Saturday, January 21, 2012

Time to Get Wild: Seared Venison Tenderloin with Blackberry Sauce

A few weeks ago, my Daddy gave me some venison (aka: deer) tenderloin and backstrap from his November hunting trip. I had never cooked venision in my life, but I was eager to give it a try! Since this meat was from my Daddy? I wanted to do it proud. The meat hung out in my freezer until last weekend, while I searched for just the right recipe to use. In the end, I adapted a fantastic recipe for pork tenderloin with a tangy blackberry sauce. It worked out perfectly!

If you've never had venison, don't be leery of it. Though some venison can be tough and "gamey" tasting, this meat was mild and fork tender. From my research, I discovered that removing any silverskin membrane on the outside of the venison reduces the gamey taste...and cooking it no more than medium will help keep it moist and tender. I did both of these steps, with excellent results. If you can't get your hands on some venison, simply sub in 1 lb. of pork tenderloin for the venison tenderloin. 

Seared Venison Tenderloin 
with Blackberry Sauce
adapted from Better Homes and Gardens

Step 1:  Add the following marinade ingredients in a bowl: 1/4 cup olive oil, 1/3 cup white wine, 3 tbs. red wine vinegar, 2 tbs. grainy Dijon mustard, 2 tbs. soy sauce, 2 cloves grated or finely chopped garlic, 1 tsp. finely chopped rosemary, 2 tbs. finely chopped shallot, a pinch of red pepper flakes, and a few grinds black pepper. Whisk to combine, then add 1 lb. venison tenderloin. Refrigerate for about four hours...or overnight.

Step 2:  Add 2 tbs. olive oil to a large skillet. Put heat on med-high for five minutes. Remove the venison from the marinade and pat dry with paper towels. Season with salt and pepper on both sides. Sear the venison for 4 minutes per side, then remove to a plate to rest while you make the sauce. This will allow the juices to redistribute nicely.

Step 3:  Add the reserved marinade to a small saucepan over med-high heat. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to medium. Add 1/3 cup seedless blackberry jam, 1 chicken bouillon cube, and 1 small container blackberries. Simmer for about 10 minutes, until the berries are soft and the sauce is reduced by about half. 

Step 4:  I opted to serve my venison with simple creamy grits. Make grits as the package directs, but use half chicken broth and half milk in place of the water. When they grits have coked for about five minutes, add: 1 tsp. dried thyme, 1 tsp. garlic powder, 1/3 cup parmesan, and 2 tbs. butter. Stir well to combine. Place the grits on a serving platter top with the venison tenderloin, and then pour the blackberry sauce on top.

We thoroughly enjoyed this meal...the venison was perfectly tender and juicy! The blackberry sauce has so much flavor, and it really compliments the venison. You could also serve with mashed potatoes, but the creamy grits combined really nicely with the venison. Now that my venison tenderloin is gone, I plan to make this recipe again using pork tenderloin as well. This recipe is simple enough to whip up for a weekend dinner for two, but it's plenty fancy to serve to company as well. 

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