Tony Borthwick

Venison Pie with Thyme and Cassis

Tony Borthwick is a self-taught chef from Yorkshire who opened his own restaurant, The Plumed Horse, in Crossmichael in the Borders in 1999, after many years working his way up the restaurant ladder in London and Glasgow. Previously employed by the Yorkshire Water Authority, Tony decided to follow his passion for cooking after a serious accident prompted him to change his career.

Tony was awarded a Michelin star in 2001, and since then has many acclaims to his name, including being the 2002 Scottish Newcomer of the Year in the Good Food Guide, and being Scottish Chef of the Year in 2005.

In 2006 he relocated his award-winning restaurant to Henderson Street in Edinburgh’s Leith. The restaurant (sadly now closed) was, in its heyday, awarded a Michelin Star and 3 AA Rosettes.


500 g Osso Bucco of Venison (you can also use Haunch, Shoulder or other cheaper cuts. I prefer to use Roe Deer, but you can get Red easier)
300 g Shortcrust Pastry
120 g Shallots, chopped
100 g Celeriac, diced
100 g Carrot, diced
25 g Garlic
2 Fresh Bay Leaves
1 Large Sprig Thyme
10 Juniper Berries, bruised
500 ml Venison Stock, made from the bones in the conventional way
200 ml Red Wine, preferably something robust, such as a Bordeaux
50 ml Crème de Cassis


Trim the meat of all sinew and fat. Seal in a heavy pan until browned well, remove from the pan and reserve in a bowl.
Brown the vegetables in the same pan, add the Bay,Thyme and Juniper. Add the red wine to deglaze the pan.
Put the meat and the vegetables with the wine and the stock into a large casserole dish. Simmer gently until scum rises to the top. Skim it off with a spoon. Keep on skimming until the mixture will release no more scum.
Transfer to the oven and cook at a medium heat for two hours, or until the meat is tender.
Remove the meat from the liquid and put it into a container – do not allow it to dry out! Pass the liquid through a fine sieve and discard the herbs and vegetables. Reduce by two thirds, or until it starts to take on a syrupy consistency.
Add the Cassis, adjust the seasoning with salt & freshly ground white pepper, bring back to the boil and pour back over the meat.
Roll out the pastry, cut four lids to fit four individual pie moulds. Line pie moulds with the remaining Pastry, allowing some to hang over the sides. Paint the inside with a beaten egg and place in the oven for five minutes. This will seal it and stop the meat and sauce making the pastry soggy.
Remove the pastry cases and allow to cool. Fill with the meat, and a little of the sauce, and a few thyme leaves. Stick the pie lids on with the beaten egg, leaving a hole in the centre of each one to allow steam to escape and to fill with sauce when cooked.
Brush the top of the lids with the egg, put into a medium oven for 20 minutes, or until the pastry is cooked. Remove from the moulds, paint the whole pastry case with egg and return to the oven. This will make the pastry a nice golden colour. Remove from the oven and put onto warm plates.
Fill the pies with the remainder of the sauce from a jug, serve with seasonal root vegetables.

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