How can you turn pork into venison? Simple, just make your own bacon and then trade it for other tasty stuff. It works like a charm. In this case we were lucky enough to get a full venison loin (or backstrap, if you want to use hunter’s vernacular) in exchange for a slab of bacon. This is a trade we will make any time. Good venison is a treat. We don’t have it often, but when we do it’s a special occasion.
How do you cook venison loin? Carefully and never past medium rare. This is a perfect use for a sous-vide cooker. We cooked our loin sous-video at 130 degrees for about 2 hours and then seared it in butter. If you don’t have a sous-vide cooker (and most people don’t) just brown the venison in a hot skillet, turning and basting often, until you get to rare to medium rare. It doesn’t take long. And remember to rest the meat after cooking to keep the juices in.
Now for a sauce. We just picked our Bing cherries from the orchard, so it wasn’t a hard call for us to combine the cherries and venison in a dish. It was, however, hard to find a recipe for fresh cherries and venison (plenty of recipes for game and dried cherries). But we did find a good Venison with Cumberland Sauce recipe at Hunter, Angler, Gardener, Cook (if cooking with game the website to visit, IMHO) and decided to riff on that.
Cumberland sauce is a classic combination of currants (or other red fruit), port wine, citrus, beef stock (or demi-glace) and spices. Since we were using brightly flavored cherries, we omitted the citrus and went with shallots, thyme, a good dose of black pepper and finished with a bunch of butter (why not?). We also had heard of Norwegian-inspired recipes that combine goat cheese and venison, so we decided to crumble on goat cheese to add tang and creamy notes to the dish.
And the dish was a big success. The venison was medium-rare with deep, but clean flavor and fine texture (like Filet Mignon, but with way more flavor). The sauce was sweet from the port wine, with rich flavors from the beef stock and butter, but the tart notes of the cherries and goat cheese and the kick of black pepper kept the dish in balance. The creamy goat cheese also added a welcome extra textural dimension. Yum. We like the sauce so much we will try it on lamb and pork as well.
Meanwhile, we will be curing more bacon and hope we can
bribe tempt more hunters into trades. Maybe they will trade for some home-made jams or pickles as well…hmmm…
Venison Loin With Cherry Cumberland Sauce and Goat Cheese:
(Adapted, somewhat, from Hunter, Angler, Gardener, Cook)
Notes before you start:
– You can use beef stock or demi-glace in the sauce. The demi-glace will be richer and is worth using if you can get it. Otherwise, just allow 5-10 minutes of extra time to reduce the beef stock.
– You MUST trim any silver skin from the venison loin to assure easy cooking and eating. It is easy to find and trim. Don’t skip this step.
(serves-6, depending on the size of the loin)
- 1, 1 1/2 pound venison loin (backstrap), trimmed of fat and silver skin
- Kosher salt
- Freshly ground black pepper
- Butter, clarified butter or high-heat oil for browning
Cherry Cumberland Sauce:
- 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 1 shallot, minced
- 1/2 cup port wine
- 1/4 cup demi-glace (or 1 cup beef stock / broth)
- 3-4 sprigs fresh thyme
- 3/4 cup sweet cherries (like Bing or Brooks), pitted and halved
- Kosher salt
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 4 oz. soft goat cheese, like Chevre, for garnish
- If cooking sous-vide, set your cooker to 130 degrees. Cut the loin into 4 pieces, season and seal in bag(s) and cook for 1 1/2 to 2 hours. Remove the venison from the bags. Then sear with butter in a skillet over medium-high heat, basting frequently until all sides are brown. 2-3 minutes. Remove the venison from the heat, place it on a cutting board and let it rest for 5-10 minutes.
- If cooking in the skillet, place the skillet over medium-high heat. Season the venison loin. When hot, add butter to the pan and cook the venison, basting frequently until all sides are brown, 8-10 minutes, or until medium rare (internal temp 128-130, best to use an instant thermometer here). Remove the venison from the pan, place it on a cutting board and let it rest for 5-10 minutes.
Cherry Cumberland Sauce:
- Place a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add 1 tablespoon of the butter, the shallots and a pinch of salt. Sweat the shallots until they soften, 2-3 minutes. Then add the port, bring to a boil and let it reduce by half, 3-4 minutes. Add the demi-glace and thyme, stir and let it boil for 1-2 minutes (if using stock, cook for 8-10 minutes so it reduces and thickens).
- Grab the cherries and squeeze them over the pan to release some juice, then place the cherries in the pan and cook for another 2-3 minutes. Lightly crush the cherries with the back of a wooden spoon.
- To finish the sauce, slowly whisk in the remaining 3 tablespoons of butter, 1 tablespoon at a time, until the sauce thickens. Remove the thyme sprigs. Taste, add salt and a few big grinds of black pepper.
- For service, cut the venison loin into medallions and serve with the sauce. Garnish with big dollops of goat cheese and an extra grind of black pepper.
- Loin of Venison Recipe (greatbritishchefs.com)
- Roast Venison Recipe With Snails & Mushroom Purée (greatbritishchefs.com)
- Venison Swiss Steak (lifefoodhappiness.com)
- Whole Roasted Cauliflower with Goat Cheese Dipping Sauce (everythingsucculent.com)
- Porcini Mushroom, Leek, and Goat Cheese Ravioli Filling (fromthebartolinikitchens.com)
I’m embarrassed to say that as much as I love trying all kinds of meat, I have yet to really try venison. This looks like a great preparation though. The butter searing is a great compliment to the sous-vide cooking. The cherries are so unique though, but I bet they make for a great glaze.
Thanks- the fresh cherries add a lovely sweet / tart flavor and the texture is also very good. Worth a try on any red meat. (but venison is worth trying).
I’ve never made Cumberland sauce.
Why do you have season the venison after cooking sous-vide rather than before?
P.S. The photo of the plated dish looks amazing!
Thx- and we seasoned before- will fix the recipe. You do need to add pepper to the sauce at the end…
That sauce sounds to die for… may try on pork loin or a nice piece of beef tenderloin, since we don’t have deer hunters in the family!
Thx- it should work on pork or beef just as well…it is very tasty.
This sounds absolutely divine…..
Thx.Very tasty and also fun to make..
My gosh – I looked at this and my tummy clenched and my mouth started to water!! LOL! I’ve seen very old fashioned recipes for a Cumberland sauce but have never had it, and I love the cherry idea. And the goat cheese – genius! I’m off to rummage in the kitchen now for something to eat, but somehow, no matter what I come up with, I know it won’t be this meal….*sighs*
Thanks. The cumberland sauce is something we will revisit. It is very good but also very easy- and using fresh fruit in season makes it fun to play with. The credit really goes to Hunter Angler Gardener Cook who turned us onto the recipe…
have always wondered what a good end temp for venison is. Thinking 130F is lower than what I’ve done, but yours looks good. And I LOVE how you magically transformed one type of red meat for another. California really is a magical place 😉
Thanks. We like rare-ish here (particularly with tenderloins). I think at 134-35 you get more pink but still juicy….also the pasteurization temp is 131 so going above that is also a good idea if you are concerned on the safety side…
And yes, California is amazing (even to northeastern expats).
YUM, this sounds amazing! I’ve only ever had venison in restaurants but now I really want to get my hands on some to cook at home.
Hi. It is worth trying, particularly the backstrap / loin. Just treat it like a beef tenderloin. The meat has a great flavor and almost no fat….
I’m now picturing you in a Magician’s cape with a wand and hat. Amazing! The photos are really amazing and make my mouth water.
Oh my. Thanks. Team effort with Carolyn on this one, especially the photos. But a very fun project. The kids enjoyed the venison as well- so we now have one more thing to serve them…
Yum! What time is dinner?
Any time we get another venison loin… 😉
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