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’m confused about the steps involving lard. You seem to indicate mixing it with the flour then later you talk about setting it aside. Please elaborate.

    1. Lucas: It’s in there. Keep in mind you use lard twice: Some in the dough, and some when you make the pies. See Step 4 for what you do with the lard that is not already in the dough.

  2. Thanks! Also, are they just baking on the cookie sheet? Or did they get put into a pie dish? Can’t wait to try it!

    1. Kristy: Normal ones, not rapid rise. Your stuff in the jar should be the normal stuff, although I don’t know the “dosage.”

  3. Hank: Made your venison garlic and bay sausage a few days ago and it’s my favorite sausage recipe of yours to date. I still have some of it around, do you think it would make a good filling for these pies? Just use the sausage meat as is, don’t add any of the above spices, except maybe the green onion? Thanks as always.

  4. My father used to rave about a deep dish venison pie that my Italian-national great grandmother made in the winter time. It may only be that deer season was in the winter time or it may have been a holiday dish. I don’t know that answer.

    Anyone have any hints about what it was and how it’s made? I would love to give it a tray. Thanks!

  5. I just wanted to let the author know that, yes, Teddywedgers is still in operation in Madison, and still churning out “pass-tees” on the Corner of State and Mifflin Streets.

    And I can understand your longing for his Cornish Pasties… I’ve been in love with them since I was but a lad of 15.

  6. Made these tonight. I doubled the recipe for my family of five, but should probably have given the kids half each. So yummy!

  7. Josh: We’re on! Lemme know when to chase the wily carp…

    Marshall: It is supposed to be like a wet patty – easier to eat by hand that way. If you want to make it more pot pie-like, reduce the volume of meat and add a little demi-glace, or boil down some stock by half and add a little cornstarch or flour to thicken it.

    Kyle: It should work fine with beef.

  8. This looks delicious – – a wonderful comfort food! I’ve just come across you site today, and I really like it; can’t wait to try some of your recipes.

  9. Hey Hank,

    We made this last night. It was good but the meat really ended up like a patty inside. We wanted to consistency to be more shepard’s pie like? Any thoughts on how to do that? I’m thinking of adding a little moisture to the meat (Although the butter should have done that).

    Loved the dough.

  10. Holy moley that looks good!

    As for carp (gefilte fish), I’ve got a good spot, and a great use for Holly’s new bow…

  11. Peter: No, I did not! Got any names and locations for me?

    Cork: You should try to recreate the empanada with venison and post it. I bet it would be good!

    Meredith: Let me know how it turns out for you when you make it!

    April: Nope, I am not familiar with those books. Will look them up – especially if they are from Scotland. My people and all that….

    Tamar: Was wondering if you’d chime in on that comment! And I’ve always wanted to make real gefilte fish from carp – I hear it’s really good when homemade. I’ve only tried the jarred stuff, and it was gawdawful.