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31 responses to “Venison Medallions with Gin and Juniper”

  1. Peter Arnold

    Why not the good stuff? If the venison is as good as it looks there, it deserves the best. Not the very best, mind you. I’d not go beyond Tanqueray. But I’d not use some of the low grade fusel oils sold as gin.

    You seem to combine both the Japanese and Chinese approaches. One time on a job in Japan I was taken to a Chinese restaurant by my Japanese host. “We Japanese,” he told me, “prepare food to look at. The Chinese prepare food to EAT!”

  2. Christine

    I really miss having access to venison.When I was a kid, hunter friends of our family’s gave us their extra every year. I had a friend in CA who would share or trade with me too. This recipe sounds like a perfect flavor combo- I’m going to file it for next time I get my hands on a nice backstrap.

  3. Reliz

    Gorgeous! Wow. And, “kiss the loin” should be in every recipe or perhaps every butcher’s manual. It’s like getting married to your food: you may now kiss the loin.

  4. Kevin

    Sweet jeebus! Looking at this is torture when the season is closed and the freezer has nothing but ground venison and catfish staring back at you.

  5. Kevin

    Oh, and eleventy bags of okra.

    As to the juniper, where do you obtain it? Do you use the fruit or the leaves? The only common juniper in the SE is Juniperus virginiana(Eastern Redcedar; not a true cedar).

  6. Sarah

    I love the combination of venison and juniper – so classic! This looks perfect.

  7. J.R. Young

    “?1 shot of gin (not the good stuff)”

    I would argue that as long as you pour yourself 1 shot too that it is acceptable to use the good stuff.

    While my freezer is well stocked, most everything now is down to ground or stew meat. The loins always go so fast.

  8. Friday Morning Mashup 2/17/12 | Wired To Hunt

    […] Venison Medallions with Gin and Juniper – Hunter Angler Gardener Cook: Here’s a pretty great looking recipe for some of that venison you have from last fall. If you’re looking to impress that special someone in your life, this might be the ticket! […]

  9. Kevin

    I will give the local Juniper a whirl. If it’s no good, I’ll just take another shot of gin.

    Cue “Gin soaked boy” – Tom Waits

  10. Todd

    Have some moose loin in the freezer and might just give this a rip! Are you using ground juniper berries, or ground juniper greens?

  11. Gale

    Wow, First time here and I already love this site. But I need to learnhow to make my own demi-glaze. LOL kind of rich for my blood!

  12. Peter Daniel

    Try using Dubonnet instead of the gin. Very nice addition. Also very good with
    veal calves liver.

  13. Read Up On It – Februrary 17th, 2012 « Passable

    […] of hunting, Hank Shaw pairs deer with juniper, a bush that many deer are known to eat. Gin anyone? Share this postFacebookTwitterEmailMoreStumbleUponRedditDiggPrintLike this:LikeBe the […]

  14. Alex

    Wow. Did not know you could actually use those berries for much other than gin. We have juniper bushes growing on most of the hilltops in gilmanton NH, so this definitely evokes memories of deer hunting. Mostly vain attempts to track a deer that my uncle was “sure he hit” with dying flashlights, the stuff is a nightmare to track through. The first time I had a shot of gin my first thought was “wow, that tastes like deer hunting.”

  15. Mike

    I just made a batch of your Venison sausage w/porcini mushrooms. Had to use Morels (awww shucks), as porcini never last long here (my pantry that is). The results were sublime. Doubled the amount of gin and mushrooms. Wowie!
    Thanks for the recipie it’s my new favorite.

  16. Mark Coleman

    Cooked this tonite and absolutely loved it. When the rest of the family’s out of town I get to play in the kitchen and this seemed like the perfect game, an initiation into juniper berries. The smell reminds me both of summertime gin and tonics and the eastern red cedars we used to cut down for Christmas trees when I was a kid.

  17. steve

    This sauce is THE PERFECT complement to venison. I cook all the time and have experimented with all kinds of ways to doll up venison, but this recipe is JUST right. It doesn’t hide or mask venisons’ flavor but really enhances it. Bravo.

    PS – I used the good stuff. Don’t cook with anything you wouldn’t drink.

  18. Barbara

    Hank, I stumbled on your site earlier this year in search of recipes for rabbit. Made the hasenpfeffer at that time, which came out perfect. For New Years we were able to get some Venison Tenderloin (we don’t hunt and getting access to game is not always easy). I used this recipe last night and everyone loved it. Thanks for de very detailed instructions on how to prepare/actually cook the various cuts.
    Can’t wait to get our hands on some more game to try another one of your recipes.

  19. Dan

    Dear H.A.G.C.,

    I just cooked this recipe this evening using a backstrap from a small Texas whitetail I shot a week and a half ago.

    I googled “how to cook venison backstrap,” and after sorting through some random recipes, I came across yours.
    I’d just like to thank you, the recipe was wonderful.
    I drank a Spaten Oktoberfest along with it, then afterwards, already having the gin bottle out, had a nice gin martini.


    Austin, Texas

  20. Joan

    I made this as Sunday Night dinner. Doubled the recipe as I had a 2 lb. loin. Used lard I rendered, skipped pomegranate b/c they are now out of season, used quality gin (Junipero) which I think is the way to go, used a slightly less than the double amount of juniper berries, ground at home, used stock vs. demi-glace, used the creme fraiche, and fresh rosemary from the garden, which is still doing well in the NY winter.

    This recipe rocks!!!! The venison was tender and amazing. I am proud of myself for making it. Thanks for offering up something different that doesn’t require a wine marinade.

  21. Stephanie

    This recipe is DELICIOUS! But I made two changes that made it even better: (1) I used good gin. (It’s only a shot. And I don’t keep anything but good gin in the house!) I like Bluecoat gin… then again, I was raised in Philadelphia. lol I also like Maxim’s but that might have too complicated a flavor for this recipe – why waste the flavors of either the gin or the venison with it’s sauce? (2) I love the sauce in this recipe. But the addition of my medieval onion-cherry relish makes it even better! It’s a redaction of a western European relish recipe that our forebears (well, those of you who had ancestors wealthy enough to have eaten venison – my ancestors were peasants, I’m afraid!) ate with their venison. And it’s quite simple to make.

    Reconstitute about a 1/4 cup of dried cherries in about 1/2 cup very warm dark beer or ale. While that’s soaking, thinly slice a medium sized onion (yellow or Spanish – no matter) and sautee it until translucent in a tablespoon or so of sweet butter (unsalted). DO NOT let them caramelize (brown)! As soon as the onions are translucent, add about 3 or 4 teaspoons of brown sugar and half as much really good (really aged) balsamic vinegar, and immediately turn off the heat and remove the pan from the hot burner. Drain your cherries. While they’re draining, to your onions, add a pinch or two of coarsely ground sea salt, and then start cracking – or coarsly grinding – your black pepper right into the onion mixture. Use a good amount of the pepper. Add the drained cherries into your onions and mix thoroughly. Serve this relish with any game or lamb.

    I translated and redacted this recipe from a late-14th century German-language manuscript, but I later found a recipe almost exactly like it in a first-quarter 15th-century Italian language manuscript, so it was obviously common all over western Europe. I haven’t found a French version yet, but I’m sure they had the same recipe if both German- and Italian-speakers had it. And northern Spain may well have had a similar recipe, as well.

  22. Kim

    I’ve made a lot of venison but, I’ve never used juniper berry’s. Apparently they go well together. I’m going to try this recipe.

  23. Dan F

    A VERY good friend stopped by today with two very large venison backstraps… I now have 5 lbs of tenderloin in my freezer. I used this recipe tonight for my first of many meals of that gorgeous buck.

    I fixed a pheasant many years ago with a gin & juniper sauce, and while the sauce was good, it was overpowering to the delicate pheasant meat. But it was an absolutely perfect compliment with the venison. Just enough evergreen to remind me of where my meal had come from.

    I didn’t have sour cream, but I did have sweet cream and buttermilk. I could have made my own by using those, if I had wanted to wait a day, but I didn’t, so I simply combined them into the reduced sauce, and that worked very nicely.

    Served with Brussels sprouts sauteed with my own homemade bacon and maple glazed butternut squash made with syrup tapped by my sister in the U.P. of Michigan.

  24. Sandy

    Delicious! I only wish we had gotten a larger buck, so I could have kept eating! This was the perfect recipe to celebrate the first deer (I hope of many) for our family.

    We used a good quality gin, Jack Pine Gin from a new micro distillery in our state, Northern Latitudes, in Lake Leelanau, MI. We even had a bit of excitement when we swirled the gin, and poof, flames 3′ foot high! That’s some spectacular gin, Mark! Eyebrows still intact, we found the balance between the sweetness of the creme fraiche with the strength of the juniper and rosemary was just right. Although we had less than 1# of venison we loved the sauce to finish off the extra spaetzle. Now on to forging black walnuts for the next recipe, black walnut ice cream. Love the site!

  25. Rick McInturff (@reverserick)

    BAM! Did you just hit me over the head with this one, thanks. I have a farmer that brings me a deer a week here in MD that he takes off his cornfield/soybean property and I’ve got tenderloin and backstrap out the wazzoo! AND I love me some gin- been really getting into Ford’s Gin and we have Green Hat here in the area so a shot or two into the iron skillet will only bring this thing to another level with the juniper berries (from Penzys). Thanks for an awesome idea- we just did a Meat and Likker event last weekend and I did a rosemary-bourbon-cherry reduction sauce with the tenderloin and then a hind roast we marinated with cognac- check it out at

  26. Jen

    My first time cooking venison (gifted to me by my dad), and I happened to have juniper berries on hand, so this recipe was it…. And it was one of the more delicious dishes I’ve ever made! Paired it with a roasted kabocha squash spinach salad and a stout gin martini. You’ve sold me and I’m buying your cookbook!

  27. Megan

    This dish has become one of our favorites and one to show off with! Thanks!!!

  28. Jim Hilgendorf

    I just followed this recipe as written and the results were fantastic!!! The juniper and Rosemary were ground fine in a spice grinder and not strained. Absolutely delicious .

    Thank You,
    Jim hilgendorf

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