I won’t flatter myself enough to think that anyone’s noticed my lack of posting recently, but the reason for the slow-down has been pretty simple; I’m exhausted! Starting a new job is always tiring – there’s always so much to learn, and usually at breakneck speed. Thankfully the job is fantastic and I’m really enjoying it, but it’s safe to say that most evenings, I’ve been getting through the door and becoming at one with the sofa
Weekends are when I’d usually blog, but of course, with a huge city like London just waiting to be explored, we haven’t felt much like staying indoors. We’ve been checking out some of the fabulous galleries, pubs, foodie haunts and markets – and I have to say, I’m loving it. I’ve been dying to share some of our finds.
A couple of weeks back we decided to check out a real London foodie favourite; Borough Market. And boy was I glad we did.
This bustling bazaar is packed to the rafters every weekend with locals, tourists and long-lenses snapping away at the tempting tables. It’s not hard to see why; from high-quality cuts of everything from Oxtail to Ostrich, to rich, moudly cheeses strong enough to wake the dead, and from huge, perfect loaves to stacks of pots filled with every condiment, preserve and pickle you could ever wish to lay your hands on – this place has it all.
We went in empty-handed, preparing to save our money to go out for a meal that night. Needless to say, that meal never happened; we pooled our cash into splurging on a host of luxurious treats we’d otherwise never dream of buying. It was endlessly thrilling to be able to waltz over to a stall of decadent delights and walk away clutching some to take home, rather than looking back wistfully.
Favourite buys were some wonderful freshly-made harissa from a Moroccan stall with chefs on-hand cooking up tempting take-away treats, some ‘wow wow’ mustard to knock your socks off, English muffins big enough for a small child to sleep on, and a gorgeous slice of cake with quite possibly the best frosting I’ve ever tasted. We also decided to go all out red meat – not something we eat too often – and bought a mixed pack of game; rabbit, venison, and pheasant, with a view to making a gloriously gluttonous pie.
We stumbled across a fantastic pastry recipe purely by the accident of running low on plain flour; by mixing plain flour and bread flour we ended up with a wonderfully crisp, yet still light, golden crust.
Glorious Game Pie
Makes 4 hearty servings fit for a winter’s day
For the filling
- 500g mixed game
- 1 medium sweet potato
- 1 large onion
- 2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 1 tbsp corn flour
- 1 glug of red wine (optional, but highly recommended)
- 1 tbsp harissa
- 1 beef stock cube
- 225ml water
For the pastry
- 150g plain flour
- 150g strong white bread flour
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/4 tsp baking powder
- 150g unsalted butter
- 70 ml cold water
- 1 egg (to egg wash the pie)
For the filling
- Chop up the onions into medium sized chunks, and add them to a large saucepan with the olive oil. Brown the meat on a medium-high heat for around 2-3 minutes, before turning down the heat, adding the garlic and cooking for another couple of minutes.
- Mix the stock cube with 225ml water (or use fresh stock if you’re lucky enough to have it) and add it to the pan with a good glug of red wine and the table spoon of harissa.
- Continue to simmer for at least an hour and a half, preferably two hours, to ensure the meat is really tender and all of the flavours have blended beautifully. Check after an hour, and sprinkle in the corn flour if the mixture needs thickening, or add a little water if it looks dry. While it’s cooking, make your pastry.
For the pastry
- Mix together the dry ingredients in a food processor (or a bowl if doing by hand).
- Chop the butter into small pieces and whizz or rub together.
- Add the water a little at a time until the mixture comes together into a ball.
- Wrap in cling film and chill for 30 minutes before using.
- Roll out just over a third of your pastry and line your pie tin (we used a loose-bottomed 20cm cake tin). Roll out another third to make the sides of your pie, and then the final third to make your lid.
For the pie
Season your mixture well and remove from the heat. Gently spoon the mixture into the pastry case, top with the lid (remembering to pop a couple of small holes in the top), and splosh over your egg wash to give a lovely golden bake.
If you like, you can get creative and make a little pie topper, use a fork to seal the edges, or even do some fancy twists or crimping. I just happened to have a reindeer cookie cutter that seemed very apt!
Finally, bake in the oven at 180 degrees/gas mark 4 for 40 minutes, or until the pastry is golden and crisp. Serve with a red wine gravy, mash, and some tasty greens for a luxurious treat that’ll warm up even the coldest of winter days.