woodfired venison steak

Venison Steak with Sloe Gin, Juniper and Thyme


This is a classic Burn’s Night dish, or delicious on any Autumn evening when venison and roots are well in season and last year’s batch of sloe gin is ready for opening. Don’t waste the marinade – transform it into a delicious rich Sloe Gin Butter Sauce. Preparation

Serves 6

Allow 3 hours, or overnight to marinade

  • 6 x 175g venison fillet steaks

For the marinade and sauce

  • 10 juniper berries
  • 3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 100g shallots, finely chopped
  • 1 tbsp freshly chopped thyme leaves
  • 1/2 tsp freshly ground pepper
  • 200ml Sloe gin
  • 200ml good red wine

Additional ingredients for the Sloe Gin Butter Sauce

  • 200ml good red wine
  • 50g chilled butter, cut into small pieces
  • sea salt

For grilling and serving

  • olive oil for brushing
  • sea salt to marinate the venison

Toast the juniper berries in a heated dry frying pan or skillet, shaking to prevent burning, until just lightly toasted and aromatic. Blitz to a coarse powder in your spice grinder or grind in a pestle and mortar. In a small bowl, mix the ground juniper with the garlic, shallots, thyme leaves and pepper.

Place your steaks on a plate or tray and sprinkle the dry marinade evenly over both sides of the meat. Transfer the steaks to a strong plastic bag. Place the bag in a bowl and pour the sloe gin and red wine around the meat. Tie the top and give it a good massage. Refrigerate overnight or for at least 3 hours.

Drain the marinade off the venison steaks and brush off and discard any stray bits of shallot. Pat the steaks dry with kitchen paper and brush lightly with olive oil. Season with salt as desired.

To Make the Sauce

Pour the strained marinade into a small saucepan. Add the extra 200ml of red wine. Place over a medium to high heat, bring to the boil, skimming off any scum and reduce to a quarter of the volume. Take off the heat. Hold back on the final stage of adding the butter until after you have barbecued your venison steaks, as the finished sauce does not hold well. When you are ready to serve, heat up the reduction and adding one small piece of butter at a time, whisk to thicken and emulsify the sauce. Season to taste.

Wood Roasting

Preheat the oven to 280-340℃. Add a small log and blow with a blow pipe until it ignites. This will boost the temperature and give a naked flame rolling off the wood, which you need to sear the meat and get things going quickly. Put a strong metal oven tray or skillet in the oven.

Keep your eye on the tray/skillet as it will become very hot within seconds. Place the steaks directly onto the hot tray. Allow space between your steaks so that the heat of the oven can reach the tops and sides of the steaks. They will sear on the under side. Roast for a total of 4-5 minutes. There’s no need to turn them.

Cook times vary widely depending on the thickness of the cut. Note that venison fillet steak is at its best cooked medium rare; overcooked, they become dry and grainy.

We recommend using a digital probe to check the core temperature of your steak. You are looking for a temperature of approximately 50-54℃ to give you a nice pink steak.

Final Preparation

Allow to rest for 3-4 minutes covered with a double layer of foil, remembering to leave a hole for steam to escape. In the meantime, finish the sauce as described above.

To Serve

Serve individual steaks with a spoonful of the sauce.