Venison is a flavoursome, lean meat and in this recipe I’ve coupled it with native pepperberries, sweet-and-sour pickled cherries and some creamy labne. As with all wild proteins, venison barely carries a lick of fat on it, so I recommend cooking the loin as rare as you can handle.
To make the pickled cherries, pack the cherries into a sterilised jar (see page 23) along with the bay leaves, cinnamon and cloves.
Combine the water, vinegar and sugar in a pot, stir and bring it to the boil to dissolve the sugar. Pour the hot syrup over the cherries, seal the jar while the pickling liquid is still hot and set aside to cool.
Season the venison loin with salt.
Crush the pepperberries or peppercorns in a mortar and pestle to make a coarse powder. Tip the crushed pepperberries onto a plate and add a little olive oil to help the spice to stick to the meat. Roll the loin in the pepperberries until evenly coated.
Heat a frypan over a medium–high heat, add a little cooking oil and sear the loin, turning every minute or so to ensure that the meat is coloured all over. After 4 minutes, remove the loin from the pan and let it rest for 5 minutes or so.
Make a salad with the rocket, labne and pickled cherries. To serve, slice the loin into 5mm slices and serve with the salad, with extra pickled cherries decanted on the side.
Recipe from the River Cottage Australia cookbook by Bloomsbury ($45). Available in all good book stores from April 1 or bloomsbury.com/au/river-cottage-australia-9781408858387
Paul West will be touring Australia throughout April and May. Event details here: bloomsbury.com/au/superpage/paul-west-launching-the-river-cottage-australia-cookbook
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