“Scotch” pies are traditionally made with mutton, but ground venison is a nice alternative provided that you do add a bit of fat to the mixture. The venison has a gaminess similar to mutton, while the wagyu fat trimmings that I ground in with the venison improved the lean game’s texture and richness. Pork trimming is even better.
I was introduced to proper meat pies during a trip to Scotland, and the “Scotch” pie is one of the country’s most popular fast foods. Served at football (soccer) games and often with a side of chips and beer, Scotch pies require no wrapping and are made to be eaten by hand. The iconic rim around the top allows for holding in gravy, mashed potatoes or baked beans, although a pie factory could do a much prettier job than I ever could with my crimping skills. Scotch pies are so popular in fact that you can even order them by mail.
I was generous with the preparation time in this Venison “Scotch” Pies Recipe. I am not a baker, so I am painfully slow at anything that has to do with making, kneading and/or rolling out dough. However, hot water crust pastry is one of the easiest, unfussy pastries I’ve ever attempted, and that’s saying something.
For the pastry, I took pointers from Keef Williamson of Keef Cooks. His northern-style pork pie recipe is absolutely wonderful, so I adapted it for my wild game version here. You can find Keef’s original recipe here: http://www.keefcooks.com/northern-style-pork-pie/
Venison 'Scotch' Pies Recipe
Yield: 12 mini venison pies
Prep time: 1 hour 30 minutes
Cook time: 50 minutes
- 1 pound ground venison (including 20 percent pork/beef fat)
- 1 teaspoon salt
- ¼ cup room temperature brown gravy (homemade or store bought)
- Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
- ¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
- 2 teaspoons finely minced fresh sage
- 1-2 tablespoons butter
Hot Water Crust Pastry:
- 200 grams (.44 pound) lard (try to find minimally processed lard)
- 1 cup water
- 500 grams (1.10 pounds) all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 egg, beaten
- 12-cavity nonstick muffin pan
- Small funnel
- Glass cup with a sharp rim, roughly the same diameter as muffin cavity
- Combine ground venison with 1 teaspoon of salt, gravy, black pepper, nutmeg and minced sage. Set aside.
Note: If you grind your venison beforehand and find that it is too wet after thawing, drain it before you combine the other ingredients. I sometimes take paper towels to soak up leaking myoglobin. Too much moisture will affect how the pies hold up.
- To make the hot water crust pastry, combine lard and water in a saucepan and simmer until the lard has completely melted. Combine flour and 1 teaspoon of salt in a large mixing bowl, and then pour in the hot lard-water mixture. Mix with a wooden spoon until the dough starts to come together, and then transfer to a floured surface and knead lightly until the dough is incorporated and smooth. Careful – it will be warm!
- Don’t overwork the dough – stop when it comes together. Wrap dough in plastic wrap and set aside for it to cool a bit – cool enough to handle but still warm to the touch.
- Preheat oven to 355 degrees Fahrenheit. Grease your muffin pan with butter.
- Cut off a little more than 1/3 of the dough and roll out onto a floured surface to about ¼ inch thick. Keep the rest of the dough covered and near a warm place while you work. (You need to keep the lard inside the dough warm so that it doesn’t harden up and become difficult to work with.)
- Cut out 12 discs with the glass – these will be your pie lids. Poke a hole into each one with the small end of a funnel for venting. Set lids aside on parchment paper (to prevent sticking) and cover with plastic wrap. Keep them near a warm place so they don’t become cold.
- Sprinkle more flour onto your work surface if necessary. Cut the remaining dough in half and roll out to ¼ inch thick. (If you’re talented enough, roll it out into a square for the most uniform pies.) Cut the dough into six equal sections and carefully line each muffin cavity. Be careful not to puncture the dough with your fingernails.
Repeat with the remaining dough so that you now have 12 lined muffin cavities. Trim excess dough, leaving about ½-inch rim on each.
- Fill pastry with venison mixture to ½ inch from the rim, gently pressing down the meat and leaving no gaps. Top each pie with a lid and crimp the edges to form an edge/barrier all around the pie. Brush beaten egg on top of each pie.
- Bake Scotch pies in a 355-degree oven for 20 minutes. Carefully remove the pies from the muffin pan and place them onto a cookie sheet with parchment paper (or nonstick cookie sheet). Brush egg all around the sides of the pies and bake for an additional 30-35 minutes until pies become golden brown. Turn the cookie sheet halfway through for even cooking.
- Place Scotch pies on cooling racks and allow to rest for 10 minutes before serving. This will also give the crust some time to harden as the fat inside it cools. Serve these venison Scotch pies by themselves or top with hot gravy, mashed potatoes, baked beans or HP sauce.