Venison Steaks with a Juniper and Thyme Pan Sauce

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I’ll eat this dish any time of year, but it’s especially satisfying as the weather starts to cool off (I use the term “cool off” loosely and optimistically). A solid fall and winter dish for sure. And a straightforward way to a fast but elevated venison dinner.

Using wild game stock to make a quick pan sauce will enhance your basic dishes by an order of magnitude. It’s also a powerful weapon in your culinary arsenal due to the fact that it can be extremely versatile for the ingredients in season or on hand. I generally use ham steaks for this sort of recipe, but backstrap works well, of course. If using backstrap, roast it whole (or half) then slice after it has rested.

1 shallot (or onion and/or garlic), minced

½ C red wine

1 C venison stock

8 juniper berries, smashed

1 tsp dried thyme, or 3 tsp if using fresh

Kosher salt

Cracked black pepper

Olive oil

  1. Salt and pepper the steaks.
  2. Cook the steaks to medium rare in a skillet with a little olive oil (high heat, about 3 min each side).
  3. Remove the steaks and set aside to rest.
  4. If necessary, let the pan cool a bit then add more oil.
  5. Saute the shallot over medium heat about 2-3 minutes.
  6. Add the wine to deglaze the pan and reduce by ½ while scraping the pan with a wooden spoon.
  7. Add the stock, juniper berries, and thyme and simmer until the liquid is reduced to about ⅓ cup.
  8. Strain, if desired, and salt and pepper to taste.
  9. Optional: add 1-2 Tbsp cold butter and stir or whisk in for a richer, thicker sauce.

Some additional ingredients to consider experimenting with:

  • Balsamic or Red Wine Vinegar, Brandy, Berry Flavored Liqueurs, Port Wine, Cream
  • Marjoram, Rosemary, Bay Leaf, Mustard, Horseradish
  • Mushrooms
  • Cherries, Red Currants, Apples, Pears
  • Jellies (e.g., Red Currant or Blackberry)

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