Wednesday, April 13, 2011
This probably never happens to you. One morning, I was causally reading the food section at The Guardian, and my eyes settled on Tim Hayward's beautiful Gala Pie. A normal person would admire it, and move on-but I couldn't take my eyes off it, which I suppose says something as I've been a vegetarian since 1983. I'm a vegetarian, but Mr. Eat The Blog is not. Mr. Eat The Blog's boss generously filled our freezer with dead deer which I've been turning into shredded filling for burritos and tamales. I think you know where this is going.
Would it work? Gala pie is essentially a pork pie with some hard boiled eggs for that extra-special touch that says, "this is special." Indeed it is. Now, imagine how special it would be with venison.
Venison is very lean, so if you succumb to the temptation of a kilo of meat baked into a crust made of rendered beef fat and a bit of flour-you'll need more fat. Quite a bit, actually. I swear Mr. Eat The Blog must have made some sort of goo-goo-eyes at the butcher because when I unwrapped the brown paper parcel, I was met with five pounds of the most beautiful beef fat I've ever set eyes on. Pure, white, artery-clogging fat. Not a grey rubbery bit among the batch.
About the grinding-I didn't bother. My hand grinder is a pain to set-up, and with the chaos that has been my life of late, I was just too tired to even think about dealing with fiddly parts, clamps and so-on. I did the therapeutic thing...I got out my cleaver. My great-big-heavy-expensive cleaver I ordinarily reserve for chopping up winter squashes and such. I wrecked a cutting-board in the process, but it worked. You may prefer a finer texture, in which case you can go ahead and grind it-the recipe suggested leaving some larger pieces, so I think we found a good middle ground. Of course, if you have a food processor this would be a simple enough task.
The aspic was a bit of a problem as I didn't have any piggy-parts to cook down. Instead, I cheated using stock, wine, spices and powdered gelatine. It worked fine.
I really had my doubts as I watched it literally oozing fat in the oven.
"No, that means it will be delicious", Mr. ETB assured me.
It unmoulded easily without breaking, so that gave me a bit of confidence. My attempt at cutting the first slice went poorly as I didn't let it warm up enough out of the fridge. It cuts much better when it has warmed to room temperature. While a pork pie may be more tender, Mr. ETB reports that it isn't really tough, which venison can sometimes be. I did use bacon-but it was turkey bacon for keeping the colour attractive. I have nitrates on hand from sausage making, but the turkey bacon was inexpensive enough (probably because no one in their right mind would want to eat it) and worked well.
I kept the proportions pretty close to the original recipe, though I added a considerable amount of beef fat. The pastry gave me a bit of confusion as the ingredient list at the top did not match up with the same proportions in the recipe later-on. I ended up using the version that went for more fat...in hindsight, I should have had more water ready-it was a bit dry to work with. Still, it made a manageable crust, though I probably re-injured that herniated disk in my neck rolling that bastard out.
Anyway, Mr. ETB is taking the rest to work tomorrow, and I can set my thoughts on what to do with the rest of the frozen Bambi.