GRILLED VENISON WITH GOAT CHEESE, BACON, AND BLACKBERRY SAUCE
SUBMITTED BY TIM BOUSUM OF IPSWICH, MA. HE GETS HIS COPY OF EDIBLE BOSTON AT APPLETON FARMS OR RUSSELL ORCHARDS IN IPSWICH.
PHOTOS BY MICHAEL PIAZZA / STYLED BY CATRINE KELTY
As a hunter, each fall my goal is to bag a deer (or 2-3 if all goes well!) to stock the freezer with the world's best (and most sustainable) protein. Of course the liver and tiny—yet supple—tenderloins are always cooked fresh, which leaves roasts, steaks and burger in need of creative ways to prepare them so we get through all the meat before the next season begins. In a good year, this may mean my family and I get to enjoy prime cuts of venison even in the late summer months as October’s opening day approaches. To give the venison a lighter summery touch, nothing is better than adding ripe, August blackberries to my usual game sauce recipe which goes so well with grilled venison loin; in the winter, I use my wife’s homemade beach plum jelly in the sauce, which I pour over herb-crusted venison roast. You could use raspberries, boysenberries, or currants in place of the blackberries, and the sauce is also delicious spooned over pan-seared duck breast if you don’t have access to a venison loin. Ahh summer: delicious deer, and recipes that give me the itch to climb back into a treestand.
Blackberry Game Sauce:
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 shallot, minced
2 tablespoons blackberry jam (can substitute current or boysenberry jelly)
¼ cup brandy, cognac, Crown Royal, or other liqueur
½ cup red wine
1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves (or ½ teaspoon dried thyme)
1 teaspoon cornstarch dissolved in 2 tablespoons water (only if you need to thicken sauce)
kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
½ pint fresh blackberries
Melt the butter in small saucepan over medium low heat. Add the shallot and sauté until tender, about 5 minutes. Add jam, brandy, wine and thyme, stirring until the jelly is melted and the alcohol has burned off, and if the sauce seems too thin, add the cornstarch slurry and simmer until thickened. Season with salt and pepper, to taste and stir in the berries off the heat. Set aside.
Grilled Venison Loin:
1 venison loin, about 1½ pounds
kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1 small log goat cheese, at room temperature
2 tablespoons blackberry jelly
2 tablespoons fresh thyme leaves
1 pound sliced bacon
Season the venison loin liberally with salt and pepper at least 20 minutes before you plan to cook it. Light a charcoal grill or preheat a gas grill to medium-high.
Using an offset spatula, spread the goat cheese evenly over the top of the loin. Spoon the blackberry jelly over the goat cheese and sprinkle with the thyme leaves.
Wrap the loin in a layer of bacon, securing with toothpicks as needed (wrapping the bacon on the bias or in a herringbone fashion will help with carving later).
On the grill, the goal is to get the bacon crispy and the internal temperature of the venison no higher than 125°—an instant-read thermometer is your friend here. Turn the loin often and watch for flare-ups from the fat. Total cooking time should be between 15 and 25 minutes.
When the internal temperature has reached 125°F, remove from the grill and allow to rest for 10-12 minutes before slicing. Serve with the Blackberry Game Sauce spooned over the top.
Sarah Blackburn is a home cook, recipe developer, vegetable gardener and managing editor of Edible Boston. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org