- 2 tbsp juniper berries*
- 15 black peppercorns
- 1 tbsp thyme leaves
- 2 (about 400 g each) venison backstraps* or pork fillets
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 2 small fennel bulbs, each cut into 8 wedges, core removed, fronds reserved
- 50 g butter, chopped
- 2 garlic cloves, crushed
- 4 juniper berries, lightly crushed
- 125 ml (½ cup) white wine
Oven temperatures are for conventional; if using fan-forced (convection), reduce the temperature by 20˚C. | We use Australian tablespoons and cups: 1 teaspoon equals 5 ml; 1 tablespoon equals 20 ml; 1 cup equals 250 ml. | All herbs are fresh (unless specified) and cups are lightly packed. | All vegetables are medium size and peeled, unless specified. | All eggs are 55-60 g, unless specified.
Using a mortar and pestle, grind the juniper berries, peppercorns, thyme and 1 tsp sea salt to a fine powder, then rub into venison. Shape each backstrap into a log, secure with kitchen string and refrigerate for 1 hour. Remove 30 minutes before cooking.
To make braised fennel, soak fennel wedges in acidulated water. Melt butter in a heavy-based saucepan over medium heat and cook garlic for 1 minute or until fragrant. Add drained fennel and juniper berries, and cook for 5 minutes or until fennel starts to soften. Add wine and cook for a further 5 minutes or until the fennel is tender. Season and keep warm.
Preheat oven to 200°C. Heat an ovenproof frying pan over medium heat. Rub venison with oil, then cook, turning occasionally, for 5 minutes or until browned. Transfer pan to the oven and cook for 15 minutes for medium, or until cooked to your liking. Transfer to a plate, cover loosely with foil and rest for 10 minutes. Slice venison and serve with braised fennel and fennel fronds.
* Juniper berries are from selected supermarkets and delis.
* Venison is most readily available frozen from selected butchers.
As seen in Feast magazine, Issue 10, pg134.
Photography by John Laurie.