Preparation: 60 mins
Cooking: 45 mins
A Gamekeeper’s Classic
1kg coarsely minced venison, or a mixture of game
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
3–4 tbsp vegetable oil
3 medium onions, peeled and finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed
4 juniper berries, crushed
1 tsp chopped thyme leaves
1 tbsp plain flour
1 tbsp tomato purée
1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
1 litre good beef stock
For the mash topping
2–3 large potatoes (such as Desiree),
peeled and quartered
200g parsnips, peeled, cored and roughly chopped
A few good knobs of butter
Splash of milk (optional)
This is a gamey version of a Shepherd’s pie, with parsnip added to the mash topping to give it a savoury and sweet flavour. You can just use the meat from the shoulder or tougher haunch cuts of venison, or a mixture of hare and venison with some rabbit thrown in.
Season the minced venison or other game with salt and pepper. Heat 1–2 tbsp oil in a heavy-based frying pan until it is almost smoking, then brown the meat in small batches for a few minutes, turning it with a wooden spoon. Drain in a colander to remove all the fat.
Heat 2 tbsp oil in a heavy-based saucepan and gently fry the onions with the garlic, juniper and chopped thyme until very soft. Add the meat, dust it with flour and add the tomato purée. Cook for a few minutes, stirring constantly.
Add the Worcestershire sauce, then slowly stir in the cider and beef stock. Bring to a simmer and cook gently for about 1 hour until the liquid has thickened. Check the seasoning and set aside to cool.
Preheat the oven to 200°C/Gas 6.
Meanwhile, for the mash, cook the potatoes and parsnips in boiling salted water for about 10–12 minutes until soft. Drain in a colander, then return to the pan on a low heat for a minute or so to evaporate any excess water. Mash the potatoes and parsnips together smoothly with a potato masher, adding the butter and a little milk if necessary. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
Spoon the meat mixture into a large pie dish or individual dishes and spoon the mash evenly on top. Rough up the surface with a fork and bake for 35–40 minutes until the topping is golden.