Venison pies are a hit any day of the week, but add smoked cheese and a bottle of beer in the mix and you've got yourself something truly special. This venison pie recipe from Kaelah James, aka Kaelah's Wild Kai Kitchen, is an awesome way to use the shanks to create a delicious, hearty meal that people will talking about for ages. We've all had our fair share of mince 'n cheese pies from the local bakery, but these are the wild gourmet version. Check out the backstory and recipe below.
  • The Hunt - Image 1

The Hunt

While on a recent hunt back home in Kaikōura, we were lucky enough to nab a beautiful eating young hind that my husband Mike put a great long distance shot on.

With a heart full of gratitude for this deer, I waited patiently with my son Kymani for Mike to return with our animaI and reflected on not only how much wild game has fed and nourished our family, but how continually amazed I am at how many meals you can get when you use all parts resourcefully.

 Every single bite means so much more knowing the story behind what we're eating. After making these pies, I may be declaring that the shanks might just be my favourite cut of venison.

I cold smoked my shanks and havarti cheese on my 'Smokai' smoker prior to cooking to inject some flavour to the overall taste of the pie, but these are just as tasty without the smoke.

The Ingredients

  • 2 Venison Shanks (small/medium size or 1 Large shank)
  • Smoked Havarti cheese, sliced
  • 2 Tbsp flour to coat shanks
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 2 Tbsp tomato paste
  • 2 Cup beef stock
  • 1 Tbsp cornflour
  • 1 Bottle of beer 
  •  2 Tbsp brown sugar
  • 1 tsp Thyme, chopped
  • Puff Pastry
  • 1 Egg

The Recipe

Recipe Notes

  • I used a Porter beer in my recipe, this gave the gravy a rich and dark flavour. Stouts and Ales will give a similar taste but feel free to experiment with different kind of beers.
  • If you can't find smoked havarti cheese, normal havarti or any other smoked cheese will work here.
  • If your gravy hasn't reduced or thickened in the oven, remove the lid and place back into the oven for another 20 mins or until sauce has reduced. 
  • For a tasty twist, cold smoke your Venison shanks for a few hours prior to cooking for that signature smokey flavour.

Smoked Venison and Cheese Pie Recipe

  1. In a cast iron pot, heat olive oil over medium heat, dust venison shanks in flour and sear in the oil until browned all over. Remove and set aside.
  2. In the same pot, add another swirl of olive oil and add your onions and garlic, cook for 2-3 mins.
  3. Add tomato paste and cook for 1 min.
  4. Combine cornflour, beef stock and sugar, mix well and pour into pot.
  5. Add beer and thyme and whisk everything together making sure to scrape the bottom of the pot. Bring to a simmer until sauce has slightly thickened.
  6. Place shanks back into the pot, cover and place into an oven at 180degrees fan bake for 2 hours, or until meat is falling off the bone and the sauce has reduced and thickened.
  7. Remove shanks from the pot, shred the meat with a fork, add meat back into the gravy and let the mixture cool right down.
  8. On a floured surface, roll out your puff pastry and line greased pie dishes or large muffin tray with pastry.
  9. 3/4 fill each pie with the venison mixture, top with slices of harvarti cheese.
  10. Place pastry lid on top and seal edges well.
  11. Whisk 1 egg with 1 tbsp of water, brush egg wash over pastry and bake pies in the oven at 180 degrees until pastry is puffed and golden brown.
  12. Eat immediately

Makes approx 4 pies