Venison Meat Pies

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venison meat pie recipe
Photo by Holly A. Heyser

The moment I saw these Sicilian Easter pies in Saveur magazine, I knew I had to make them. Or at least something like them. Meat pies are something of an obsession for me. My mum made chicken pot pie a few times when I was a kid, but I even loved the store-bought ones. It’s the juxtaposition of bread and stew and meat that gets me.

Still, pot pies are unwieldy, difficult to eat. Then at some point in my boyhood I discovered Jamaican meat pies, which Rasta vendors would sell on street corners in New York City. Bright yellow with curry and loaded with fatty, spicy goodness, I ate them twice as often as I ate the similarly-shaped Jewish potato knishes, which could usually be found on the next corner over. Curry meat beats potatoes.

Sorry, Jews. Jamaica won that fight.

I think I was so entranced by both these creations because of how portable they were. You could eat your lunch while walking down the street. Obviously not a new concept, but it was new to me as a young teenager in the Big City.

Then came graduate school and Wisconsin, where I became a slave to the Cornish pasty — and not just any pasty, but those from Myles Teddywedgers on the corner of State Street in Madison. I think the shop is still there.

Huge, meaty fist-fulls of bread dough and steak and stew and oh my God were they wonderful! Absolutely, positively what you need to sustain yourself during a cold Madison winter.

This recipe here is basically an Italian version of the Cornish pasty. Big, bready crust loaded with meat and herbs and fat and deliciousness. Saveur’s original recipe makes pies that are a little to large to pick up and eat, so these are a bit smaller. And yes, those are antlers on the pie. I couldn’t resist.

venison meat pie recipe
4.50 from 6 votes

Venison Meat Pies

This recipe is loosely based on a Sicilian Easter lamb pie, and if you don't have venison, lamb works fine here. This is a great recipe for all that "venison burger" you might have lying around in your freezer, and, while it does takes time to make, the pies will keep for a week in the fridge.
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Italian
Servings: 3 six-inch pies
Author: Hank Shaw
Prep Time: 1 hour 20 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour 50 minutes

Ingredients 

DOUGH

  • 1/4 cup whole wheat flour
  • 2 cups bread flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cup warm water
  • 1 yeast packet
  • 1 tablespoon lard or butter

FILLING

  • 12 ounces ground venison
  • 6 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons fresh oregano chopped
  • 2 tablespoons parsley chopped
  • 2 tablespoons green onion chopped
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • 3 tablespoons lard or butter

ALSO

  • 1 egg

Instructions 

  • Mix the flours and the salt together in a large bowl. Mix the yeast and the warm water in a cup and let hydrate for 15 minutes. Meanwhile, mix the lard into the flour with your hands until it looks like a coarse meal.
  • Pour the hydrated yeast into the flour and mix well. Knead for 5 minutes, cover in plastic wrap and let rest 1 hour. Meanwhile, mix all the filling ingredients -- except for the lard -- together in a bowl. Preheat the oven to 450°F.
  • To make the pies, roll the dough into a rough log and slice off 1/3 of it. Now cut each chunk into thirds, so you have 3 small pieces and 3 large pieces. Take out one of the large pieces and keep the rest covered with a damp cloth.
  • Roll out the dough into a 6-inch circle about 1/8-inch thick. Use a bowl or large glass to cut a perfect circle. Put some of the filling into the center of the circle, leaving a 1-inch border on all sides. Set that dough onto a baking sheet lined with parchment. Do the same thing with the other 2 larger pieces of dough. When you have all three pies set out, press 1 tablespoon of lard or butter onto the center of the filling of each pie.
  • To make the tops of the pies, roll out each smaller piece of dough to about the same thickness -- they should be smaller, about 5 inches in diameter. Lay the top on the venison filling.
  • Now take up the bottom of the larger piece of dough and attach it to the top piece of dough by pinching and crimping it over. Do this all around the pie to seal it. With a very sharp knife slice vents in the top of the pie.
  • Beat the egg with a little water and paint all the pies with it. Bake in the oven for 25 to 35 minutes, or until they are golden brown. Let the pies rest on a rack for at least 10 minutes before eating. They are good hot, cold or at room temperature.

Nutrition

Calories: 690kcal | Carbohydrates: 73g | Protein: 39g | Fat: 27g | Saturated Fat: 14g | Cholesterol: 185mg | Sodium: 2571mg | Potassium: 595mg | Fiber: 5g | Sugar: 1g | Vitamin A: 867IU | Vitamin C: 6mg | Calcium: 108mg | Iron: 6mg

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

Tried this recipe? Tag me today!Mention @huntgathercook or tag #hankshaw!

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About Hank Shaw

Hey there. Welcome to Hunter Angler Gardener Cook, the internet’s largest source of recipes and know-how for wild foods. I am a chef, author, and yes, hunter, angler, gardener, forager and cook. Follow me on Instagram and on Facebook.

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52 Comments

  1. I can’t speak for all the Jews, but I’m pretty sure I’m not the only one who doesn’t mind losing a culinary face-off to the Jamaicans. Food has never been our cultural long suit (although I have a soft spot for gefilte fish).

    Nice pie!

  2. Lovely recipe! Are you familiar with Nicola Fletcher’s venison cookbooks? If not then you need to take a look. She and her husband pioneered modern venison farming, yes, farming, in Scotland. I used to buy their meat when I lived nearby and I love her Game For All cookbook bought directly from them at a farm market years ago. She gives recipes for traditional standing meat pies measuring 8″ in diameter. Better, she tells you how to freeze them for later.

    Farmed isn’t as good as wild but wild isn’t affordable over that way.

  3. I adore those antlers…and thank you for bringing back an Italian Easter classic. Meat pies are like chicken soup: every country has its versions.

  4. Thank you for this recipe! I cook with nearly every cut of venison many ways and never thought to put ground venison in a meat pie. Will be trying soon!

  5. As my mom’s from the Andes of Ecuador, Hank, the empanada reference caught me immediately. She always made those half-moon pastries with chicken, peas, corn and carrots for the filling. This take with venison will be a fresh take on something that was in my lunch box just about every week as a kid–no matter what country we happened to be in at the time: True comfort food!

  6. Hank, did you know there are pasty producers here in Nevada County, the home of many Cousin Jacks who came from Cornwall to wrok the gold mines?

  7. Jake: I used acorn flour, but I the other flours would give you a similar color, only not quite so dark.

    And OK, now I think I need to make venison Jamaican meat patties. Anyone got a good recipe?

    Bumbling: Actually, this is from the deer I shot on Catalina Island. Spork was 2009…

  8. Seconding what Paul says – I’d be interested to see your take on an Australian meat pie.

    Love the antlers!

  9. This looks really good. Will have to try it when I get my ground venison later this week.

    Those Jamaican meat pies sound interesting. Have you ever tried the Chinese curry beef buns? They sound very similar. You can find the Chinese version at dim sum at times, but mainly in Chinese delis. Next time you’re in the Twin Cities, look me up and I’ll take you to the best place in town for them.

  10. I am making this tonight! Perfect timing. And love the antler detail, I’m totally stealing that.

  11. Yum, I’ll have to try this with ground lamb. I never would have thought of making a meat pie with a yeasted dough. In our house, the meat pies are usually Chilean-style empanadas, stuffed with “pino” (an onion-heavy meat blend), always with added olives, boiled eggs and raisins.

  12. The pie looks fantastic, what flower did you use to get that colour of dough, acorn, spelt or whole wheat?

  13. mmm…Jamaican meat patties – tough to compete with. But this recipe looks great. Interesting that it’s a yeast pastry/dough. And, the antlers are boss.

  14. dude .. you need to go to Australia .. Meat Pies are the equivalent of Hotdogs back home … every gas station, every 7-11, every sporting event has hotboxes filled with various meats, lips, and assholes stuffed into pastry.

    Actually there’s a place here in Austin called Boomerangs that makes some half decent aussie style meat pies for whenever I get homesick. Now if only I could find somewhere with some lamingtons or vanilla slice….

  15. You obviously wrote this for me, as I DO have a bunch of ground venison laying around in the freezer! After making chili, meatloaf, meatballs, a sort of shepherd’s pie with yuca, and a ragu with porcini mushrooms, I was almost starting to run out of inspiration. I think this cold weather we’re having here in MI is going to stick around long enough to make these meat pies seem like a darn good idea.