Xak’s Sabbatical baking adventures have been an absolute delight. Over the course of two weeks, I’ve eaten all my husband’s creations including incredible croissants, made tea sandwiches out of homemade sandwich bread, experienced my first fig scone with FROG jam, and indulged in thick slices of cinnamon, nutty povitica for breakfast.
Can sabbaticals last forever?
For Xak’s next Pastry Week challenge, he announced he would attempt a savory pie. I was thrilled to hear this. While I love sweet desserts, I equally adore savory pastry (maybe even more…).
I am typically in charge of the savories for our afternoon tea parties, including soups and sandwiches. There’s something about a savory bake that is so satisfying. Flaky, crusty pastry encasing flavorful meat, salted potatoes, seasoned vegetables… delicious!
In the past, we have made chicken pot pies, Cornish pasties, and empanadas for our afternoon teas at home with varying levels of success.
However, Xak being Xak meant he wasn’t going to bake anything he’s done before, nor would he do something easy. After watching the contestants struggling through Victorian week on Great British Bake Off, Xak was determined that we really needed to have raised game pie.
I have never once thought about eating or making a “raised game pie” before.
I’ve had venison once when I was 8 years old. I have no memory of the taste nor the desire to remember. Xak has never eaten venison before. Neither of us are hunters.
I started to worry about the local deer family living off the trails near our house.
Xak then clarified that we were not actually having a game pie. His goal was to make a savory meat pie encased in a hot water crust pastry.
Whew. I was relieved.
The Sabbatical version of a Raised Game Pie
There are some key differences between an actual raised game pie and Xak’s Sabbatical version:
- Nothing too “fowl” – no pheasant, pigeon, partridge, etc. The only winged item in our pie would be ground turkey from the grocery store (not from the wild).
- No lard – I don’t even know which aisle this would be in. We have Crisco vegetable shortening, so we’ll just use that.
- No fancy tin – in the Great British Bake Off episode, everyone created a very elaborately decorated pie out of a special baking mold/tin. We were just excited to use our new and simple William Sonoma springform pan, kindly gifted via our wedding registry. I foresee full size cheesecakes in our future!
In addition to the changes above, Xak intended on using pork belly, bacon, and ground turkey to replace the game along with lots of shallots, garlic, herbs and spices.
After finishing off the grocery list which also included ingredients for the next Sabbatical baking challenge, Xak and I exchanged goodbyes as he headed off to the grocery store and I headed upstairs to work.
I was excited for dinner that night.
Ingredients and Baking the Raised (Non) Game pie
At some point, Xak returned and started setting up shop downstairs to prepare our dinner. Since I was busy on calls, he had to take over photographer duties again. I am only his part time photographer after all.
When I came down for some coffee, the pie was already in the oven, and Xak lamented over the fact that our local grocery store butcher did NOT have pork belly available. Since it was already late in the day, we would just make do with what we had instead of going on a wild goose (pig?) chase to find some pork belly.
He also assured me that dinner would be ready early as we planned and that we could start working on his next Sabbatical challenge immediately after dinner. We were planning a casual afternoon tea for the weekend and both the meat pie and the next challenge were essential parts of the meal.
I went back up to continue my workday, wondering what side dishes we would have to accompany our raised non-game pie. What vegetables did people eat back in those times? If our grocery store didn’t even stock pork belly, would they even have any authentic Victorian vegetables? 😒
The Early Dinner Time
Xak and I like to eat dinner as early as possible. It may sound ridiculous to eat dinner at 4:30, but trust me, it saves you money on a steak at Texas Roadhouse. I am 100% the target market for Early Bird Specials at restaurants.
For tonight’s dinner however, there would be no early bird (pig?) special. As I came down after my afternoon meetings, Xak was standing staring at the oven with no pie in sight.
“I have to turn down the oven temperature,” he continued.
Not a problem, except whatever was in that oven smelled delectable and the scent was floating upstairs. If I closed the door while working, I’m sure I could focus. While we typically like to eat early, there are times where we’ll eat at the same time as normal people.
The Later Dinner Time
When 6:30 arrived, I headed back downstairs. This time as I exited, the delectable fragrant smell was much stronger than before and I saw that the raised (non) game pie had emerged out of the oven and was sitting on a wire rack on the counter emitting the delicious and inviting scent. Hooray! However, Xak stopped my celebration short.
“Why can’t we eat it now?” I asked, painfully. Since we were planning on our normal early dinner time, I hadn’t eaten much in preparation.
“It has to cool,” Xak responded dejectedly. He immediately picked up a baking sheet and frantically waved at the pie to cool it down. The sight temporarily eased my hunger pangs and I headed to our pantry to search for our emergency stash of Nature Valley Oat & Honey granola bars to tide me over for a bit longer.
The Actual Dinner Time
After what seemed like hours (ok in reality, it really was about an hour), it was finally devouring time!
As I took a bite, I felt like I transported back to medieval times (the era, not the dinner theater venue). Although we were forced to make necessary ingredient substitutions, I thought the raised (non) game pie was very hearty, filling, and extremely flavorful. Xak too was pleased with his creation and the success of his first attempt at hot water crust pastry.
As we savored the remainder of our pie slices, I realized that we would have to get moving ASAP and start the next challenge immediately since it would require overnight chilling. Only this time, Xak wasn’t doing the baking. I’d be putting on the apron. Dun Dun Dun….
Bonus: About that Victorian Vegetable sidedish…
For the record, we ended up eating the pie with broccoli because we are at the age where broccoli actually tastes good. I checked on the Victorian Cuisine and the Medieval cuisine wikipedia page and tried to search for any mention of the word “broccoli” on the page. 0 results. 🤣 Oh well.