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Roast haunch of venison with squash and pomegranate

This roast haunch of venison with squash and pomegranate allows for ample leftovers to make a killer shepherd's pie.
Issy Croker

Top Tips

Farmed venison is usually bigger than wild, but both will allow ample leftovers to make a killer shepherd's pie - just chop the leftover meat and cook into a ragù, and either use at once or freeze. I like to make the squash purée a day ahead if I have lots to do.

Anne Tupker, Master of Wine: 'With the venison haunch, I suggest the 100 per cent Garnacha, Pegaso Pizarra 2009 from Spanish winemaker Telmo Rodriguez. Round and velvet-textured, it offers a powerful mix of summer berries, aniseed, spice and violets - a great match for the bold, exotic flavours (£25;'


Serves 6


5kg bone-in haunch of venison, chump and H-bone removed, then tied neatly (you can ask your butcher to do this)
1tbsp cumin seeds
1tsp fenugreek seeds
3tbsp harissa, preferably rose harissa from Belazu
3tbsp olive oil
3 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed

For the squash purée

2 large butternut squash (about 2kg), peeled, deseeded and cut into large cubes
Good glug extra-virginolive oil
50g butter
2tbsp pomegranate molasses
1-2tbsp rose harissa (to taste)
1 pomegranate, seeds
  1. Method

    Step 1

    Heat the oven to 220˚C/fan oven 200˚C/mark 8. Weigh the venison to calculate the cooking time - it will be about 80-90 minutes (8-9 minutes per 500g meat). I like venison rare, so I go for 8 minutes per 500g.

    Step 2

    Line a large roasting tin (big enough for the venison) with foil. Heat a small frying pan over a medium heat and add the cumin and fenugreek seeds. Gently toast for 3-4 minutes, until warmed through and fragrant. Crush in a pestle and mortar then mix with the harissa, oil and garlic. Season well, then rub over the venison. If you have time, allow to marinate for a few hours in the fridge.

    Step 3

    Remove it from the fridge half an hour before you want to cook it. Roast for 40 minutes, then turn down the oven to 170˚C/fan oven 150˚C/mark 3 for the last 40-50 minutes. If you have a meat thermometer, check the internal temperature: 60˚C for medium rare, 55˚C for rare. Remove from the oven and allow to rest for at least 15 minutes in a warm place, covered with foil.

    Step 4

    While the venison is cooking, rub the squash with salt, pepper and olive oil, and place on a roasting tin. Cover with foil and roast at 170˚C/fan oven 150˚C/mark 3 for 45 minutes to 1 hour until soft. Use a hand blender or empty into a food processor with the butter and whizz until smooth. Season with pomegranate molasses and harissa, up to 1tsp flaky sea salt and plenty of freshly ground black pepper. Reheat before serving (this can be made up to a day in advance and kept in the fridge until ready to reheat).

    Step 5

    Once the meat has rested, lift the joint onto a carving board and carve into 1cm slithers or thinner. Spoon the purée onto warmed plates and top with slices of venison, scraping sticky bits and juice onto the meat. Serve with a scattering of pomegranate seeds.