Venison pie

This hearty and rich meat pie from Aldo Zilli is ideal for serving at any gathering during the festive season
By Aldo Zilli
Venison pie
  • Rating:
  • Serves: 4
  • Cook Time: 1 hour 55 minutes
  • Prep Time: 35 minutes plus soaking and cooling
  • Effort: medium


  • 20 g dried porcini, mushrooms
  • 100 g pancetta, chopped
  • about 6 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 red onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1 large carrot, finely chopped
  • 1 large parsnip, finely chopped
  • 1 large stick celery, finely chopped
  • 1 small potato, finely chopped
  • 3 tbsp plain flour, seasoned with salt and pepper
  • 600 g venison shoulder, diced
  • 1 tbsp sherry vinegar
  • 200 ml red wine
  • 200 ml chicken stock
  • 1 tbsp juniper berries, roughly crushed
  • 2 large bay leaves
  • about 700 g puff pastry, thawed if frozen
  • beaten eggs, to glaze

Tips and Suggestions

If you want to get ahead, the filling can be made the day before, then chilled, so all you have to do on the day is to line and fill the pie dish, then bake the pie.


1. Put the porcini mushrooms in a small heatproof bowl and pour over enough boiling water to cover. Leave for 20-30 minutes to soak.

2. Heat a large frying pan, then put in the pancetta and fry about 4-5 minutes or until browned and the fat starts to run. Remove with a slotted spoon and place in a bowl. Pour 1 tablespoon of the olive oil into the pan with the pancetta fat, tip in the onion and garlic and fry for 5-8 minutes or until softened. Remove from the pan and put in the bowl with the pancetta.

3. Heat another 2 tablespoons of the olive oil in a large frying pan, tip in all the root vegetables and fry for about 5-8 minutes or until soft, adding another spoonful of oil if needed, then combine with the pancetta and onion mix.

4. Put the seasoned flour in a large bowl with the venison and toss together. Heat about 2 tbsp olive oil in a large deep frying or sauté pan, add the venison and fry over a high heat, turning, until almost sticking to the pan. Pour in the vinegar and cook for 30 seconds before adding the wine, then stir with a wooden spoon to deglaze the pan and remove all the caramelised bits at the bottom of it. Stir in the chicken stock, the pancetta mix, the drained mushrooms, juniper berries and bay leaves, then cover and cook for 45 minutes over a medium to low heat so it simmers gently until the venison is tender. Season and set aside to cool.

5. Preheat the oven and a baking tray to 200C/180C fan/gas 6. Lightly grease a pie dish, about 4cm deep x 20cm round at the base. Cut off about two thirds of the pastry and roll out on a lightly floured surface so it will line the base and up the sides of the dish. Spoon the cooled venison mixture into the pastry case. Roll out the rest of the pastry for the lid. Brush the side edges of the pastry lining the tin lightly with egg. Place the pastry lid over the filling to cover. Trim off any excess pastry, then pinch the edges together to seal and press down with the back of a fork. Brush the top of the pie with egg to glaze. Using a sharp knife, make 2 small slits in the pie lid. Bake for 40 to 45 minutes or until the pastry on top is golden.

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