Leg of Venison with Cider-Baked Apples, Red Chard, and Cranberry Sauce

Total Time:
2 hr 27 min
45 min
12 min
1 hr 30 min

4 servings

  • Venison:
  • 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
  • Chard:
  • 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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