Roasted rack of venison and shallots with dried-cranbery gravy

Venison is best served rare to medium, as it is a very lean meat that toughens and develops a strong flavor if overcooked. The following recipe may also be made with a 2 ½-pound beef fillet.

Yield: Serves six

Ingredients

  • an 8 to 11 rib (3 to 4 lb) rack of venison, halved to form two 4 to 6 rib racks and any tough membranes trimmed
  • 2 lbs shallots, trimmed and peeled
  • 2 tbsp vegetable oil plus additional for rubbing the venison
  • ½ cup beef broth
  • ½ cup red wine
  • ½ cup water
  • 1 tbsp juniper berries (available in the spice section of supermarkets), crushed lightly
  • 2 tsp cornstarch dissolved in 2 tbsp water
  • 1/3 cup dried cranberries (available at specialty foods shops)
  • 1 tbsp balsamic vinegar

 

Preparation:

Preheat the oven to 425°F. In a roasting pan large enough to hold the venison racks without crowding them, toss the shallots with 2 tablespoons of the oil and salt and pepper to taste and roast them in the middle of the oven, stirring occasionally, for 25 to 30 minutes or until they are golden. Pat the venison dry, season it with salt and pepper and rub it generously with the additional oil. Heat a large heavy skillet over high heat until it is hot and in it sear the venison on all sides. Push the shallots to the sides of the roasting pan, stand the venison racks in the middle of the pan, allowing the bones to rest together and roast the mixture in the middle of the oven for 23 minutes or until a meat thermometer registers 125°F (for rare meat). Transfer the racks with shallots to a platter and let stand, covered loosely with foil, for 15 minutes. To the roasting pan add the broth, the wine, the water and the juniper berries. Simmer the mixture, scraping up the brown bits for 5 minutes. Strain the mixture through a fine sieve set over a small saucepan, whisk the cornstarch mixture, and add it to the saucepan with the cranberries, the vinegar, and salt and pepper to taste. Simmer the gravy, whisking for 5 minutes. Cut the venison into individual chops and serve it with the shallots and the gravy.

Sara Lydiatt