This time of year is perfect for gathering sweet chestnuts. As the leaves fall so do the chestnuts and it will be a race between you and the squirrels, so act fast! Each year varies but you should find them anytime from October onwards. Our Shopping Editor, Alice, gathered these beauties whilst in Devon recently and decided to make our deliciously comforting Venison, Guinness and Chestnut Pie, as seen in our November’s seasonal food feature.
Foraging for chestnuts
Before you start it’s best to roast them. Make a small nick in the bottom of the nut. It will open up as they are cooking and make them much easier to open and peel. Then follow the recipe below. Enjoy!
VENISON, GUINNESS & CHESTNUT PIE Serves 6
Ask for stewing venison diced from the cheaper cuts such as the leg, shoulder or neck. Cooked slowly, the flavour is just as delicious as that of the more expensive cuts.
1.2kg stewing or pie venison, diced
3 tbsps plain flour
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
65g unsalted butter
225g smoked bacon, diced
1 leek, chopped
3 carrots, sliced
4 garlic cloves, crushed
Several sprigs of thyme
500ml bottle Guinness
300ml beef or game stock
250g mushrooms, sliced
200g cooked chestnuts
500g pack shortcrust pastry
1 beaten egg, to glaze
Sea salt, to sprinkle
1 Toss the venison in the flour and seasoning. Melt 50g of the butter in a frying pan and fry the meat, in batches, until deeply browned. Transfer to a large saucepan. Add the bacon, leek and carrots to the frying pan and fry gently for 5 minutes. Tip into the saucepan with the garlic and thyme.
2 Add the Guinness and stock to the frying pan and bring to the boil, scraping up the meat residue in the pan. Season lightly and pour over the meat. Cover with a lid and cook very gently for 1 ¼ to 1 ½ hours until tender.
3 While cooking, heat the remaining butter in a clean frying pan and lightly fry the mushrooms. Once the meat is tender, stir in the mushrooms and chestnuts and check the seasoning. Leave to cool.
4 Preheat the oven to 190ºC/375ºF/Gas 5. Pour the filling into a pie dish that holds about 1.5 litres. If there’s too much liquid, reserve for heating through and serving in a gravy jug. Cover the pie with the pastry, using the trimmings to shape antlers to decorate the pie. Brush with beaten egg to glaze and bake for about 45 minutes until deep golden, covering with foil if the pastry starts to over-brown. Sprinkle with sea salt and serve with vegetables.
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