Hello Friends! With the House of the Dragon season finale coming up tomorrow, this savory House Targaryen-inspired meat pie recipe just screams for its debut. You’ve seen the preview on my social media. Let’s dig into this pastry worthy of the heir to the Iron Throne!
Click here to skip to the recipe for Hart of the Dragon Pie.
The White Hart of Westeros
“Before the dragons ruled over Westeros, the white hart was a symbol of royalty in these lands.”
In episode 3 of this season of House of the Dragon, a sighting of a white hart in the Kingswood on Prince Aegon’s second birthday has Viserys questioning his choice of Rhaenyra as heir. A believer in the Prince Who Was Promised prophecy of his line, Viserys becomes susceptible to supposed divine signs. If he happens to find and kill the white hart on this day, it means his new son is the true heir. He never finds the White Hart — but instead mortally wounds a caught, common stag. If anything, we learn more about Viserys’s passivity and reluctance to handle conflict, which makes him more of a placeholder of a King while his lackeys and hand plot around him. He never makes a decision on his own until it’s too late to avoid the damage from his procrastination.
The white hart, though, appears to Rhaenyra after she kills a boar in self-defense. Granted, she’s only out in the woods because she attempts to run away — thinking that she no longer matters to her family with Aegon in the picture. But seeing the hart is a confirmation to her of the responsibility that lies ahead — jumpstarting a lifetime conflict of desire versus duty. As for me, this scene reminds me of GOT‘s white hart, which Robert Baratheon finds dead and gnawed upon by wolves before meeting the boar who kills him. Like the dead Hart, Robert falls, and his kingdom gets eaten and fought over by scavengers. Rhaenyra’s Hart regards her for a period shorter than the dawn before wandering on with hardly anyone to witness it.
King of the Kingswood
So before the House of the Dragon even aired, my husband wanted me to make a venison pie. Forgetting entirely that we had already gifted our remaining venison roasts to our fathers months ago, I agreed. Some research into the Apicius, the oldest surviving Roman recipe collection, provided me with an entire section on how to cook venison. Venison Sauce, or “ius in cervo,” says to “mix pepper, lovage, onion, oregano, pine nuts, dates, honey, garum, mustard, vinegar, oil,” while Sauce for Stag, or “ius in cervum,” mentions crushing a similar collection of spices, “moisten[ing] with broth (…) binding with roux” and “immers[ing] in this sauce braise to penetrate and to soften, and serve.”
I decided on blending these two methods — crushing the onion, dates, and pine nuts in the food processor, then browning it in olive oil and drippings from the browned meat. One problem, though. Do you remember those venison roasts? The ones we already gave away. Luckily beef shank meat was on sale! Ideally, you want a leaner cut of beef — or beef stew meat to mimic stag. Lamb has a similar flavor — but I usually find it too fatty for a dish like this.
Beyond that, the only other change I made was swapping celery seed for the mentioned lovage and unintentionally forgetting the oregano. I wholly recommend preparing this filling ahead of time — preferably the night before because it allows the flavor to develop. But this also thickens the mixture enough to make a cohesive pie filling. As for the crust? You’ve done enough work. I used two boxes of Pillsbury roll-out crusts. Trust me. You’ll need all four rounds.
Since my husband has a lot more patience than I do (and also because it was his idea), I had him use parchment paper as tracing paper for the Targaryen sigil. The trick is lightly drawing over it to leave an impression on the dough. Also, the thinner parts will bake up quickly. That’s why you need to watch it like a hawk when it goes into the oven and let it cool completely before transferring it to the pie.
Finally, I melted some redcurrant jelly over the crust because I love a little sweetness with my savory. Redcurrent goes wonderfully well with venison and gives this pasty a lovely crimson hue much more palatable than the other red substance we associate with House of the Dragon!
Sing for Your Supper!
If you plan to cook the recipe off the site, keep scrolling. However, while access to recipes on the blog will always be free, I also have printable PDF recipe cards and thematic cook-along Spotify playlists as rewards for those who choose to support the blog.
The printable recipe card and playlist for this Hart of the Dragon Pie inspired by House of the Dragon will be available as a $2 donor reward on my Ko-Fi page until the next post goes up. After that, just the card will be available in my Ko-Fi shop.
You can instead join my Patreon community at the “Sing for your Supper” level ($1/month) for access to the playlists or the “It’s All in the Cards” level ($5/month) or higher for access to ALL of my blog recipe cards and playlists. To get you started, patrons of all reward tiers receive a welcome gift of my Lord of the Rings recipe cards and playlists from January 2019.
Fire and Blood
Hart of the Dragon Pie
Equipment: Stovetop, food processor, 10-inch skillet, deep dish pie plate, oven, parchment paper, baking sheet, rolling pin, aluminum foil, and pastry brush.
- 2 lbs venison or beef stew meat
- 4 dates, pitted
- 2 Tb pine nuts
- 1 large yellow onion, peeled and quartered
- 2 tsp black pepper
- 2 tsp celery seed
- 3 Tb olive oil
- 1 Tb balsamic vinegar
- 1 Tb old-style mustard
- 2 Tb honey2 Tb all-purpose flourkosher salt
- fish sauce (optional)
- 4 roll-out pie crusts
- 1/4 cup redcurrant jelly
- 1 egg, beaten
Make the Filling (at least one day prior):
- Prepare and measure your ingredients. Pulse the dates, pine nuts, and onion in the food processor until finely minced. Toss the venison stew meat in flour and kosher salt. And blend the black pepper with celery seed and set aside.
- Preheat the skillet for 3 minutes over medium heat, then add two tablespoons of olive oil. Once hot, add half of the spice mix and stir for 30 seconds before browning the meat in single-layer batches.
- Transfer the pulverized onions into the pan and cook for 3-5 minutes until fragrant, then deglaze the skillet with 1/2 cup of water. Scrape up the browned bits, then return the meat to the pan.
- Pour in water until it just covers the meat, then bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low. Simmer for one and a half hours, or until most of the liquid absorbs.
- Blend honey, old-style mustard, balsamic vinegar, a tablespoon of olive oil, and the remaining spice blend in a dish, then scrape into the pan.
- Turn off the heat and blend the contents of the skillet until emulsified and thickened. Stir in fish sauce or kosher salt to taste.
- Let the contents of the skillet cool before transferring to a container to chill in the refrigerator for at least 1 hour until needed.
When ready to bake:
- Preheat the oven to 425°F. Split one of the pie crusts in half and cut a half-crust into one-inch strips. Unroll another crust and arrange the strips to overlap the edges of the dough. Use the rolling pin to press the dough together.
- Drape the enlarged crust over the rolling pin and transfer it to line the pie dish. Add the filling and spread in an even layer.
- Repeat step 9 with another crust and crust half, then cover the pie. Fold the crust over the lower crust edge and tuck it underneath.
- Gently flute the edges, cut a few vents, and brush with beaten egg. Bake for 15 minutes, then cover the edges of the crust with foil. Bake another 30 minutes or until the top is golden brown.
- While baking, unroll the final crust on parchment paper and place the template on top. Use a skewer to lightly trace over the lines to leave an impression on the dough, but not pierce through it. Use a sharp knife to cut out the dragon.
- Transfer the parchment paper to a baking sheet and brush the dough with beaten egg. While the pie cools, bake the decoration for 5 to 7 minutes.
- Clean the pastry brush. Then melt the jelly in the saucepan over low heat. Brush the melted jelly over the top of the cooked pie.
- Slide the pastry dragon on top. Serve when ready.
Pie can be premade and reheated in the oven at 170°F for 20-30 minutes.