“Try bear pie made with stout,” said Peter, my bear hunting partner, one evening while relaxing by the fire of the outfitter tent after harvesting a black bear, “Annie makes one that is delicious.” I was telling Peter that I needed to come up with a good bear recipe for the next edition of Bear Hunting Magazine and I was feeling in a bit of a rut.

Annie was kind enough to share her bear pie recipe and pointed me to Jamie Oliver’s YouTube video on beef and guinness pie. This is where I started and then riffed my adjustments to suit my taste. She reminded me there was no shame in buying premade pastry, which is exactly what I did.

Firstly, a spring bear harvested from the Boreal Forest is the nearest to very lean beef, if I am forced to make a comparison. Spring bears tend to be lean and clean. Bears are just getting moving after a long winter’s weight loss program and are scrambling between two top priorities: breeding and eating. Mostly what is available forage-wise is clover, grasses, and, if you are lucky to find them, dandelions. When spotting and stalking, we look for green patches of grasses, clover, and yellow flowers (and freshly dropped bear scat, of course).

In Alberta, we can buy two bear tags. Each wildlife management area has its bear hunting seasons. Some areas have no black bear season, some have one tag, and some have two. The area where we hunt allows each hunter to take two bears, one with a general license and one with a supplemental license. According to the large carnivore specialist in Alberta, there are 4,000 more bears on the landscape this spring because of canceled bear hunts the previous two years due to Covid.

Our spot and stalk hunts are relaxed. We set up the outfitter tent in the Boreal Forest. Mornings usually include a second pot of coffee and often bacon and eggs. Sometimes we don’t get rolling until after lunch. This time of year, it is light until 10:30 or 11:00 p.m. It seemed we were early this year because there was limited scat, and the clover and dandelions were slower than normal. Peter took a young boar, which turned out to be delicious and the hide will be tanned fur-on and made into something useful. We were not gunning for the biggest bear or no bear, we were gunning for a legal bear. The first one we see that’s legal is going to be pie.

We butchered the bear, cutting the largest leg muscle to make steaks—in my case these were destined to be bear and stout pie. The bones were chunked up with my hand-bone saw and will be made into a demi glace.

Here is the road map to a fantastic English Style Bear Pie.


  • Cutting board
  • French knife
  • Rolling pin
  • Garlic press (optional)
  • Measuring cups
  • Wooden spoon
  • Dutch oven
  • Deep pie dish


  •  1 kilo or two pounds of bear steak cut into 2” cubes
  • Coarse salt and black pepper to taste
  • 3 cloves of garlic, smashed
  • 3 shallots, peeled and sliced finely top to bottom
  • 1 sprig of fresh rosemary, stems removed and chopped coarsely
  • 2 green onions, chopped
  • 1 white onion, sliced
  • 1 large carrot, peeled and diced
  • 2 sticks of celery, diced
  • 1 cup celery leaves, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons of tomato paste
  • 1 500 ml can of black stout (about 2 cups). I used a local brew which would be my recommendation, but guinness works just fine
  • 1 cup of dried mushrooms, chopped medium (cover in boiling water and let steep for 20 minutes)
  • 8 ounces of shredded old cheddar cheese, divided into two
  • 1 pack of frozen prepared puff pastry (I used Tenderflake)
  • 2-3 tablespoons of flour
  • 3 tablespoons bear grease or olive oil
  • 1 egg, beaten with a fork (for the egg wash to seal the pastry)




  1. Cut the bear steaks into 2” chunks. Season with coarse salt and pepper and toss to incorporate the salt and pepper. Set aside to rest and absorb the salt while preparing the other ingredients for the recipe.
  2. Preheat the oven to 325 F.
  3. Boil water and cover the chopped dried mushrooms with hot water to steep.
  4. Prepare the rest of the vegetables as described.
  5. Heat bear grease or olive oil over high heat in the dutch oven, add the bear cubes and sear to brown, stirring occasionally.
  6. Add garlic, shallots, onion, and carrots. Continue on high heat stirring often until the onions are caramelized.
  7. Add the celery and rosemary and reduce the heat to low.
  8. Add the tomato paste, stir into the bottom of the pan, and cook 1-2 minutes.
  9. Stir well and then stir in 2-3 tablespoons of flour.
  10. Add the mushrooms and the liquid that covers them.
  11. Add the stout: bring to a simmer, remove from heat, cover, and place in the oven.
  12. The bear will take up to three hours to completely cook. Check every hour to ensure there is enough liquid in the dutch oven. Top up with beef stock if needed. Taste test the bear at two hours to determine if it needs another hour (my bear was a young one and ready to serve at two hours, but an older boar will need three hours).
  13. Once the bear is cooked, remove the dutch oven and place it in a cold-water bath. You want to knock the heat out of it or it will melt the pastry lining.

  1. Roll out the pastry to cover the base of your pie plate (I used a small dutch oven. A skillet would work as would a deep-dish pie pan).
  2. Place half of the cheddar cheese on the bottom of the ‘pie plate’.
  3. Cover the bottom of the ‘pie plate,’ fill with cooled bear mixture.
  4. Top with the rest of the cheddar.
  5. Brush the edges of the pie pastry with egg wash.
  6. Roll out the top to cover the pie. Optional: gently score the pastry with a knife before placing it on top of the pie.
  7. Place the pie top. Pinch the edges to join the top and sides of the pastry.
  8. Brush the pastry top with egg wash.
  9. Bake for about an hour at 375 F or until the pastry is golden.
  10. Serve with steamed buttered greens or your salad of choice (dandelion greens would be fun).

Hopefully, you have saved a pint of whatever stout you used in the recipe to share with your pals that have joined you for pie. This was a bit of a surprise for me. Meat pies have not been a regular thing in our house, but going forward they will be. This was delicious.