Roast rack of venison with a cherry and thyme crust

Roast rack of venison with a cherry and thyme crust

Leiths How to Cook
Peter Cassidy


Quantity Ingredient
few sprigs thyme
few sprigs parsley
30g fresh white breadcrumbs
75g dried cherries
30g butter, softened
8-bone rack of venison
1 shallot
3 juniper berries
1 tablespoon olive oil
150ml red wine
50ml ruby port
pared strip of orange zest
500ml Brown chicken and veal stock
2 teaspoons butter, softened and mixed with 2 teaspoons flour (beurre manie), if needed
15g plain chocolate, ideally about 70% cocoa solids
freshly ground black pepper

To serve

Quantity Ingredient
parsnip, pureed
or Celeriac purée
Savoy cabbage with pancetta, omitting the pancetta


  1. To make the crust, finely chop enough thyme and parsley leaves to give you 1 teaspoon of each. Place in a small food processor bowl with the breadcrumbs, dried cherries, butter and some salt and pepper, and blend to a coarse paste.
  2. Trim the venison bones and meat, if necessary. The bones should extend no more than 5–6 cm above the meat and any sinew should be removed from the meat. Reserve any venison trimmings. Spread the paste over the rounded presentation side of the venison rack; you want just a thin, complete layer. Chill in the fridge for at least 30 minutes before cooking.
  3. Heat the oven to 200ºC.
  4. For the sauce, halve, peel and finely chop the shallot. Crush the juniper berries using a pestle and mortar or with the end of a rolling pin.
  5. Heat the olive oil in a saucepan over a medium heat and sauté the shallot and any venison trimmings for 2–3 minutes. Deglaze with the wine and port and reduce to 2–3 tablespoons. Add the juniper berries, orange zest, 1 thyme sprig and the stock. Bring to a simmer and simmer for 10–15 minutes to reduce a little and for the flavours to develop. Skim any scum off the surface.
  6. Taste the sauce and, when you are happy with the strength of flavour, season with salt and pepper and strain through a fine sieve. Discard the aromatics and return the sauce to the wiped out saucepan; it should be lightly syrupy and can be thickened with a little beurre manié (the butter and flour mixture) if necessary. Set the sauce aside. Finely chop the chocolate.
  7. Season the non-crust side of the venison carefully and place the joint crust side up in a roasting tin. Transfer to the oven and roast for 20–30 minutes until medium rare. Remove from the oven, place the venison on a board and leave to rest in a warm place for 10–15 minutes.
  8. Add the chocolate to the sauce and very gently reheat, whisking to encourage the chocolate to melt into the sauce; do not let the sauce simmer.
  9. Carve the venison rack into individual bones and put onto plates with the parsnip or celeriac purée and Savoy cabbage. Spoon a little of the sauce around the venison.
Leiths School of food and wine
cookery course
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