Grilled Venison Loin with Honey, Juniper, and Black Pepper Glaze
2 or 3 servings
The loin is a long, boneless muscle that runs along either side of the backbone; it’s also called the backstrap. For this dish, use a venison loin portion that’s 10 to 12 inches long, which will weigh about 1¼ pounds. You can also use thick venison round steaks, or thick-cut steaks from an elk or moose loin; grass-fed beef steaks are delicious for this recipe as well. For more information about juniper berries, see page 84 of Teresa’s cookbook titled Dishing Up Minnesota.
1 (10- to 12-inch-long) strip venison loin, or 1¼ pounds boneless thick-cut steaks (see headnote)
¼ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon dried juniper berries
¼ teaspoon whole black peppercorns
3 tablespoons honey
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
Sea salt or coarse kosher salt, for garnish
- Cut the loin into two or three shorter pieces; this makes it easier to handle. Ensure that all silverskin or other connective tissue has been removed. Sprinkle the meat on both sides with the salt and set aside at room temperature while you prepare the grill.
- For a gas grill: Preheat a two-burner gas grill on high for 15 minutes. For a charcoal grill: Prepare a medium-hot fire on half of the coal grate, leaving the other half free of coals.
- While the grill is heating, prepare the glaze. Crush the juniper berries and peppercorns with a mortar and pestle until medium-coarse. (Alternately, place the spices in a heavyweight plastic bag and crush with the back side of a cast-iron skillet.) Combine the crushed mixture with the honey and butter in a very small saucepan. Cook over low heat, stirring occasionally, for about 5 minutes.
- When the grill is ready, turn off one of the burners of the gas grill, or spread out the coals of the charcoal grill, keeping half of the coal grate free of coals. Place the meat over the hot part of the grill. Cook until nicely marked on both sides. Move the meat to the cool area of the grill and brush with the honey glaze. Flip and brush the second side with the glaze. Cover the grill and cook, flipping and brushing the meat with the glaze every few minutes, until it reaches the desired doneness. Total cooking time will be 15 to 20 minutes; near the end, you may want to put the meat back over the hot area to give it a nice color. Venison is best when still somewhat rare; for best results, don’t cook it beyond 135°F (medium-rare), as the temperature will rise a bit during the resting period.
- When the venison is a few degrees below the desired doneness, transfer to a serving plate. Sprinkle with sea salt. Cover loosely and let rest for 5 minutes. Slice thickly and serve.
Note from the kitchen – If you’re not one to pull the grill out in chillier temperatures, we tried this recipe using a cast iron grill pan, and by starting with a hot pan, and reducing the temperature to medium-low during the glazing steps, it worked well.
About the Chef: Teresa Marrone is the author of Dishing Up® Minnesota and The Beginner’s Guide to Making and Using Dried Foods, as well as several cookbooks, field guides, and regional books. She is very active in her local food scene, and has written food-related profiles and features for a variety of magazines. She lives in Minneapolis, Minnesota.
Excerpted from Dishing Up Minnesota, © by Teresa Marrone, photography by © David Paul Schmit, used with permission from Storey Publishing.