Leg of Venison with Cider-Baked Apples, Red Chard, and Cranberry Sauce
- 2 teaspoons black peppercorns
- 2 teaspoons juniper berries
- 2 teaspoons fennel seeds
- 2 teaspoons dried or fresh thyme leaves
- 1/2 cup olive oil
- 1 (3-pound) boneless venison leg roast or turkey breast, trimmed and tied
- Cranberry sauce:
- 1 cinnamon stick, snapped in half
- 4 teaspoons fennel seeds
- 4 teaspoons whole cloves
- 4 teaspoons black peppercorns
- 4 teaspoons juniper berries
- 6 cups fresh cranberries (about 12 ounces)
- 1 1/2 cups red wine, such as pinot noir
- 1 cup balsamic vinegar
- 2/3 cup sugar
- 2/3 cup undiluted orange juice concentrate
- Cider-baked apples:
- 4 cups apple cider
- 1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
- 6 star anise pods (optional)
- 2 cinnamon sticks
- 4 whole cloves
- 1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
- 1/4 cup unsalted butter
- 4 Braeburn, Jonathan, Gala, or Red Delicious apples, cored and halved lengthwise
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 2 bunches firm red or white chard, stemmed
- 1/4 cup apple cider (or cider residue from baked apples)
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
To prepare venison: In a spice grinder or food processor, grind the peppercorns, juniper berries, fennel seeds, and thyme together. Mix with 4 tablespoons of the olive oil and rub on the venison. Cover and let stand in the refrigerator for 4 to 12 hours. Remove the venison from the refrigerator 1 hour before cooking to come to room temperature.
To make the cranberry sauce: In a food processor or spice grinder, coarsely grind the cinnamon, fennel seeds, cloves, peppercorns, and juniper berries together. Place in a cheesecloth square and tie closed with a string.
In a heavy medium saucepan, combine the cranberries, wine, vinegar, sugar, and orange juice concentrate. Add the spice bundle and bring the liquid to a boil. Reduce the heat to a simmer and cook for 25 to 30 minutes, or until the cranberries are very soft. Remove the spice bundle, pour the sauce into a bowl, and let cool. Use now, or cover and refrigerate for up to 3 days. Bring to room temperature before serving.
While the cranberry sauce cools, make the baked apples: Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. In a medium saucepan, cook the cider, vinegar, star anise, cinnamon, cloves, allspice, and butter for 5 minutes. Place the apples, cut-side down, in a baking pan. Pour the cider mixture over the apples. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, or until semisoft; set aside and keep warm, or reheat just before serving.
To make the venison: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. In a large skillet, heat the remaining 4 tablespoons oil and brown the venison on all sides. Place on a rack in a roasting pan and roast in the oven for about 50 minutes for medium-rare. For medium-done, roast 6 to 7 minutes longer. Remove the venison from the oven, cover loosely with aluminum foil, and let stand for 5 minutes before slicing.
To make the chard: In a large skillet, melt the butter over medium heat. Add the chard and apple cider and saute for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Season with salt and pepper.
To serve, transfer the venison to a platter and arrange the apples beside it. Divide the chard and cranberry sauce between bowls. Serve.
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