Venison pithivier: the better pie

Our fondness for pies blossomed after a memorable visit to Quality Chop House, leading us to explore various types. Our discovery of the pithivier was a highlight; its stunning rosette pattern and deep brown crust were instantly captivating. Enclosed in flaky puff pastry, the pithivier can contain a range of fillings, both sweet and savoury. Of these, the galette des Rois is probably the most famous sweet rendition.

Trying to get the most out of the game season, we made a venison pithivier to finish the wintery recipe series this year. This version features a layer of gently sautéed porcini mushrooms and a sumptuous chicken liver pâté, which serve to intensify and add complexity to the venison’s taste. Complementing this dish are garnishes of tender baby turnips, crisp endives, and roasted grapes.

Venison pithivier = the better pie

Course: MainCuisine: FrenchDifficulty: Medium


Prep time




Cooking time




  • Venison
  • About 300g venison haunch (ideally in a cylindrical shape)

  • One bouquet garni, for example: sage, thyme, rosemary, parsley

  • A bottle of red wine

  • Salt, black pepper

  • Avocado oil (or any other oil with a high smoking point)

  • Vegetable layer
  • A handful of dried porcini mushroom (for the maximum flavour)

  • ½ onion, finely chopped

  • 2 large handfuls of baby spinach (about 100g)

  • 20g unsalted butter

  • Pâté
  • 60g chicken or duck pâté

  • Cabbage
  • 2-3 leaves of Savoy cabbage

  • Sides
  • 1 baby turnip, cut in quarters

  • 1 red endive

  • 1 golden beetroot, 2-3mm thin slices (use a mandolin)

  • A handful of black grapes (Sable or Vitoria)

  • 1 calçot

  • 30g unsalted butter

  • Olive oil

  • Salt, black pepper

  • Shaping the pithivier
  • 1 puff pastry

  • Egg wash: 1 egg yolk, splash of milk, pinch of salt

  • Sauce
  • 2 tbsp veal glace

  • 4 tbsp water

  • 1 tsp sherry vinegar

  • 20g unsalted butter, cold and cut in cubes

  • Xanthan gum if needed


  • Venison
  • Season the venison haunch with salt and pepper.
  • Submerge the meat in a bowl with the red wine and a bouquet garni. Cover with cling film and marinate for 12h.
  • Next day, remove the meat from the marinade.
  • Pat dry the venison and discard the marinade.
  • Sear the meat for 1min on every side at very high heat.
  • Remove it from the pan and let the meat cool.
  • Vegetable layer
  • Soak the dried mushroom in warm water for 20-30min (depending how old they are).
  • Once they are rehydrated, remove the mushrooms carefully, try not to move the water too much. Any impurities will settle down on the bottom.
  • If you have any paper filter (like for brewing coffee), pass the mushroom water through the filter. Reserve the water.
  • Chop finely the rehydrated mushrooms.
  • Heat up the same pan that you used for searing the venison.
  • Add some of the reserved mushroom water to deglaze the surface.
  • Add the butter and the onions, sauté until translucent.
  • Add the mushrooms and cook until fragrant.
  • Next, add the spinach and sauté for another 5 min until all the water has evaporated. Remove the vegetables from the pan and cool them down.
  • Pâté
  • Sear the pâté at high heat. It should be caramelised on both sides.
  • Remove from the pan and cool it down.
  • Cabbage
  • Blanch the leaves of cabbage in a salty water for 6min.
  • Dry the leaves fully using a paper towel. Place them on a flat surface and let them cool.
  • Sides
  • Preheat the oven to 180C. Place the grapes into an ovenproof dish.
  • Roast them for 10min, take them out just when you see the first juice oozing out.
  • Take a small pot, add the butter and drizzle with some olive oil.
  • Place the endive in the pot and pour in enough water to cover the endive. Season with salt.
  • Cook at low heat until tender.
  • Remove from the pot.
  • Repeat the same procedure with the turnips and the beetroot.
  • Place a pan at very high heat.
  • Drizzle some olive oil.
  • Fry the calçot just until it reaches a deep brown colour from both sides.
  • Using the same pan, sear the turnips and the endive.
  • Shaping the pithivier
  • Take a bowl with a diameter of roughly 12-14cm and the height of 10-13cm.
  • Line it up with a cling film.
  • First, line up the inside of the bowl with the cabbage leaves.
  • Spread a thin layer of the sautéed vegetables on the cabbage.
  • First place the seared pate in the middle and then the venison.
  • Fill up any gaps using the vegetables in a way that the bottom is flat.
  • Cover it tightly with a plastic wrap and place in the fridge.
  • You need to make sure that the ingredients are congealed (1-2h).
  • Cut off two circles of the puff pastry. The first circle must be 1.5cm wider than the bowl that you used to shape the pithivier.
  • The second circle should be big enough to cover the top of the pithivier (it was 4cm wider than the diameter of the bowl in our case).
  • Place the shaped filling on the top on the smaller circle.
  • Brush the 1.5cm rind of the pastry with water (that will help two sheets of the pastry stick to each other).
  • Cover the filling with the other sheet of the puff pastry. Make sure that the pastry tightly covers the filling.
  • On the top of the pithivier, make a little hole (3mm diameter). That will help the pastry retain its shape, instead of puffing up.
  • Brush the pithivier with an egg wash and place in the fridge without covering it.
  • Once the first layer is dry, brush it again and refrigerate for another 2-3h.
  • If you wish, you can score a pattern on the top of your pithivier.
  • Bake at 180C for 20min.
  • After that time, check the temperature of the meat which should reach 54C.
  • Return the pithivier to the oven if the temperature of the meat is below that.
  • Sauce
  • Take a small saucepan and add the glace, water and sherry vinegar.
  • Bring it to boil. Add the cold butter and whisk it vigorously until the sauce is emulsified.
  • If the sauce is too liquidy, add a little of Xanthan gum to get the correct viscosity.


  • Before covering the pithivier with puff pastry, you need to pre-shape the filling and refrigerate it until it has congealed.
  • Using cabbage leaves will act as a protection the pastry from soaking with the meat juices.

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