Food & Wine

Mon, 15 Apr, 2019Basmah Qazi

Tasty venison shepherd's pie

Tasty venison shepherd's pie

Like all good, simple fare, this pie’s deliciousness is all thanks to the sum of its parts –
a base of tasty soffritto, good-quality meat minced by hand and a light, fluffy potato topping. You could speed it up by skipping the long slow soffritto step and just sweating the onion, carrot and celery for 10 minutes or until soft and translucent. And you could also just buy pre-minced meat. The end result will still be lovely.

I am of course biased because we produce venison here on our farm, but truly this is the most wonderful of meats. Lean, full of delicate flavour and so easy to cook, please do try it whenever you get the opportunity. Here, venison brings an extra level of luxury to this simple, wonderful pie, but you could also stick with tradition and make this with minced lamb, or even minced beef (which is known as a cottage pie).

Serves: 6–8


  • 3 brown onions, diced
  • 2 carrots, peeled and diced
  • 2 celery stalks
  • 1/4 cup (60 ml) olive oil
  • 700 g (1 lb 9 oz) venison topside or rump
  • 150 g (51/2 oz) butter
  • 1 Tbsp thyme leaves
  • 400 ml (14 fl oz) beef stock
  • 1 Tbsp cornflour
  • 2 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 Tbsp tomato paste (concentrated purée)
  • 1 kg (2 lb 4 oz) floury potatoes
  • 1/4 cup (60 ml) milk


  1. First start the soffritto. Combine the onion, carrot, celery and olive oil
    in a saucepan over low heat. Cook for 2 hours, stirring every now and then, until the mixture is a thick, dark-brown paste.
  2. Meanwhile, cut the venison into small, pea-sized pieces. Doing this by hand takes about 10 minutes, but you could ask your butcher or use a food processor or mincer if you have one.
  3. Melt 20 g (3/4 oz) of the butter in a large heavy-based saucepan over medium–high heat. Add the venison and thyme and cook, stirring often, until the venison is browned all over. Whisk together the beef stock and cornflour and add to the venison with the soffritto, Worcestershire sauce and tomato paste. Stir well, bring to a simmer and cook over low heat for 40 minutes. Season to taste.
  4. While the meat is cooking, peel and cut the potatoes into small cubes. Place in a large saucepan and cover with cold water. Cook over high heat until the potato is completely tender when pierced with a fork. Drain and mash with 50 g (13/4 oz) of the butter and the milk.
  5. Preheat the oven to 180°C (350°F). Transfer the meat mixture to an ovenproof dish and top with the mashed potato (I sometimes add it in clumps, which seems to help it crunch up during baking). Dot the top with the remaining butter and bake for 45 minutes or until the potato
    is golden and the meat is bubbling. Serve with a simple green salad.

A note on the soffritto

Images and Text from A Basket by the Door by Sophie Hansen, Murdoch Books RRP $39.99.