Venison tenderloins

Venison tenderloins

A Year of Practiculture
Rohan Anderson & Kate Berry

Some people say they’ve cooked venison and it ended up as tough as an old boot. Well, it’s a wild meat and, just like a little wild bunny, it needs a bit of love in the kitchen. I cook more with wild meat than I do farmed meat, so I guess I’m used to it, but if you take up this approach to cooking with wild food or you just want to give it a try, then take the time to listen up and you’ll get a mega-result.

I cut this tenderloin out from under the spine after I’ve gutted the deer. It’s a muscle that probably doesn’t do much of the heavy lifting, so it can end up pretty tender when cooked using this method. The flavour is rich, I won’t deny that, but don’t be put off, try it. You may fall in love with venison as I have. It’s a more exciting option than beef – that’s my take on it.

The key to this meal is the onion jus or gravy. It’s a bitch to make, but I reckon it adds something really special to what’s in reality a very simple meal. Meat on mash with a gravy – you can’t get any simpler than that. But the flavours … Goosebumps!

This is one of those dinners to cook for a lover. Serve with good pinot, a warm fire and the mood for lovin’.


Quantity Ingredient
2 venison tenderloins
salt, to taste
pepper, to taste
3 tablespoons olive oil
2-3 onions, sliced
5 whole cloves
1 teaspoon juniper berries
4-5 potatoes, peeled and halved
2-3 carrots, peeled
100g real butter
1 tablespoon full-cream real cow’s milk
50g parmigiano reggiano, grated
1 tablespoon fino sherry


  1. Take the tenderloins out of the fridge to bring them to room temperature. Trim away any obvious sinew, season all sides with salt and pepper, and set aside.
  2. Heat about half the olive oil (a little glug) in a cast-iron frying pan over low–medium heat. Throw in the onion, whole cloves and juniper berries, and cook, making sure the temp never gets too hot. As the pan starts to dry up, add a dash of hot water, allowing that to reduce before adding a splash of water again, never letting the onions get dry and burnt or drowned in water. The idea is to get the onion sweated down until it’s almost a brown sauce.
  3. Meanwhile, boil the potato and carrots for 20 minutes, or until soft. Drain then transfer to a large mixing bowl and drop in about three-quarters of the butter (a few knobs), which will start to soften and melt straight away in the hot veg. Add a splash of milk and make a creamy mash using a potato masher. Grate in the parmesan and mix it through, then season to taste.
  4. Preheat the oven to 200°C and heat a chargrill pan with the remaining olive oil over medium–high heat on the stove top. Seal the tenderloin on the chargrill pan for about 2 minutes each side, then wrap in aluminium foil and bake for 10 minutes.
  5. In the meantime, strain the onion through a metal sieve, pushing it through with a dessertspoon until your arm and hand feel like they’re about to fall off. Scrape the underside of the sieve, as this is where the good stuff with all the flavour has been pushed through. Discard the bits of onion remaining in the sieve.
  6. Return the sauce to the frying pan over medium heat, then add the remaining knob of butter, a splash of sherry, and a pinch of salt and pepper.
  7. Once the venison is cooked, remove it from the oven and set it on a plate to rest for 5–10 minutes.
  8. Slice the venison and arrange on top of the mash on a long plate. Drizzle over the rich gravy and serve.
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