Old-fashioned Raised Game Pie
This recipe is not quite as difficult as it might seem from the daunting lists below.
Once you have assembled and sorted out all the ingredients you are well on your way. It can be made a day or two before you need to serve it, and it's excellent for a cold buffet, served in slices with Cranberry and Onion Confit.
This recipe is taken from Delia Smith’s Christmas. Serves 12
Stage one starts off the day before you make the pie itself.
First trim all the game meat from the bones and cut it into ¼-½ inch (5 mm-1 cm) cubes, reserving all the bones and scraps for the stock. Any really scrappy pieces can be saved for mincing together with the pork the next day, and any sinewy bits can go in the stock. Place the cubed meat in a bowl, pour in the port and brandy, sprinkle with the thyme, salt and pepper, then stir well, cover and leave in a cool place to marinate overnight.
Next make the stock: place the game bones (plus bits) in a deep saucepan with enough cold water to cover. Add the spices and herbs for the jellied stock, together with the carrot and onion stuck with cloves (but don't add any salt). Bring to the boil and simmer gently for about 2 hours – you will need to skim the surface of the stock during the initial stages of the cooking. After that strain the stock into a fresh saucepan, discard all the debris and boil rapidly until it has reduced to about 1 pint (570 ml) and has a good flavour. Taste and season with salt and lemon juice as required, then whisk in the gelatine. Cover the mixture and chill overnight.
Stage two takes place the following day. Make sure the jellied stock has set and skim the surface thoroughly. Now butter your cake tin and pre-heat the oven to gas mark 2, 300°F (150°C). Next, finely mince together the pork fat, lean pork and any game scraps from the day before. Add the spices, garlic, parsley and a seasoning of salt and pepper: mix this thoroughly, then divide the mixture into four. Shape each quarter into a flat round slightly smaller than the diameter of the cake tin (wet your hands for this job to make it easier).
Now for the pastry: prepare the hot-water crust by sifting all the dry ingredients together in a bowl. Place the lard and 8 fl oz (250 ml) water in a saucepan and heat until the lard has melted and the water is boiling. Then immediately pour the liquid into the dry ingredients and stir with a spoon to form a dough. Turn the dough out on to a working surface and knead very lightly and briefly.
Now weigh 1 lb 5 oz (600 g) of the dough, reserving the rest for the 'lid', put it in a loosely folded plastic bag and let it cool a little before rolling it out to a round similar in diameter to that of the cake tin. Place the round of dough in the tin, then gradually work it from the centre of the base and up the sides of the tin. Work your way round the tin, using your curled-up fingers as a pad, gently squeezing the dough up the side and just over the rim. Make sure the pastry is as even as possible with no obvious cracks or thin places.
Next line the inside of the pastry mould with the bacon rashers, cutting them level with the top of the tin. Place a round of the pork mixture in the base and pat it out to fit the interior. Now cover that with a third of the marinated game and its juices. Repeat this layering twice more and finish off with a pork mixture layer. Roll out the rest of the dough to a round suitable for a lid, glaze the inside of the dough with egg and press into position on top of the pie. Squeeze the edges together and trim down with scissors to give an edge of about ½ inch (1 cm) standing up proud. Next turn the edge firmly over inwards, pressing it down with the prongs of a fork. Make a steam hole in the top, then re-roll the pastry trimmings and cut out diamond-shaped leaves to decorate the lid.
Now lay a sheet of foil over the top and bake for 2½ hours, then remove from the oven. Leave the pie for 30-45 minutes to firm up, then turn up the oven temperature to gas mark 5, 375°F (190°C). Carefully remove the pie from the tin and brush the pastry all over with egg. If the sides show any sign of bulging, encircle the pie with a band of silicone paper (parchment) and tie with string. Return the pie to the oven and as the pastry continues baking it will firm up (if you used the paper, you will gradually be able to peel it away, but add a litle more egg to the unglazed parts) and all the pastry will brown - it will take approximately 30 minutes. As the top will brown before the sides, it will need to be protected with foil while th sides finish browning.
When the pie is a glowing golden colour remove from the oven, leave to cool, then cover and chill. Meanwhile have the jellied stock warmed slightly (by sitting it in a bowl of hot water), then cool it to the syrupy stage and pour it into the pie very gradually via the steam hole (as much as it will take). Chill again to give the jelly a chance to set and then - believe it or not - it's ready to serve.