Wild boar forest pie

Wild boar is a meat that a lot of people have heard of and maybe seen on a restaurant menu but few have cooked at home. To get the maximum flavour and richness from wild boar it needs to be cooked low and slow so this pie recipe is a perfect introduction to it. In keeping with autumn ingredients I have paired the boar with the earthiness of porcini as it is wild mushroom season after all. This pie can be made in advance and is a great crowd pleaser. I made the boar sauce a couple of days before I needed it which really intensified the flavour. Not only do you get a pie recipe with this but you can also use  the wild boar base as a ragu which is delicious with pasta or creamy polenta so you get two ideas for one here!

Now just a quick word about mashed potato. I know potato ricers are popular up and down the country for a super smooth mash but I prefer to use a little (read ‘lot’) of elbow grease and mash for England with a good old stick masher! Yes, it is more time and labour intensive but it is still just as smooth so pick your weapon of choice and get mashing!

pie

Ingredients- serves 4
Vegetable oil
400g wild boar- diced into large chunks
1 large white onion -chopped
2 garlic cloves- crushed
Small pack of pancetta (optional)
20g dried porcini mushrooms- soaked
1 carrot- finely chopped
2 celery sticks- finely chopped
1 tbsp tomato puree
100ml red wine
400g tinned chopped tomatoes
300ml beef stock
Fresh thyme, bay leaves and 4 juniper berries
5 Maris Piper potatoes- peeled and halved
Unsalted butter
Milk
Salt and pepper

1. Get cracking by preheating the oven to 160c/ 140 fan. Take a large casserole pan and heat a good glug of oil over a medium to high heat. Add the chunks of boar and cook to brown them off. You can do this in a couple of batches so you don’t overcrowd the pan as this does not make for beautifully golden meat. When browned, remove the boar and set aside.

2. Next up keep the meat juices in the pan and cook the garlic, onion and pancetta (if using) until the onion is softened and the pancetta is turning golden. Pop in the carrot and celery and cook for a further couple of minutes. Stir through the tomato puree and make sure it is all well combined.

3. Add the red wine and reduce by half before the stock, tomatoes and porcini go in. Pop in the herbs, juniper berries and season. Cover the pan and cook in the oven for 3 hours until the boar is tender and simply falls apart. Towards the end of cooking check the boar and the sauce should have reduced down; if it is still a bit too loose, simply remove the lid and finish off or simmer on the hob with the lid off. When the sauce is thick, remove from the heat and set aside as you make the mash.

4. Bring a large pan of salted water to a boil. Boil the potatoes until they are tender when you prick them with a knife; drain well. Now for the bit that takes tasting to get spot on! Mash the potatoes like your life depends on it and add as much butter as your heart will take so give a creamy mash. Add a glug or two of milk if you like. Keep tasting as you go (I know, such a hardship!) until you end up with a creamy, well seasoned mash.

5. When the boar has cooled slightly, tip it into a large ovenproof dish and you are ready to top it with the potato. Now here comes another choice for you: to pipe or to dollop (very technical!) that is the question? I kept it simple for myself on this occasion and spooned some of the mash on before using the back of a spoon to smooth it over the boar. Take a fork and use the tines to lightly make indents. Top with a little freshly grated parmesan if you like and bake at 200c/ 180fan for around 30 minutes until bubbling and golden.

Wild boar and porcini forest pie- time to reinvent the classic cottage pie!

 

 

 

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Roasted vegetable and feta filo pie

Who doesn’t love a good old pie from time to time?! Well this roasted vegetable and feta pie ticks all the boxes but is lighter than a pie you may devour through the winter months. Filo is light and crisp and is perfect for a light lunch or dinner. I have used a selection of vegetables with a Mediterranean vibe but you can mix and match until your heart’s content.

In order to keep the pastry crisp I have chosen to part roast the vegetables in advance so it draws out some natural moisture before popping into the pastry case. Unlike other pies this does not require precise tin lining so think of it as a free form pie that is perfect for pie making novices and well seasoned cooks alike. You will require a pie tin which is around 20cm in diameter which will feed 2 very hungry people or 4 for a lighter dinner.

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Ingredients- serves 4
1 packet of premade filo pastry
30g unsalted butter
1 tbsp basil pesto
1 aubergine
1 courgette
1 red and 1 yellow pepper
1 red onion
2 garlic cloves- kept whole
Glug of olive oil
100g feta

1. Preheat the oven to 200c/ 180 fan. Do check the cooking instructions on the packet of filo as temperatures may vary from brand to brand so adjust accordingly. Whilst this is heating, cut the vegetables into small chunks and place on a baking tray with the garlic cloves, seasoning and olive oil. Toss so they are well coated and roast for a few minutes until beginning to soften.

2. In a small pan, melt the butter over a low heat. Use a pastry brush and brush a little of the butter in the tin. Take one the first filo sheet and lay in the tin before adding more butter to this sheet. Repeat until the sheets of filo are all layered; I offset each layer so they can be gathered more easily to form a crust. If you layer the sheets like this you should end up with a star formation. The last layer should be brushed with pesto so the vegetables will sit on top.

3. Take the roasted vegetables and scatter some of the feta amongst them before placing in the lined pie tin. Gather the loose edges of the filo and you can either bring them into the centre of the tin or, as I did, fold them in to form a crust so you can see the colourful vegetables in the middle. If you do this then add a little more feta crumbled over the top before popping in the oven for 15-20 minutes (depending on the pastry cooking time on the packet) until the filo is crisp and golden. Serve with a side salad and some buttered new potatoes if you like and dig in. The pie is also great for lunch the next day if there are any leftovers but this is highly unlikely!

Roasted vegetable and feta filo pie- a taste of the Med at home this summer!