Bake the 5th of the challenge!
I am slightly irked for a number of reasons. Firstly, the recipe. Secondly, that I seem to have missed out on the pastry making gene, or at least missed out on the gene that would make me more competent at pastry. Thirdly, my photography; in my defence I was away, the kitchen had bad lighting and I had possibly had lots of wine when taking the photos.
So a game pie with a rough (or ruff) puff pastry topping. To be utterly fair to the recipe I rarely make pastry; Just Rol does me just fine most of the time. I have probably made a ruff puff pastry twice since leaving school. I followed the recipe exactly, and chilled for the requisite times between each rolling and it still shrunk back from the edge of the pie dish. I made the leftovers into cheese straws the next day and it was far better, much puffier with a far better texture, the moral it seems, is to leave in the fridge for 24 hours before using. If anyone can enlighten me as to what benefit the addition of lemon juice brings to rough puff pastry I would be very interested to know. Some recipes use it, many do not.
I am sure that pastry competence is simply a matter of practice. I suspect it works along similar lines to the basic premise of the Zulu Principle, if I make rough puff pastry twice I have probably know more about it than half of the population, 10 times and I know more about it than the vast majority of people and if I make it 50 times then I am probably an expert. (The fascinating book Bounce argues that if you spend 10,000 hours doing something in a meaningful way you will become world class at it. I highly recommend reading Bounce, it has completely changed my outlook on success or otherwise).
Back to the recipe.
The list of ingredients to the marinade is long. I feel a note saying that it will not matter too much if you leave some out would have been helpful. I was staying with my cousin in Leeds and her local supermarket (Asda) had no juniper berries. The filling was very good without them, but I think some people might not know that they will enhance flavour, but are not vital.
The recipe says to marinade the game for 24 hours, which is fine and dandy. Then, to cook the game you remove it from the marinade and then add it to some bacon that has been fried in butter and had some flour added to it, stirring and cooking for a minute before adding the strained marinade (basically wine) and simmering. Here an alarm bell rang; not only for me, but with my cousin’s boyfriend, Jeff. I wanted to strain the meat, flour it, fry if off a few cubes at a time and then gentley cook in a casserole in the oven for a couple of hours. Not simmer in a pan on the hob having not fried it off. I followed the recipe, and had the thicken the filling with a fair amount of cornflour*.
Well the pie was good, but could have been so much better had I followed my instincts rather than the recipe. I may not (yet) be an expert at producing peerfect pastry (although I am confident my skills will improve with more practice) but I like to think that I know how to make a good casserole. The gravy of the filling was delicious, the meat not so good and the texture was not meltingly tender.
An upsidedown egg cup did excellent service as a pie raiser! Although I would like a traditional blackbird raiser, or something similar.
* To thicken using cornflour, spoon some cornflour into a cup or ramekin, add a few spoons of gravy, mix well then return to the main dish. Never add the cornflour to the main dish, it is nigh on impossible to get rid of the lumps.