Recipe: Sugar-cured Venison with Roasted Balsamic Strawberries & Red Pepper Relish

This luscious dish makes good use of seasonal produce. You need to make the red pepper relish at least a day ahead.

Words and Recipe: Ruth Pretty Photos: Murray Lloyd

2 x 400g farmed-venison roast (I used Silver Fern Farms)
¼ cup caster sugar
½ teaspoon chopped thyme leaves
1 tablespoon flaky sea salt
½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 teaspoon brandy
½ teaspoon pink peppercorns in brine, squashed with
back of a spoon (optional)
1 teaspoon olive oil
For the roasted balsamic strawberries:
16 large strawberries
1 tablespoon olive oil
3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar


Pat the venison dry with paper towels and trim off any silver skin or sinew. Cut each roast lengthwise in half. Put in a container and set aside. Mix together the sugar, thyme, salt, pepper, brandy and peppercorns if using. Coat the venison all over in this cure mixture and leave at room temperature for two hours or refrigerate overnight.

Preheat oven to 200°C. Thoroughly wipe sugar cure off venison. Heat a chargrill or heavy-based fry pan to medium-high. Smear the oil over the pan, then brown the venison on all sides. Place it on a low-sided baking tray and roast in the oven for 5-6 minutes or until medium-rare (if using a meat thermometer, the temperature will read 57°C).

Remove from oven, cover tray with a tea towel and allow to rest at room temperature. At this stage you can refrigerate the venison for two to three days, or you can proceed with recipe.

To make the roasted balsamic strawberries, heat the oven to 180°C. Put the strawberries on a low-sided roasting tray and drizzle with the oil. Gently toss together to coat, then repeat this process with the vinegar. Bake in the oven for 15-20 minutes, until the strawberries are soft and starting to brown. Remove from oven and cool. Scrape strawberries and the residue on the tray into a container. Use immediately, or cover and store in the fridge for up to three days.

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To assemble the dish, thinly slice venison and lay out onto sharing plates. Intersperse sliced venison with the roasted balsamic strawberries and spoonfuls of red pepper relish. Drizzle over cooking juices from the strawberries and serve. Serves 8.

700g red peppers, deseeded and thinly sliced
1 1/2 tablespoons salt
190ml white vinegar
100g finely diced onion
225g sugar
1/3 cup roughly chopped mint leaves
1 teaspoon yellow or brown mustard seeds
Pinch cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon dill seeds
1 1/2 tablespoons cornflour

Put the sliced red pepper in a bowl, sprinkle with the salt and barely cover with cold water. Leave overnight in the fridge, then drain well. Rinse under cold water and drain again.

Put the red pepper and all the other ingredients, except the cornflour, in a large saucepan over medium heat. Bring to the boil, reduce the heat to low. Mix the cornflour with two tablespoons cold water, then add to the bubbling relish. Stir well and simmer 2-3 minutes. Ladle the relish into hot, sterilized jars and seal. Store in the fridge for up to 6 months. Makes 1kg.

NZ Life and Leisure This article first appeared in NZ Life & Leisure Magazine.
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