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Field to Table: Butter Roasted Venison with Gin and Juniper Blueberry Sauce

A Holiday Venison Delight

The holidays are a special time of year for everyone, but for hunters, it happens to fall at a particularly good time. Many of us will have just completed a couple months of steady hunting away from our families, and the holiday season gives us a couple days to unwind and spend some quality time with loved ones.

If our preparation and hard work met a little luck somewhere out in the bush, we now have a freezer full of some of the best organic meat around. So one night this holiday season, why not treat the family to some of the good game cuts you worked so hard to bring home? While this butter roasted venison with gin and juniper blueberry sauce is simple, it will impress and satisfy everyone's taste buds this winter.

There are a couple of reasons the gin and juniper blueberry sauce is perfect for your venison roast. For starters, it’s a simple-to-make sauce that you can hold hot leading up to dinner. And although it might sound out of the ordinary, it pairs perfect with venison. Juniper berries give gin it’s distinctive flavor and work well with dark wild game, giving your venison an exotic flavor. Finally, juniper grows in abundance in deer and elk ranges, so combining the two is a natural fit.

This specific recipe uses deer backstrap, but it can easily be adapted to use elk backstrap or any other venison roast. If you’re preparing a big roast that requires more cooking time, transfer the cast iron pan directly to the oven after flipping and roast at 325° F. When the middle of the roast is 10-15°F below where you want it, pull it from the oven and continue with the butter basting steps over the stovetop.

In addition to the roast, we have included a recipe for roasted yams with sage, but this venison recipe will work with any of the standard holiday table fare. Enjoy!

Ingredients:

Serves 2 (with sauce to spare)

Roasted Yams

  • 2 Medium yams cut into 1/2” pieces
  • 1 Tablespoon butter
  • 1 Tablespoon olive oil
  • 3 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed
  • 2 sprigs of sage
  • Pinch of salt
  • Fresh cracked pepper
  • 3/4 cup white wine

Venison Roast

  • 3/4 lb venison backstrap (seasoned w/ salt and pepper)
  • 2 Tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed in skins (leaving the skins on helps prevent the garlic from burning too quickly)
  • 2 sprigs of rosemary
  • 3 Tablespoons of butter

Gin and Juniper Blueberry Sauce

  • 1 Tablespoon butter
  • 1 shallot, finely sliced
  • 1/4 cup of gin
  • 5 juniper berries, crushed
  • 1 cup demi-glace
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1/2 cup frozen blueberries. Try to find the small wild ones
  • 1/3 cup blueberry jelly/jam
  • 2 Tablespoons sherry vinegar. Substitute red wine vinegar if needed

Step-By-Step Instructions:

Roasted Yams

  1. Heat a wide bottomed pot with the butter and vegetable oil over medium heat for 30 seconds. Add the yams, garlic cloves, and sage leaves.
  2. Cook the yams until they have browned, approximately 1-2 minutes. Watch closely as they will burn quickly from their high sugar content.
  3. Flip the yams and add the white wine to the pot.
  4. Lid the yams, turn the heat down to a gentle simmer and cook until the yams are cooked through, approximately 10 minutes.
  5. Check the yams often to ensure the liquid doesn’t completely evaporate. If the liquid evaporates before the yams are cooked, add a splash of water and continue until the yams are cooked.

Venison Roast

  1. Heat a heavy bottomed pan over medium high heat and season the roast with salt and pepper on all sides.
  2. Add the oil to the pan and when it just begins to smoke, add the venison.
  3. Cook until the roast has a dark brown crust on the bottom and then flip.
  4. If the roast is larger than a medium-size backstrap, transfer it to a 350°F oven and cook to your desired temperature.
  5. Lower the heat to medium-low and add the butter, garlic, and rosemary.
  6. Tilt the pan towards you, and using a big spoon, baste the venison with the butter for 3-4 minutes. Flip and repeat.
  7. When the roast reaches the temperature you want, remove the pan from the heat and allow the roast to rest for a minimum of 10 minutes.
  8. Once rested, slice the roast against the grain and serve with the roasted garlic and the gin and juniper blueberry sauce

Gin and Juniper Blueberry Sauce

  1. Heat the butter in small pot over medium-low heat.
  2. Add the sliced shallots and sweat for 2-3 minutes until translucent.
  3. Add the gin and crushed juniper berries and reduce by half.
  4. Combine the demi-glace, salt, blueberries, and jelly/jam in the pot and bring to a simmer.
  5. Add half of the sherry vinegar, taste, and add the remainder if needed.
  6. Serve on top of the venison roast.

*Critical Points

  • Cook time is dependent on the size of the roast, temperature, and time. Adjust the cook time accordingly.
  • Use a temperature chart to hit your desired cook on the roast and always remember that the roast will carry-over cook another 10-15°F after it is removed from the heat.
  • Yams have a high sugar content and will burn very easily, watch them closely.
  • Always taste the food as you are cooking and adjust seasoning as needed.
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