutes until everything has softened.
  • Step 3 Stir through the tomato purée and let it cook for another 2 minutes or so and then add the juniper berries.Add any flour left in the bowl and stir. Pour in the wine and bring up to a simmer then cook until the mixture reduces by half. Transfer to a Dutch oven and add the venison back too. Use the stock to deglaze the first pan and add this to the Dutch oven. Tie the herbs together and drop them into the casserole
  • Step 4 Convert the BGE to indirect cooking and add a little cherry wood if required. Add the dutch oven uncovered and cook at around 130-140C. (if cooking on a hob or a conventional oven add the lid), then cover with a lid.
  • Step 5 Cook gently for around two and a half hours until the meat is tender. Remove the herbs, and add the prunes, chestnuts and parsley to the venison stew and gently mix. Close down the vents and allow to cook for a further 30 mins before cooling
  • Step 6 Divide the casserole into four individual pie dishes, filling the dishes almost to the top. Place the filled dishes on a baking tray and set aside to cool (ideally in the fridge overnight)
  • Step 7 Cut out lids from the puff pastry allowing around 1cm overlap of the dish. Brush the edge of each dish with the beaten egg and then put on the pastry lid and firmly secure around the edge of the dishes. Decorate if required with pastry offcuts. Trim any excess if you need to. Brush the top of each pie with more beaten egg and finally sprinkle with a little salt. We elected not to put a steam hole in our tops before cooking (but the original recipe suggested cutting a small hole into each pie to allow steam to be released during cooking).
  • Step 8 Place the pies into the oven and cook for 45-50 minutes or until a deep golden brown.
  • Step 9 Serve with contrasting vegetables

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