It’s not often that I cook a nice bit of venison, but it’s definitely worth a try. I think you’ll be surprised how much you’ll like it — the meat tastes like a well-hung steak and can be very juicy. It goes so well with the fruit in this dish, and is great served with some steamed purple sprouting broccoli. Mashed potato, parsnip or celeriac (celery root) go well with this too.
- 1 small handful of fresh thyme, leaves picked
- 5 dried juniper berries
- Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
- Extra virgin olive oil
- 1 x 800g/1 ¾ lb venison loin, trimmed
- 4 shallots, peeled and finely sliced
- 1 clove of garlic, peeled and finely sliced
- 1 glass of robust red wine
- 200g/7oz fresh blueberries
- 2 large knobs of butter
Bash up the thyme and juniper berries in a pestle and mortar with a really good pinch of salt and pepper. If you haven’t got a pestle and mortar, use the end of a rolling pin and a metal bowl. Loosen with 3 good lugs of olive oil. Pat the venison dry with some kitchen paper (paper towels), and rub the oil mixture all over it. Sear the meat in a hot pan on all sides turning it every minute — roughly 6 minutes for medium rare, 7-8 minutes for medium, and you’d have to be a nutter if you wanted to cook it for any longer than that! Depending on the thickness of the meat and the heat of the pan, it may need a little less or more time to cook — so don’t look at the clock, look at the meat. This is the time when you want to try to be instinctive with your meat. Remove it from the pan when it’s cooked to your liking and allow it to rest on a plate for 4 minutes, covered with tinfoil.
Reduce the heat under the pan and add a good lug of oil. Add the shallots and the garlic and fry gently for around 3 minutes until translucent and tender. Turn up the heat again, add the wine, and let it reduce by half. Add the blueberries and simmer slowly for 4 minutes, then remove the pan from the heat, add the butter, and jiggle and shake the pan around so the sauce goes slightly opaque and shiny. Season to taste.
Slice the venison into 2cm/3/4-inch slices and serve with steamed purple sprouting broccoli or some other good greens. Add the meat’s resting juices to the sauce and spoon over the venison. Absolutely fantastic.
Nutritional information is based on 1/8 teaspoon added salt per serving, and includes 4 tablespoons of olive oil.