Stuffed Venison Tenderloin with Blackberry Sauce Recipe

Give venison a try with this delicately prepared tenderloin.

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by AdobeStock/Maksim Toome



    • 2 tenderloins, trimmed
    • Buttermilk
    • 4 Tbsp unsalted butter, divided
    • 2 Tbsp shallot, minced
    • 5 cloves garlic (2 cloves minced, 3 cloves smashed)
    • 1-1/2 cups wild mushrooms mixture (use more earthy-tasting mushrooms, like morel and oyster, to complement the meat and balance the flavor)
    • Rosemary; 1 tsp minced, 2–3 sprigs whole
    • 3/4 tsp salt, divided
    • 3/4 tsp pepper, divided
    • 4 Tbsp chicken stock
    • 1 cup baby spinach
    • 12 juniper berries

    • Blackberry Sauce:
    • 5 Tbsp butter, unsalted, divided
    • 1/4 cup shallots, thinly sliced
    • 2 cloves garlic, minced
    • 2/3 cup chicken stock
    • 2/3 cup Cabernet Sauvignon
    • 3 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
    • 3 Tbsp brown sugar, packed
    • 1 Tbsp sage, minced
    • 1/4 tsp salt
    • 1/4 tsp white pepper
    • 2 cups blackberries, rinsed

    Wild Rice Cakes:

    • 1 cup wild rice (we used a blend of white, brown, wild, and red rice)
    • 1-1/2 cups vegetable stock
    • 2-1/2 Tbsp unsalted butter, divided
    • 1 tsp salt (we used black truffle salt), divided
    • 3 cloves garlic, minced
    • 1 cup leeks, trimmed, cored, cleaned, and minced
    • 1 cup raw carrots, shredded
    • 3/4 cup shiitake mushrooms, sliced
    • 1/4 cup oyster mushrooms, diced
    • 1/2 tsp white pepper
    • 1 tsp baking powder
    • 1/3 cup flour, plus 2 Tbsp, divided
    • 2 large eggs, whisked
    • 1-1/2 cups panko Olive oil


    • Venison:

      Place the tenderloins in a shallow container. Cover the meat completely in buttermilk, moving the meat around to ensure that the buttermilk is covering all sides of the meat. Cover, and place the meat in the refrigerator until you are ready to use it, for at least 1 hour. The buttermilk will draw out any “gamy” taste from the meat.
    • Add 2 Tbsp butter to a sauté pan on medium heat. Add shallots and 2 cloves minced garlic until they start to soften but not brown. Add the mushrooms, minced rosemary, 1/4 tsp salt, and 1/4 tsp pepper to the pan, and sauté until the liquid has evaporated. Add the chicken stock and spinach, and cook down until the liquid is gone, but not so much that the spinach sticks to the pan (in other words, watch the pan!). Remove the sauté pan from the stovetop and set aside.
    • Remove the tenderloins from the refrigerator. Lightly rinse the buttermilk from the meat, and discard the buttermilk. Pat the tenderloins dry with a paper towel.
    • Using a mortar and pestle, combine the remaining salt and pepper (1/2 tsp each) along with the juniper berries. Grind down until a powder forms.
    • Lay the meat on a flat surface. Using a sharp knife, cut a slice in the side of the meat from almost one end to another, creating a pocket. Take your time with this step. You want to create a deep pocket, but you do not want to cut straight through to the other side.
    • Stuff each pocket with the mushroom and spinach mixture. Using cooking twine, tress the meat to prevent the stuffing from falling out. Some of the stuffing may come out, and that is fine, but the twine should prevent most of it from falling out. After the meat is tied up, rub the juniper powder all over both pieces, and set the meat aside for a few minutes to bring to room temperature.
    • Set the oven temperature to 375 degrees.
    • Place a cast-iron pan on the stovetop and heat on medium-high. Once the pan is hot, add the remaining 2 Tbsp butter to the pan. Carefully place each piece of tenderloin in the pan, followed by 2–3 whole rosemary sprigs and 3 cloves smashed garlic. The rosemary and garlic will infuse with the butter, adding another layer of flavor. Cook the meat until it browns, just a few minutes, and then flip over to the other side. Immediately transfer the cast-iron pan to the oven and cook for 10 minutes. Medium-rare is the recommended temperature.
    • Remove the meat from the pan and let it rest for at least 5 minutes before cutting. Remove the strings, and slice the meat into 1-inch slices.

      Blackberry Sauce:

    • In a saucepan, melt 1 Tbsp butter on medium heat. Add the shallots and garlic, cooking until soft but not brown.
    • Add the chicken stock and wine, reducing it down to 3 Tbsp of liquid.
    • Add the balsamic vinegar, brown sugar, sage, salt, and pepper. Mix well. Now add the blackberries into the sauce, stir, and cook for about 8 minutes. You will see that the blackberries start to get plump.
    • Remove the pan from the heat, and strain through a sieve. Tap the sieve to make sure you captured all the liquid. Put the silky liquid back in the pan (discard the solids), heat on medium, and slowly add the remaining 4 Tbsp butter with a whisk. 5. Serve with the venison. The flavor will have a slight bitterness, but when paired with the venison, it balances perfectly. Serve with the Wild Rice Cakes.

      Wild Rice Cakes:

    • In a small stockpot, combine rice, stock, 1 Tbsp butter, and 1/2 tsp salt on medium-high heat. Once the liquid starts to boil, drop the heat to simmer, cover, and cook for 15 minutes. Remove from heat and set aside for 10 minutes. The rice will continue to cook.
    • Melt 1 Tbsp butter in a small sauté pan. Add garlic and leeks. Cook until tender and remove from the heat. Add the cooked leek mixture, and the raw carrots, to a large mixing bowl, and set aside.
    • Wipe sauté pan with a paper towel, melt 1/2 Tbsp butter in pan, and add mushrooms. Cook until tender and until there is no liquid in pan. Add mushrooms to the mixing bowl with the other vegetables.
    • Once all the vegetables have cooled, add 1/2 tsp salt, white pepper, baking powder, 1/3 cup flour, and whisked eggs. The mixture should still be wet but able to be held together. Sometimes the vegetables provide additional moisture, so to be able to make this into a patty you may need to add up to 2 additional Tbsp flour.
    • Place the panko in a shallow plate and set aside. Scoop enough mixture into your hands to cover your palm. Shape and flatten until it resembles the size of a crab cake. Gently press the patty into the panko, on all sides. Place the patty on a lined cookie sheet, and repeat until all the mixture is used. Depending on the size, this will make 8 patties. Cover and place in refrigerator for a minimum of 1 hour.
    • Add a layer of olive oil in a large frying pan. Warm the pan on medium heat. Add the rice cakes to the pan and cook each side until they brown. We had to make these twice because we ate the first batch. This is great as a main dinner item, as a base for our Venison with Blackberry Sauce, or as a small plate. More from A Thyme to DiscoverBourbon Oatmeal Raisin Cookies with King Arthur Flour RecipeSaint Arthur's Guinness and Lamb Shepherd's Pie Recipe
      Reprinted with Permission from A Thyme to Discover: Early American Recipes for the Modern Table by Tricia Cohen and Lisa Graves and Published from Skyhorse Publishing. 

    A Thyme to Discover: Early American Recipes for the Modern Table by Tricia Cohen and Lisa Graves dives inside recipe favorites from Presidents, first settlers, and Native Americans. Cohen and Graves share unique recipes with historical flare. Find a recipe and see if you can cook like they used to, with the exception of a grocery store. This excerpt is located in “1620 to 1650’s: A Time of Survival.”

    Venison, when prepared correctly, can taste like the most tender piece of meat. Purchasing venison from a fine purveyor is a necessary part of the process. We know that you all have a great “Uncle Leo” who is an avid hunter; however, just because he is an awesome uncle doesn’t mean he is the best butcher. Venison that is not processed properly will taste gamy and can be almost inedible. If you have never tried venison, spend the few extra dollars to purchase the meat from purveyors like D’Artagnan (D’Artagnan prepares and packages meat in a way that removes the “gaminess” from the taste). It will change the way you view venison.
    dark blue book cover with a square paper image in the center with red and blue text on it and an evergreen twig with red berries