Hunter's Pie


Snow falls, and chilly winds blow. Nights are dark, and days are short. We take shelter in our cozy homes and wool sweaters. Roaring fireplaces and favorite bottles of wine warm us.

But what to eat? Bread, steaming from the oven and slathered with butter and honey? Hearty crock-pot stews, rich with root vegetables and exotic spices? Or, maybe a warm slice of pie?

Yes! Pie. Sweet or savory, it's always satisfying, yet simple. (And, who doesn't love pie for dinner?)

Chicken Pot Pie and Tomato Pie are good options, as is Venison Pie, but I was pleased to find a terrific, recipe for Hunter's Savory Apple Pie in the recipe database of Plate Magazine. I only made a few tweaks -- you can't mess it up. (Ground venison instead of veal because I had it, and for the mushrooms, a mix of maitake, portobello, oyster and shiitakes. For the cheese, I had aged, smoked cheddar from Vermont instead of Wisconsin, and my pie crust was whole wheat.) It was so easy to make, and the house smells amazing. Served with a kale salad (with dried cranberries, walnuts and a zippy dressing), a bowl of briny olives, and a bottle of red wine, it is the perfect winter meal. 

Hunter's Pie*
1 9-inch pie crust, prepared and blind-baked in 350F oven
1/2 stick sweet cream butter (1/4 cup) plus more for roasting veggies
1 lb ground veal or venison 
1/2 lb button or baby bella mushrooms, chopped
1/2 cup portabello mushrooms, chopped
1 cup shiitake mushrooms, sliced
1/2 cup chanterelle or maitake mushrooms, sliced 
1 medium onion, diced
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 shallot, minced
2 large tart apples, peeled, cored and diced
2 cups butternut squash, roasted and diced 
1/4 cup red bell pepper, roasted and thinly sliced 
12 fresh sage leaves, chopped
Kosher salt and ground black pepper, to taste
1 cup smoked VT cheddar or Wisconsin white cheddar, shredded
1/4 cup diced bacon
1-2 scallions, chopped
*Adapted from the recipe for Hunter's Savory Apple Pie,

Moderate MESS/ingredients/clean-up: Category 4

To Do:
  • Place the squash and peppers in a roasting pan and roast in 400F oven with some butter (or olive oil) and a few extra cloves of garlic until tender and staring to brown. 
  • Heat butter in a large pan and sauté venison/veal until starting to brown.
  • Add the mushrooms, onion, garlic, shallot, apples, and the roasted squash and peppers and cook until the onions are translucent.
  • Stir in the sage and season with salt/pepper to taste. 
  • Mound into pie shell and top with cheese, bacon and scallions. 
  • Bake about 30 minutes, until the cheese is golden brown and the pie is warm throughout. 
Looks like the "hunt" for the perfect dinner is over, thanks to Hunter's Pie.  Yum!

P.S. Want pie for dessert, too?
Try a fan favorite, the always delicious and impressive Apple-Pear-Cranberry Pie with Pecan Crumble  or embrace the chill with a slice of creamy, dreamy Peanut Butter Pie.