Here’s a recipe from Chef Adam Lambert of Bar Cento. He made this dish, which highlights the sweet and mild nature of Ohio white-tailed deer, at a butchering class held in collaboration with Fresh Fork Market. We’re providing Chef Lambert’s recipe, which is geared toward professional kitchens or ambitious home cooks. We’re also including notes on how this can be prepared in any home kitchen.
- 2 pounds trimmed venison loin (also called backstrap) or tenderloin
- 1 1⁄2 cups extra-virgin olive oil
- 2 ounces gin
- 16 juniper berries
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 citrus fruit, peeled and cut into segments (supremes) Chef Lambert suggests bergamot, and blood orange and grapefruit work equally well.
- 1⁄2 cup finely diced sweet onion
- 1 1⁄2 cups finely diced fennel bulb
- 1⁄2 cup dry white wine
- 2 ounces Pernod
- 1⁄2 cup water
- 1⁄2 cup sugar
- Lemon zest
- 1 orange, sliced with peel
- 2 cups simple syrup (1 cup sugar dissolved into 1 cup water)
- Salt for seasoning
- Coarse salt, like Maldon, for finishing
- Immersion circulator
- Vacuum sealing machine
- Vacuum bag
Season venison with salt and place in vacuum bag with 1⁄2 cup of olive oil, 2 ounces of gin, 1 juniper berry, and 1 bay leaf. Place bag and contents under vacuum and let marinate for 24 hours. Set immersion circulator to 120° and place the venison package in the water bath for 45 minutes. When the time is up, take the bag out and let it stand for 10 minutes to reabsorb liquids, then place in an ice bath immediately.
While the venison is cooking and cooling, place the remaining 1 cup of olive oil in a sauce pan on low heat. Add remaining 15 juniper berries to the oil and leave to infuse over a very light simmer for about an hour or until you are satisfied with the flavor. Strain juniper berries and reserve oil, preferably in a squeeze bottle.
For the chutney, sweat the 1⁄2 cup of diced onion with 11⁄2 cups of diced fennel bulb. Once transparent, deglaze with 1⁄2 cup dry white wine, 2 ounces of Pernod, and 1⁄2 cup water. Add 1⁄2 cup sugar and cook down until desired consistency and flavor has been reached. Finish with a bit of lemon zest and salt.
For the candied orange, blanch the orange slice in simple syrup for 30 seconds and then remove and let cool. Repeat this process a few more times until the orange becomes translucent and the rind is no longer bitter.
To compose, thinly slice venison and lay out on a chilled plate. Cut citrus segments into thirds and garnish along with fennel chutney. Cut the candied orange into a dice and garnish with it as well. Finish the plate with a bit of juniper oil and a bit of coarse salt.
For the home cook without access to an immersion circulator or vacuum sealer, marinate the venison in a zip-top bag. After marinating, the venison can then be quickly pan seared, grilled, or even plunged into boiling water for a short time as long as it remains rare. As for the juniper oil, citrus, chutney, and candied orange garnishes, they’re lovely, but finishing the rare, thinly sliced meat with a little olive oil, salt, and lemon juice is pretty great too.