Diana (Artemis, to the Greeks), is the goddess of the hunt. Although she vowed never to marry and remained a virgin, she is also the goddess of childbirth. Diana’s festival takes place on August 13th. Her symbols include deer and hunting dogs.
One of Diana’s archetypes is the Child of Nature. I believe that this child is a symbol of someone who grew up understanding nature and where food comes from, and learning to hunt only for food and taking only what was necessary. Giving thanks was also a part of this ritual. This archetype reminds us to feel the grass under our feet, dance in the moonlight, and respect the Mother’s creatures.
These days, we don’t rely on hunting for meat (for those of us who eat meat. If you don’t, you may not be interested in the following recipe…). Some people hunt for food, while others hunt for sport (I’m not judging…). As I have written before, we have become quite disconnected from our food sources. Plus, a lot of our food doesn’t resemble what humans used to eat, even after agriculture took hold.
I don’t hunt because I am the worst shot in the world. If I had to try in order to provide food for my family, I would do my best, but I am afraid of hurting the animal instead of killing it as quickly as possible.
I feel it is very important to dispatch of a living creature as quickly and painlessly as possible. Even though I don’t hunt, my cousins do, and when I know they are planning a trip, I say a prayer the night before or the morning of. I give thanks in advance to any animals that are killed, and I ask for a quick and painless trip to the afterlife for them.
I connect to Diana a bit, but not as much as I connect to Vesta. I enjoy learning more about different feminine forms of the Divine and looking at their similarities and differences, but I don’t always identify with or connect to that particular form. And that’s okay.
As I mentioned above, I connect more with Vesta (I know her as Hestia), so the way I prepare for the hunt is to have food for the hunters. Therefore, you get yet another recipe. This IS a kitchen witch’s blog, after all!
Hunters’ Duck Pie
Or Duck Hunters’ Pie, if you prefer!
This makes a hefty pie that you can cut into thick wedges and eat cold. There are a lot of steps. You spend a lot of time waiting for pastry to chill and duck meat to braise. This is something to make when you have an afternoon free. You can even make things separately and keep them in the refrigerator for a day or two.
If you’ve never had duck, you might want to start with something simpler. Still, duck is delicious, and I recommend it.
· 4 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
· 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
· 7 tablespoons lard, chilled
· 7 tablespoons butter, chilled
· 1 cup ice water
· 2 pounds duck legs and 1 pound duck breast (or use one or the other)
· 2 cups duck or chicken stock
· 10 ounces pancetta or bacon, minced
· 2 small onions (about 2 cups), minced
· 2 tablespoons butter, duck fat, or bacon grease
· 6 sage leaves, minced
· 2 springs rosemary, chopped
· 2 tablespoons fresh thyme, chopped
· 1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
· 1 teaspoon salt
· 2 teaspoons black pepper
· ¼ teaspoon cayenne
· 1 egg, beaten
9” spring form pan
- To make the pie crust, combine all ingredients except water in a food processor. Pulse to break up and evenly distribute the chilled fat.
- Turn the food processor on and stream in enough cold water to form a dough that holds together.
- Remove dough, form into a ball, and wrap in plastic. Chill in the refrigerator for 45-60 minutes.
- Season the duck meat well with salt and pepper and arrange in a Dutch oven. Pour in the stock.
- Place in a 300 F oven with the lid on, and cook for 90 minutes.
- Check doneness of the meat. The meat should be falling off the bone. Give it another half hour and then check again. The entire cooking process may take up to 3 hours. Keep an eye on the duck and check it every half hour.
- When the meat is falling off the bone, remove it. Reserve the liquid.
- When the meat is cool enough, remove it from the bones. Strain the cooled liquid.
- Heat a skillet on medium-high heat. Cook the bacon until you’ve rendered out some of the fat. Don’t let it get crispy.
- Remove the bacon and drain on paper towels.
- Lower the heat and cook the onion 7-10 minutes, until tender.
- Mix in the herbs and seasoning.
- Add the bacon and the duck meat, cubed.
- Pour in enough of the strained broth to moisten the mixture.
- Thicken either with a roux or a tablespoon of cornstarch dissolved in cold broth or water.
- While this mixture cools and thickens a bit, roll out the pastry, reserving ¼ of it for the top of the pie.
- You want the crust to be relatively thick, about 1/3”. It does not have to be a perfect circle, but it does have to come up the sides of your spring form pan.
- Butter the bottom and sides of your spring form pan and line with the pastry, minus the part you’ve reserved for the top.
- Fill the pie with the duck mixture.
- Roll out the remaining bit of pastry and cover the pie. Pinch the top and sides together.
- Cut a couple of slits or an “X” in the middle of the pie.
- Preheat the oven to 350 F.
- Bake the pie for 25-30 minutes at 350.
- Reduce the heat to 325 and bake for another hour.
- Remove the pie, brush with the beaten egg, and place back in the oven for another 20-25 minutes.
- Remove the pie from the oven and allow it to rest.
- This pie is ideally served cold, so it is nice to make it the day before you plan to serve it.
- Serve it with a spicy mustard and some cornichons. Send a hot thermos of tea, too.
** Alternately, you can make a venison pie.
If you are taking this pie hunting, don’t forget to leave some as an offering of thanks and blessings for a successful hunt. Give thanks and blessings to the animal(s) when you are successful. Remember that the hunt is possible through the Divine.
Oh, and save me some pie!