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First, make the pastry. Put the self-raising flour and 1 tsp salt in a large bowl and stir in the suet. Add 250ml cold water, a little at a time, gradually bringing the dough together. You may not need all the water. Allow to rest for 10 mins or so.
To make the filling, melt half the dripping in a large frying pan over a high heat. Fry the venison and pork in batches until thoroughly browned. Remove the meat to a large bowl, then add the rest of the dripping to the pan over a medium heat. Add the onion and cook gently for 5 mins until it begins to soften.
Return the meat to the pan and stir, then add the flour and stir well. Add the thyme, bay, ketchup, port, wine and stock, bring to a simmer and season. Tip the mixture into a large bowl. Allow to cool, then chill. Can be made 2 days in advance.
When you are ready to make the pudding, grease a 1-litre pudding basin with a little oil or lard. Roll out two-thirds of the pastry to a large circle and use it to line the basin. Allow the pastry to overlap the edges all around. Add the filling, pressing it down well. Roll out the remaining pastry to a circle to make the lid. Using a little cold water, moisten the edges of the lining pastry, put the lid on top and crimp the edges well, pressing to seal. Trim off excess pastry.
To cover the pudding, lay a sheet of foil on top of a sheet of non-stick baking parchment. Fold a pleat in the sheets (this will allow the pudding room to expand) and put them over the basin. Tie the sheets on with string, securing tightly, and trim off any excess paper and foil.
To cook the pudding, lay a pastry cutter or metal ring in the base of a large pan (or use an upturned plate or saucer). Put the pudding basin on it and add water to the pan so that it comes approximately halfway up the basin. Bring the pan to a simmer, then reduce the heat and add the lid. Check after 10 mins that the pan is still simmering gently – don’t let it boil too vigorously. When you are sure the pan is set at the right temperature, cook the pudding for 3½-4 hrs. Top up the pan with boiling water at regular intervals.
Once the pudding is cooked, take it out of the pan and remove the foil and paper. Invert a plate onto the pudding, then turn the plate and pudding over. Gently remove the basin. Serve the pudding immediately with your favourite winter vegetables.
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