Roasted Venison Backstrap With Cherry-Peppercorn Sauce

I have about a dozen friends who hunt. All of them must be pretty good at it, because they seem always to have freezers full of venison that they’re eager to give away. I’m pleased to accept it so I can make up dishes like this one. By the way, this is the kind of dish that will turn around those who say they don’t like game. My kids even liked this, and that’s saying something.

Venison backstrap with cherry reduction.

  • 4 venison backstraps (about 4-6 pounds total)
  • Marinade:
  • 1 cup Cabernet Sauvignon or Merlot
  • 1/2 cup orange juice
  • 1 Tbs. black peppercorns
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 tsp. marjoram
  • 1 tsp. thyme
  • 3 Tbs. butter
  • 1 Tbs. chopped French shallots
  • 3 Tbs. black cherry or currant jam
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1 Tbs. Tabasco steak sauce

1. A day before cooking, put the venison into food storage bags with all the marinade ingredients. Refrigerate until cooking time.

2. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Remove the venison from the marinating bag and shake off the excess marinade. Salt and pepper the loins. Strain the marinade into a bowl or cup and hold aside.

3. In a large, heavy skillet over medium-high heat, heat 2 Tbs. of the butter until it bubbles. Add the venison to the skillet and brown it all over. When browned, move the venison to a roasting rack in the preheated 350-degree oven.

4. Add the shallots to the pan and sauté for a few seconds. Add the strained marinade to the pan and bring to a boil, whisking it to dislodge the browned meat juices and bits on the pan. Reduce the marinade to about 2/3 cup.

5. Stir in the jam and steak sauce. Continue cooking until the jam is dissolved.

6. Strain the sauce again into a clean, small saucepan and return to a simmer. Taste and adjust salt and pepper levels. You can also reduce it some more to get a thicker sauce. Remove from the heat and whisk in 1 Tbs. butter.

7. The venison is medium-rare when it registers 145 on a meat thermometer. Remove from the oven and allow to stand for 15 minutes. Slice into 1/2-inch discs, and nap with the sauce.

Serves six to eight.

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