Brexit Game Pie – “Cometh the Hour”

“Cometh the Hour, Cometh the Man” – what a laugh.

My British friends, for I have a few, are more against than in favour of Brexit. I also hold an anti Brexit viewpoint. Looking on from the other side of the Irish sea I am aghast at the collapse of the already low standards held by so many UK politicians who seem to be scrabbling for party or personal power, caught up in a perfect storm of self interest. Apart, that is, from the leader of the opposition who takes up position sitting on his hands. Pathetic stuff. Perhaps the olde English phrase of “Opportunity makes the man”, from the original  “Opportunity Makes the Thief” is more appropriate to the sad behaviour we see. I am also astounded at seeing so many of my generation steal the opportunity that they squandered from the next generation. History will judge and not kindly.

Anyway, this is about a recipe for a Game Pie, not self serving politicians. Hopefully, when the food runs out, some of them may open up their country estates to allow the British underclass to hunt the wild game needed to make this delicious pie. It’s that or queue outside the food banks and empty supermarkets.

Recently, a good friend was out hunting here in Ireland and left me in a brace of both mallard and pheasant. I hung them in the garden shed for a few days before doing the dressing (dismembering and slicing up). Here are a couple of pictures, to prove that I do this stuff myself.

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If you want to know about dressing pheasant, there is a guide here. Apart from the breasts and legs, there is not a lot of meat on the duck. It seems kind of wasteful to just take the breasts, as many do. I prefer to put in the work and get everything useable for the pie. Be warned, unlike most recipes and certainly unlike a Brexit negotiation, this pie preparation takes a couple of days to complete. So plan ahead (also unlike a Brexit negotiation, it seems).

Ingredients for the filling

  • 500 grammes of pheasant meat
  • 500 grammes of wild mallard meat
  • 800 grammes of venison meat
  • 200 grammes of bacon lardons
  • 200 grammes of Lardo or bacon fat if you have left the EU and can’t get it.
  • 4 leeks (The national symbol of Wales but grown in other EU countries too.)
  • 2 teaspoons of tomato paste
  • 4 cloves of garlic
  • 2 teaspoons of sea salt
  • 2 teaspoons of juniper berries
  • 1 teaspoon of black peppercorns
  • 1 teaspoon of allspice
  • 1 teaspoon of mace

For the pie jelly

  • Left over game carcass to make stock
  • A couple of bay leafs and a few black peppercorns
  • Gelatine (or lots of time to reduce stock)*

For the pastry

  • 110 grammes of lard
  • 230 ml of water
  • 580 grammes of plain flour
  • An egg to paint on the top during cooking
  • You will need to have an 8″ springform baking mould too.

* I used a highly concentrated chicken stock as the gelling agent for my pie. It worked well.

Chop all the meat ingredients into bite sized pieces.

The fat on wild birds is a lovely yellow colour. Don’t waste it.

Chop and fry the leeks until they are very soft and separated. Fry the lardons in the same pan to release their fat. Add the venison and brown it on all sides.

The venison has a great flavour but little fat.

Peel the garlic and put it, the junipers, salt, pepper, tomato, mace and allspice in a mortar. Beat it with the pestle (pretend you are trying to bash out an agreement) until you have a smoothish paste.

This is a highly pungent mixture. Blend it well.

Slice the lardo (fat) into small pieces. Add all the filling ingredients (not the gelatine or stock bones) to a big bowl. and mix well.

Make up the pie pastry, using the hot water method. It is very simple and only requires you to be quick (unlike a Brexit negotiation) and to not mind getting your fingers burned (just like a Brexit negotiation). There is a full set of instructions on this Pork Pie post from earlier.

Pack that pie good and full. Waste nothing.

Do your best to make the pie look nice by trimming. Cut a hole in the centre to allow steam out and to allow the gelling mixture in.

Practice makes perfect. I need to practice a bit more.

Place the pie in a 200º C (400º F) oven for 30 minutes. Turn the heat to 170ºC (350ºF) for another 30 minutes. Remove the pie from the oven and paint on a nice egg wash. Return it to the oven for another hour.

The egg wash adds a nice reflective sheen to the pie. There will be plenty of time to reflect after Brexit.

Meanwhile, add the stock bones to a saucepan along with a quarter litre of water, a bay leaf, some black peppercorns and bring to a gentle simmer.

Here’s where I get the full value out of all those extraneous duck bits.

Cover and let it boil under for a couple of hours. Take the lid off and reduce to about 100ml. Turn it off and let it cool. Strain and add the gelatine (or highly concentrated stock as I did). This gave me a very concentrated jelly when the heat recedes. You will have to follow pack instructions on the gelatine to ensure you get a good jelly-like consistency when cool.

Remove the pie from the oven and let it cool overnight. Remove the springform carefully. Gently warm the jelly to make it just viscous. Pour it into the pie, a little at a time, giving it every chance to cool down and stick (unlike the British political classes when it comes to doing a Brexit deal).

Like any good negotiation, gently does it.

Serve the pie with a simple salad, chutney and some boiled small potatoes. Once Brexit goes through, it will all be small potatoes anyway.

This really is an excellent game pie. Cometh the hour, cometh the pie, at least.

The chutney we enjoyed with this pie was made by my brother David. He has a real skill with it and, who knows, in a post Brexit Ireland, it may be of some extra value as we wait patiently for supplies from the continent. Cometh the hour, cometh the food delivery, as it doesn’t appear there is leader of any merit in Brexit Britain.

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Latest comments
  • In the interests of true Europhilia, will we give the metric diameter (20cm) of the springform mould…? This looks totally fabulous, and one day I will use it to construct Roo Pie. One day. Currently life is too short to spend a couple of days on a pie that the Husband will demolish in seconds. Yes, all of it.

      • He is a pie fiend…. But I will forbid the use of tomato sauce with it

  • That is just a beautiful sight! I’m referring to the pie, not the dead birds… This is truly magnificent.

  • I laughed, but rather hollowly. Totally agree re Brexit, I can barely bring myself to open a newspaper these days. Your pie, on the other hand, is a magnificent creation. Will you please send food parcels when the produce lorries are backing up on the wrong side of the Channel? Although I suppose the package will get held up at Customs and postman will have run out of petrol or, if he has any sense, will have emigrated to Ireland.

  • This is a true story: I’m having a coffee in a beachside café here in SPAIN over the Christmas. Sitting opposite are two thirtysomething male Brits. One calls the (Spanish) waiter and says ‘deux petites bieres s’il vous plait’. Then he turns to his pal and says ‘another week here and I reckon I would be fluent’. After 40 years in the EU the Brits still don’t know that Spanish is spoken in Spain and French is spoken in France. With this level of ignorance about Europe it is no wonder that they have got themselves into the Brexit mess of their own making and can’t find a way out. If it wasn’t so serious it would be pathetic. Great recipe Conor but beyond my skill level.

  • Hi Conor, it is a bit weird to be reading about a game pie under a palm tree sipping from a coconut. But it sure does look delicious and I really like your methods. Especially using the carcasses to make stock for the jelly. Loved the reference to allowing the plebs to hunt on the lords’ grounds after a hard Brexit. Those plebs did vote for it too, though.

  • Even from the distant Colonies we find it hard to believe that the idiocy of Brexit will really come to pass . . . that those who supposedly lead will not be able to salvage and stop an originally underwhelming decision made rather emotionally for wrong reasons. One can foresee some of the results – the rest will surely become self-evident as weeks and months pass. The pie looks magnificent from afar: even tho’ Down Under has not ‘left’ anything most ingredients simply are for us to envy and not to have . . . enjoy !!!

  • Impressive and I’m sure delicious!

  • Could you pls stop commenting with your recipe….

  • I love your Brexit pie and the sentiments. I would eat it all too!

  • What a pie! What idiocy. Though I loved your ingredient commentary. Might as well laugh, I suppose. (That applies to both ends of the pond!)

  • Stupendous, Conor – both the pie and the metaphors. Perhaps, like the pie, just when you think your goose is cooked and the game is up, you find out there’s a whole other mix of essential ingredients yet to go in.. And before you say it, YES I KNOW THERE IS NO GOOSE IN THIS PIE. This is why I’m not a politician.

  • Conor, this is an incredible cook. I’m impressed not only in your grand wisdom regarding Brexit, but with this fantastic looking Game Pie. As a fellow EU resident I can only hope that Britain comes to their senses, but then???

  • I am truly captivated by the photography in this post. You make picking game look luxurious, Conor. Well done!!

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