Venison & Pheasant Pie - Drumquin Guest House

by Elizabeth Atia -

Last weekend my husband and I had the rare treat of a child-free date night together. As a thank you for helping out at Ollaberry School last February we were treated to a gift voucher for a three course meal for two at Drumquin Guest House in Brae (and the offer of a babysitter). Neither of us had eaten there before although we'd heard very good reviews on the grapevine.

Run by Leslie Anderson and Robert Webster, Drumquin Guest House is a B&B located in a recently refurbished old Victorian schoolhouse overlooking the voe; an eclectic mix of the old and new.

The first thing that struck us when we were shown to our seats in the conservatory was the fashionable decor; a warming and inviting mixture of bold patterns in black, red and brown.

Drumquin Guest House pride themselves on their varied menu which includes local produce as often as possible; local seafood, local lamb, Shetland cheese, eggs from Yell and fresh salad, tomatoes and herbs grown by Leslie's own mother.

When Leslie and Robert took over Drumquin in December 2012 it was solely a B&B, but they noticed a gap in the market for somewhere small and intimate to come and eat featuring a menu that was a little bit different. In May 2013 they opened the daytime coffee shop, and evening meals soon followed.

At first the evening meals were only available one night a month in the summer for small, pre-booked groups. They expanded, opening five nights a week in the summer and three in the winter. Now, they are open all year round, including Christmas Day where they serve two sittings to cope with demand.

Their customers come from all over Shetland and they are well supported by both tourists and locals alike; there is rarely an empty seat in the house.

Their evening set price menu is available only by booking in advance; giving at least two days notice. They try and cater for all dietary needs, so if something needs to be gluten free or vegetarian, just let them know. Everything on the menu sounded so delicious that it took some time for my husband and I to decide what we wanted.

We were very impressed with our starters: a seafood medley of sweet chilli king prawns, a garlic infused scallop, prawns Marie Rose, smoked salmon & Philly blini and smoked mackerel pate with caviar on a mini oatcake (my husband's selection) and my hoi sin sauce and five spice duck breast salad.

My duck was cooked to perfection; still slightly pink inside and absolutely mouthwatering tender. The extra spoon of hoi sin sauce was used to dip the duck slices and the salad was a proper delicious salad (not a bagged supermarket salad with that dreadful frisee lettuce - not a fan - and old shredded red cabbage). This salad was fresh, crunchy and lightly flavoured with a mild five spice dressing. Our plates were clean when they went back to the kitchen.

Our very pleasant waitress quickly returned with our mains: steaming hot plates of braised rib-eye of beef with a pink peppercorn sauce (him) and a home made venison and pheasant pie with a shallot and ruby port gravy (me). Both dishes were served with roasted and boiled new potatoes and a selection of steamed seasonal vegetables.

Look at that pie! It was positively massive! Leslie and Robert believe that their diners should never go away feeling hungry and so their food portions are very, very generous. Neither of us could clean our plates this time, not if we were going to have room for the desserts we'd selected: home made cheesecake with vanilla ice cream (him) and chocolate fondue with marshmallows, fruit and mini doughnuts for dipping (me - because I'm still a child at heart and love dipping marshmallows into melted chocolate!).

Our babysitter (and meal token gifter) was keen to know which puddings we'd selected; ie: had we tried the home made seasonal pavlova. Apparently the fruit is folded into the whipped cream and is stacked this high (spreading hands 9 inches from each other) atop the meringue, she says. Next time!

We left bursting at the seams, very well fed, but not before I had a wee chat with the owners.

Leslie is originally from Brae; both his mother and sister went to the old schoolhouse that is now Drumquin House. He trained as a social worker and, like many youths in Shetland, headed south for employment. He was south for ten years, longing to come home, so when the opportunity arose to take over Drumquin he took it.

Robert is originally from St. Andrews and has worked as the food and beverage manager at a private hotel and leisure centre in Aberdeen.

Neither Leslie nor Robert have chef training, but they both have a passion for good, quality, home-cooked food which clearly shows in their menu. Leslie's first job, when he was the tender age of ten, was at Valleyfield, a guest house just outside Brae, peeling tatties from 10-2 every Sunday. He got a taste of working in a guest house as a child and he's finally realised his dream of having his own.

Their cooking is homely; proper comfort food affordably priced considering the generous portions. Although they are not licensed yet you can bring in your own bottle and they will provide glasses and coolers, if needed.

Robert kindly gave me his venison and pheasant pie recipe to share with A Taste of Shetland readers. Although they source their pie shells and puff pastry tops from local pie makers Callieu of Vidlin, he realises that our overseas readers may struggle to obtain these. Robert suggests you use your regular shortcrust pastry for the bottom and puff pastry for the top, or, to save time, skip the shortcrust and top with puff pastry only.

Home Made Venison and Pheasant Pie with a Shallot and Ruby Port Gravy

Course: Main

Servings: 4 people

Prep Time: 20 minutes

Cook Time: 1.5 hours

Ingredients
  • Venison haunch - 1
  • Pheasant fillet - 1
  • Olive oil - 2 tbsp
  • Shallots - 8 (peeled and left whole)
  • Beef & chicken stocks - (to cover)
  • Colburn's ruby port - 150 ml
  • Fresh thyme - 3 sprigs (or 1 tsp dried)
  • Dried oregano - 1 tsp
  • Bisto - (to thicken)
  • Puff pastry - 1 pack
  • Egg yolk - 1 (beaten)
Instructions
  1. Cube venison and brown in olive oil in a large pan over medium-high heat.
  2. Cube pheasant fillet and brown in olive oil.
  3. Add the shallots to the venison and pheasant. Cover with a mixture of beef and chicken stock. The amount will vary depending on the quantities of game, but cover generously as the mixture will reduce.
  4. Add the port and herbs and simmer on a medium heat for at least an hour.
  5. When the meat is tender and the liquid reduced, thicken with Bisto.
  6. Spoon into a pie dish and cover with a round of puff pastry cut to size. Brush the top with beaten egg yolk.
  7. Bake at 210 C for 10-15 minutes until the puff pastry rises and is lovely and golden.

Robert tends to throw this recipe together using the quantities of ingredients on hand. He says the combination of beef and chicken stock brings out the flavours of the game better, and Bisto is used to thicken the gravy.

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