By Debbie Crompton
4 sprigs thyme leaves, stripped of their stalks
5 juniper berries
Salt and pepper
Extra virgin olive oil
800g Venison Loin or Denver Leg, portioned into 4 x 200g steaks
1 onion finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, peeled and finely chopped
1 glass Aurum Mathilde Pinot Noir
150g butter, diced
Place juniper berries in a mortar and pestle with the thyme and a generous pinch of salt and pepper. If you don’t have a mortar and pestle, bash the juniper berries with a rolling pin, add to the thyme leaves, salt and pepper, and chop all together on a board. Add enough extra virgin olive oil to make a “Pesto-like” consistency. It doesn’t need to be as smooth though. Add the venison steaks to this mixture and mix well to coat on all sides. Heat a frying pan till almost smoking and add the steaks. Allow them to brown on each side then turn down the heat until cooked medium rare. Take care with the pan temperature; you want to create a nice brown colour and flavor without burning or scorching the juniper thyme rub. Remove from pan and rest.
Add a splash of olive oil to the pan and add the chopped onions and garlic. Cook gently until they are soft. Increase the heat and add the wine to the cooked onions and garlic. Use a wooden spoon to scrape the pan and lift off any browned bits and sediment. It will all add great flavor to the sauce. Let the wine bubble and reduce down at least by half. Add the blueberries, and let the sauce bubble again – this time not as hard – for around three minutes. The last step is to add the butter. The butter will slightly thicken and enrich the sauce, add it a knob at a time while the sauce is simmering gently. Once the butter is in, the sauce should be served, so wait until you are ready before this stage.
Slice the rested Venison and arrange on warmed plates. Spoon the blueberry juniper sauce over. Suggested accompaniments:
Seasonal greens, pre-blanched and quickly sautéed in butter such as a mixture of peeled broad beans, green beans, broccoli or asparagus.
A seasonal gratin: Celeriac or Potato or Parsnip in winter, new season baby potatoes in summer, etc