2kg Venison leg, shoulder, or stew meat boned, and cut into large dice
1 bottle of red wine
400g shallots, peeled and sliced thin
200g celery, finely chopped
3 cloves of garlic, peeled
2 bay leaves
4 sprigs of fresh thyme
1 litre of game broth
Puff pastry (make your own, but it's much easier to buy some in: you need enough to cover your pot with an approximately 6mm thick lid, which will give you a nice risen crust).
1 free range egg, beaten
Cracked black pepper and sea salt
1. Heat a little butter and olive oil in a non-stick fry pan, then sear the venison in small batches until brown on all sides - don't overcrowd the pan - then transfer to a colander with a bowl sitting underneath to collect excess juices for use later
2. In a large saucepan, saute the shallots, celery and garlic until soft and lightly caramelized, add the wine and reduce by half. Add the stock and the reserved venison juices. Bring to a boil and skim off any oil that rises to the surface. Lower the heat and add the bay leaf, thyme, and venison, and simmer for two to four hours, until tender - the cooking time will vary.
3. The venison should be very tender, but not quite falling apart, as the stew will look much nicer if all the pieces of meat maintain their shape. Set aside to cool, then transfer to a plastic container and refrigerate until needed.
4. When you're ready to cook the pie, use the pie pot as a template for cutting out lids from the puff pastry, then place the stew in the pot. On the underside of the pastry lids paint a thin circle of beaten egg around the perimeter, then invert the lid on to the filled pots. - the egg wash will enable the pastry to stick to the dish. Lightly press the pastry down into place, and now is your time to get creative! Turn your pie into a football; remember to tack all your details on with a little egg wash to secure it to the top of the pie.
5. Finally, go over the entire top with your brush of egg wash, taking care that it does not run down the sides of the pastry because this will prevent the pastry from rising evenly, then refrigerate the pies until needed.
6. To cook the pie, remove the shelves from your oven apart for the bottom one. If you don't do this, the puff pastry will very likely hit the shelves above as it rises. Heat the oven to 350 degrees and bake the pies for 30 minutes, or until the pastry lids are golden brown (if it browns too quickly, place a piece of tinfoil over the top).
Enjoy the pie, and the game!