Hunting season is here. Time for comfort food recipes to commence!
Simple classics can be perfect comforting dishes: gravies, sauces, braised meats, savory wild game, vegetables stored up from the garden, creamy potatoes, flaky buttery crusts. Combine a few of those warm and lusty ingredients, crack an Ale or Porter, and you have the perfect gut-warming, soul-satisfying dish to fend off cold-weather “hangries.”
One powerful combination is a rich and steamy, savory meat pie. The dish isn’t as common in the U.S., but the Brits have perfected meat pie. On a recent trip to the U.K., I happened upon Borough Market in London. As London’s oldest heritage food market, it has been serving the population with artisanal food products for 1,000 years. (Which is about as long as meat pie has been a national mainstay.) While strolling through the market, I found several Huntsman pie combinations that used wild boar, venison, grouse, rabbit, and pheasant.
Most of the English pies are made with a hot water crust. Others use a short crust, or what we call puff pastry. Once filled and baked, the mini pies are cooled and can be served cold making them easy to pack for hunting trips to the moors and glens. These little rapturous pockets with their meaty morsels can be complicated to prepare—or they can be adapted so they’re ridiculously easy.
Earlier this week I put together four simple ingredients that yielded a robust, steamy pie with a flaky tender crust that left the family craving more. This will not win any James Beard Awards, but then some of the most popular movies never win an Oscar, either. I’m totally okay with that.
¾ lb of ground game meat (I used wild boar)
1 can of Veg-All
1 can cream of mushroom soup
1 package of store bought puffed pastry dough. (NOT phyllo–they are not the same thing.)
1. Thaw puff pastry per the directions on the box.
2. Combine drained vegetable mix, browned meat, and cream of mushroom soup and stir until well coated. If you’re using wild turkey, cream of chicken is a good match. If you’re opposed to mushrooms, you could always use cream of celery. Experiment and see what you prefer.
3. When pastry dough is workable, cut dough to line bottom and sides of four buttered ramekins leaving some hanging over the edge. This is not exacting, and puff pastry is forgiving. It’ll taste good no matter what it looks like.
4. Fill ramekins with pie mixture.
5. Cover each individual pie with a ‘lid’ of pastry dough. Pinch to seal. Brush with lightly beaten egg wash if desired to shine-up the top crust.
6. Place on a cookie sheet and bake at 375 until golden and bubbling. (About 45 minutes)
Note: My ramekins are made by Le Creuset and hold 8 ounces each. If you don’t have ramekins, you could use 4-8 ounce coffee cups that had larger openings. If I had chuck wagon-style tin cups, or enameled cups, I could have used those, too.