By Jonathan Hatchman, Food Editor, @TLE_Food
National Pie Day is coming, falling on January 23rd this year. And although somewhat less popular than a classic Shepherd’s or Cottage Pie, Stalker’s Pie is ideal for the winter months, using slowly braised venison that’s perfect for this time of year, combined with garlic, carrots and onions in a tomato and red wine sauce, then topped with mashed potatoes. But although venison is becoming increasingly popular, Stalker’s Pie is still rare to find. One restaurant offering the dish, however, is The Plowden Arms in Henley on Thames, a stunning country pub with a menu filled to the brim with classic, hearty comfort food. The pub has also provided a recipe for their take on the dish, best served with a slice of crusty bread and seasonal vegetables – delicious.
For the pie mix
Venison mince, 500g
Venison stock, 450ml, (use chicken or beef if trouble sourcing)
Onion, 1, diced
Celery, 1 stick, diced
Garlic, 2 cloves
Thyme, 2 Sprigs, leaves picked down and roughly chopped
Chestnuts, 250g, (cooked – vac packed or tinned), roughly chopped
Button mushrooms, 125g
Tomato puree, 1tbsp
Red wine, 250ml
Redcurrant jelly, 1tsp
Salt and Pepper
For the topping
Potatoes, 800g, (a high starch potato like Desiree will make the best mash)
Double cream, 50ml
Salt and Pepper
Heat a large heavy based pan, add oil and then fry the onion, celery, garlic and thyme for 3-4 minutes, transfer out of the pan to a plate, now turn the heat to full power add a splash more oil and brown off the venison mince.
Once the meat has good colouration all over add the tomato puree and tip back in the onion, celery etc. Cook for 2 minutes then add the butter, mushrooms and flour, mix well before adding the wine.
Reduce by two thirds then add the stock, chestnuts and redcurrant jelly, cook on a low heat, stirring often until the mix is thick and rich in flavour, about 45 minutes. Season to taste and put into a dish.
For the mash potato topping; peel, chop and boil the potatoes in salted water until soft, drain well before mashing, add the butter and cream and beat in until the mash is creamy and rich. Then, spoon (or pipe using a star shaped nozzle) the mash onto the mince, this is easier if the mince is cold, place into a hot oven on 220c until golden brown on top.
The Plowden Arms can be found at Shiplake Cross, Henley on Thames, Oxfordshire, RG9 4BX.