Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Venison with Juniper and Blackberry-Honey Sauce

This week, we bring you deer meat, still drenched in its own blood-- just kidding! Certainly does look like it, doesn't it? Actually, it's just venison tenderloin, rubbed with juniper berry and served with a savory blackberry-rosemary sauce, sweetened with a touch of local honey. The sauce did take a bit of time to make, but what takes a long time is usually worth the effort. This is one of those times.
Can you believe that this is our first wild game recipe using juniper berry? We have a hard time believing it ourselves. As many of you may know, juniper and wild game make a classic pairing. Hunters from the Rocky Mountains to the Cascades and throughout the Great Lakes and eastern woodlands have long prepared their game birds and venison with juniper. It's that sweet, peppery taste that stands up perfectly to the robust flavors of wild game. 

People often ask us for elk recipes. But elk and venison are very similar. You can pretty much interchange all our venison recipes for elk.

Juniper Berries
Servings: 2
Prep Time: 4 hours
Cooking Time: about 1 hour
Ingredients:
- 1 lb. venison tenderloin
- 3 tbs. corn oil
- 2 tbs. olive oil
- 1 tbs. juniper berries, crushed
- 1 small tomato, chopped
- 1 sprig of rosemary
- 1/4 cup of onion, finely chopped
- 2 tbs. of carrot, finely chopped
- 1/2 cup of red wine
- 2 cups of beef stock (or venison stock)
- 5 tbs. of honey
- 1 tbs. apple cider vinegar
- 1/2 cup of fresh blackberries 
- sea salt, to taste

1. Crush 1 tbs. of juniper berries in a mortar and pestle, or in a food processor.
Evenly rub crushed juniper berry over venison tenderloin, along with sea salt (to taste) and 3 tbs. of corn oil. Marinate in fridge for 4 hours.

*Remember to remove all fat and silver skin from venison.
2. To prepare the sauce, combine 2 tbs. of olive oil, chopped tomato, onion and carrot  in a heavy saucepan over medium-high heat. Add a pinch of salt. Stir frequently and cook for about 10 minutes. 
It should look like this. Be careful not to burn the vegetables. 
3. Next, add 1/2 cup of red wine. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to medium. Cook for about 10 to 12 minutes, until reduced by half. 
4. After the wine has reduced, increase heat to high. Add stock and a sprig of rosemary. Return to a boil, then decrease heat to medium-low to gently simmer. 
5. In a separate saucepan, add 1 tbs. of honey, 1 tsp. of apple cider vinegar and 1/2  cup of blackberries over high heat. Squish berries with spoon. Bring to a hard boil then decrease heat to medium. Take off heat when berries are mushy and liquified, about 5 minutes.

Just had to share this beautiful honey, which we got from a local bee charmer. :-)
5. Take sauce off heat and strain solids. Combine the blackberry mixture with the sauce. (Blackberry mixture will still had seeds. That's ok for now.) Simmer the combined mixture over medium heat for about 15-30 minutes, or until its thick enough to coat the back of spoon. 
Once thickened, pour the sauce again through a strainer to remove seeds. Reason why we didn't remove the seeds earlier is because we want the pectin, which is a natural thickening agent found in fruit. 
After the sauce as been reduced and strained, the end result should look like this. Mix in an additional 4 tbs. of honey to sweeten the sauce, or to taste. Set aside to allow sauce to cool. 
6. Grill marinated tenderloin from rare to medium. Nothing beyond medium. Wrap in a tin foil to allow the tenderloin to rest for 5-10 minutes before cutting. Remember to let refrigerated meat come to room temperature before cooking. We typically take our meat out 1 hour prior to cooking. 
Cut tenderloin into medallions. Serve immediately on warmed plates. Drizzle Blackberry Honey Sauce over venison. Enjoy...
And watch the urban sunset. Not quite like the country, is it?

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