Venison Casserole with Cranberry Dumplings

2 1/2 pounds stewing venison, cut into 1 - 1 1/2 inch cubes

2 tablespoons allpurpose flour

3 tablespoons olive oil

6 ounces smoked bacon, cut into strips

2 onions, chopped

2 garlic cloves, crushed

1 3/4 cups chicken stock or canned broth

1 sprig rosemary

1 sprig thyme

1 bay leaf

6 juniper berries, crushed

salt and pepper

Marinade:

1 1/4 cups red wine

1 onion, chopped

3 tablespoons Cognac

2 tablespoons olive oil

Cranberry dumplings:

1/4 cup cranberries, defroseted, if frozen

1 tablespoon sugar

1 tablespoon water

1 cup self-rising flour, sifted

1/2 cup fresh white bread crumbs

1 ounce shredded suet

2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley

Place the cubes of venison in a large bowl, add the marinade ingredients, stir well, cover, and leave to marinate in the refrigerator for 12--24 hours.

Remove the venison pieces from the marinade and pat dry. Strain the marinade through a strainer. Discard the onion and reserve the marinade liquid. Season the flour and roll the meat in it, shaking off any excess.

Heat the oil in a flameproof casserole over a moderate heat, add the venison in batches, and brown well all over. Remove the meat with a slotted spoon and set aside.

Add the bacon to the casserole dish and cook for 3-4 minutes until lightly browned. Add the onions and garlic and cook for 8-10 minutes until softened. Pour in the reserved marinade liquid, bring to the boil, and boil rapidly until reduced by one-third.

Return the venison to the casserole dish along with any juices. Stir in the stock or canned broth, rosemary, thyme, bay leaf, and juniper berries. Bring to the boil, cover tightly, and simmer gently for 1 1/2 to 2 hours until the meat is tender. Alternatively, cook in a preheated oven at 325 degrees F.

To make the dumplings, place the cranberries and sugar in a small saucepan with the water. Bring to the boil and simmer gently for 1-2 minutes until the berries start to char.

Mix the flour, the breadcrumbs, suet and parsley together in a bowl. Season to taste. Stir in the cranberries, adding more water, if needed, to make a soft dough. Form into 8 small balls and add to the casserole for the last 15-20 minutes of cooking time. Cover and cook until the dumplings are risen and fluffy. Remove the bay leaf from the casserole and serve