Venison From The Rolling Hills Of Carinthia

Carinthia is beautiful.

Picturesque flocks of ducks floating on clear blue lakes, permanent sunshine, dodgy politicians and rolling hills so teeming with deer that you have to be careful not to trip up on one on your way to the bathroom. I draw these scientific observations from the fact that when I go visit family in Carinthia, I can eat venison twice a day and when I leave, I get to take home zip-loc bags labeled “ReTaTa” and “ReFil-E” containing frozen minced venison and venison fillets respectively.

The hypothesis that this may in fact not be due to the abundance of deer in Carinthia but to a family member’s hunting skills has been rendered inplausible by multiple sightings of deer happily munching away veggies in the garden and looking at me sipping my tea completely unbothered.

So if you’re Carinthian, and need to get rid of a couple deer, here’s what to do with the fillets:


I highly recommend taking the fillet out of the fridge an hour or so before you want to start, especially if you like your venison medium to medium rare (as opposed to ‘barely kissed by heat’ like this cavewoman does) as it’ll provide a higher core temperature to start with meaning it’ll be done faster and more evenly.

First, crush a handful fresh thyme leaves and 5-6 juniper berries in a mortar, add a generous amount of salt and pepper and a little oil to get a pesto-like consistency. Rub the (washed and patted dry) fillet with it. Finely chop a shallot and a garlic clove and put aside and turn on the oven on a low setting, you’ll need it to keep the fillet warm while making the sauce later (no hotter than 70°C!).

Steam some broccoli and eggplant slices until tender (around 10 mins).

Sear the fillet on all sides in a hot pan with a little oil, no longer than 1 minute per side for rare, around 1 min 30 per side for medium rare and beyond that I’m sorry, I have no clue. Remember that it’ll keep cooking for a bit after you take it out of the pan! Take it out of the pan and put into the oven to keep warm.

Heat a tsp butter in the same pan, add the chopped shallot and garlic and stir well to get the bits stuck to the bottom of the pan back into the sauce. Add a small handful blueberries and turn the heat down to medium. If things start to look dry, add a glass of red wine and let it simmer away for around four minutes, salt and pepper lightly.

Take the fillet out of the oven, arrange on a plate with the steamed veggies. Beat a tbsp butter into the sauce and pour over fillet and veggies. Done!

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