Venison, Kumara and Juniper Berry Pie

A scrumptious classic gets a light summery twist. Serve with Peter Yealands Reserve Pinot Noir.  

Recipe and styling Sarah Heeringa. Photography Amanda Reelick

4 sheets of ready-rolled puff pastry
olive oil
400g venison, cut into small cubes
1 heaped tbsp plain flour (or cornflour)
3 medium red onions, peeled and sliced
3 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped 
3 large (or 5 small) kumara, scrubbed and cubed 
1 stick celery, trimmed and chopped
1 small zucchini, halved lengthwiseand chopped
fresh rosemary and thyme leaves
several fresh bay leaves
5-6 juniper berries, crushed using a pestle and mortar
freshly ground salt and pepper
1 tsp dried Italian herbs*
500ml malty beer or stout
1 small free-range egg, beaten
1 x 23cm pie dish

Preheat the oven to 180°C. 

Filling: Heat a little olive oil in a large ovenproof pan on a medium heat. Toss venison in flour and fry for several minutes to brown. Set aside. 

Reduce the heat, add a little more oil and the onions, and fry gently for about 10 minutes. Add the remaining ingredients, except the beer and egg, and cook everything quickly for 3-4 minutes. Toss to prevent the mixture from sticking to the base of the pan. Pour in the beer, plus several tablespoons of water. Bring to a simmer, pop the lid on and place in the oven. 

Cook for about 21/2 hours, giving it a stir from time to time, until the meat is tender and the liquid is rich and thick. If necessary, remove the lid for the last 15 minutes or so until the mixture thickens up a bit – just take care to push any pieces of venison down into the liquid so they don’t dry out. 

Once cooked, allow mixture to cool. 

Pastry: Roll out the pastry on a lightly floured surface until it is around the thickness of a coin (about 4mm). Butter the pie dish and line with pastry. Put in fridge (20 minutes) or freezer
(10 minutes) to cool. 

To assemble: Tip the filling into the pie dish and place the pastry lid on top of the pie, allowing plenty of folds. Use a sharp knife to trim off any extra pastry. Dip a fork into flour and use it to press the pie lid onto the base pastry. 

Cut several vents in the pastry lid, or make a hole and insert a pie vent (as pictured). Put the pie in the fridge or freezer to chill pastry before cooking.  

Brush the pie top with beaten egg, place the pie on a lower shelf of the oven and bake for 40-45 minutes, until the pastry is well cooked, puffed up and golden.

Good tip: For convenience, cook this filling in advance – ideally when you have the oven on for something else. Cover and store in the fridge or freezer until required.

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