The man who got me into hunting, former St. Paul Pioneer Press outdoor writer Chris Niskanen inspired this dish. “I recently shot a 200-pound whitetail (field-dressed) and would like simple recipes on fixing it,” he wrote. This recipe is reasonably simple, but elegant all at the same time.
It’s of Belgian origin and combines the classic flavors of juniper, rosemary and sour cream you see a lot in Northern Europe. I mostly do it with venison backstrap, but would work equally well with filet mignon, pork loin, a bear or deer roast, and possibly even a lighter meat like pheasant. Play around with it.
Belgian Venison Medallions
- 1 1/2 pounds venison backstrap or loin
- 3 tablespoons lard or butter
- Pomegranate seeds for garnish (optional)
- 1 shallot, minced
- 1 shot of gin (not the good stuff)
- 1/4 cup demi-glace or reduced beef or venison stock
- 1 teaspoon ground juniper
- 2 teaspoons chopped fresh rosemary
- 1/2 cup sour cream or creme fraiche
- Salt the venison and set aside at room temperature for 30 minutes.
- Heat the lard or butter in a saute pan over medium-high heat and sear the venison on all sides. This should take 3 to 4 minutes on each side of the loin. “Kiss” the other sides of the loin for 1 minute to get a good sear. Remove the venison and let it rest on a cutting board.
- Add the shallot to the pan and saute for 2 minutes, stirring often. Off the heat, add the gin to the pan, then set it back over high heat. Flame it if you’d like. Either way, let it cook down a bit then while deglazing the pan with a wooden spoon. Add the crushed juniper and rosemary, then the demi-glace or reduced stock. Let this cook down over high heat until a spoon dragged through it leaves a trail, about 4 to 5 minutes. Turn off the heat, let any bubbling stop, then whisk in the sour cream. Strain the sauce if you want to.
- To serve, slice the venison loin into medallions. Lay down some sauce, then top with the medallions. You can add some fresh cracked pepper and some pomegranate seeds if you’d like.
Steve Knief says
Made this with an eight inch long , half inch thick slab of neck meat from my Grandsons first buck. He left with the good stuff. Had to wing it because didn’t need as much sauce. Didn’t have gin, used a little brandy instead. It was very good. Had a bit of creamed horseradish with mine. Cook the venison fast and no more than medium rare.
I made this for Valentine’s dinner, with good gin (because that’s what we had on hand). These were very different flavors for us, but the sauce was very well-balanced, and we loved it!
Jason Hedlund says
This is one of the first recipes I can remember making from this website. It’s absolutely incredible. Highly recommend.
Great recipe !
I am from Belgium. We usually do this kind of sauce with kidneys.
Audrey Wensveen says
Absolutely classically delicious! I cooked a rack of venison to 55C (sous vide) , seared if off and served with the sauce. A beautiful recipe that impresses!
Paul Myles says
Got my first deer of 2018 this week. This recipe is going to do the honours!
Mike brennan says
Fixed it tonight, using the amazing Terroir gin from St. George distillery. That is the perfect gin for something like this… so piney, woodsy, mossy.
Jim Hilgendorf says
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 .
This dish has become one of our favorites and one to show off with! Thanks!!!
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!
Rick McInturff (@reverserick) says
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 https://missmollysmeatrub.com/shop/fall2014.html
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!
Dan F says
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.
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.
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.
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.