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Wild Venison with Wild Blackberry Sauce


It’s been a tough week. My Dad is ill in hospital and, while thankfully he’s stabilising now, it was touch and go for a few days. Naturally, I’ve come home to Ireland, and while here have not had many opportunities to cook. I am really starting to feel it.

Cooking, whichever meal, is one of the few times in my day that I am completely focussed and I find it utterly relaxing. I love playing with my food. I have not been cooking at home or eating well though, instead I have been eating at the hospital café, and really, I am sure Scotch Broth soup is not supposed to taste like damp warm socks, or coffee like grainy Bovril. ICK. They do have the beloved toasted special there but with plastic reconstituted cheese and I just can’t do it. Shouldn’t hospitals have good food, to help people get better, and to help ease the stresses of those visiting?

Luckily across the road from the hospital there is a very nice shop which sells almost everything and also sells very good food. Lots of local produce and interesting more widespread Irish produce. So I stocked up with the intention of eating a bit better and exploring local products I had yet to try. There are still a few!

I started with some wild venison. I wondered what to do with it, and while out walking past some brambles, I spied some blackberries which were still fresh and juicy, and it seemed like the most obvious thing in the world.

I figured that blackberries, cooked with some of that nice rioja that I had at the house and a little balsamic as they were very a little sweet rather than the more sour blackberries earlier in the season. The rich balsamic tang would be good with the gamey venison too. Some honey would reassert the balance if required, and some fresh meat stock would add depth. A brown stock like veal stock would be best here but I had fresh chicken stock so I used that.

The sauce was a revelation, rich with the rioja and the stock with the juicy and slightly sour blackberries flirting with the balsamic. I want to try it with game birds too, I think it would be very good. The only odd thing is, it really does look like a puddle of blood underneath Bambi, but try not to think about that ;)

You will have to forgive the poor char on the venison, I was a bit distracted and didn’t heat the pan enough (you really need to heat those for a good 5 minutes until they are as hot as the center of the sun). It deserved a crisp char but it still tasted great though. The lean venison, served rare with that rich and juicy blackberry sauce was perfect. Some sauté potatoes and some kale or cavolo nero would be a great accompaniment. Alos beetroot, which is a perfect partner to the balsamic in the sauce.

With regard to the recipe for the sauce, this like anything you cook, requires you to taste it. Volumes of each ingredient depend on the sweetness of the blackberries, the richness of your stock and the wine you use.  It’s very flexible so feel free to adjust to your likeness.

Serves 2

Wild Venison with Blackberry Sauce

Not the prettiest, but it tastes great. (The flecks are black pepper :)


Wild Venison with Wild Blackberry Sauce


2 wild venison steaks about 2cm thickness (what ever cut you can get – I had quite a lean bit of loin)

125g blackberries
A glass of red wine (rioja or something similarily full bodies works – whatever you have)
250ml meat stock (fresh if possible, veal of light beef best but chicken works too)
1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
1 tsp honey



Add the wine to a pan over a high heat and burn off the alcohol (you will smell it in the air) for a couple of minutes.
Add the blackberries, vinegar and stock and cook over a low heat for about 10 minutes until the blackberries are cooked and mushy.
Add honey to taste.
Serve warm under the steak.


Ensure that your venison is at room temperature. Salt & Pepper your steaks on each side and rub with a small bit of neutral oil (rapeseed or sunflower work – try not to use one that is strong flavoured). The pepper isn’t essntial but l like it.
Heat a griddle or similar until extremely hot. For a good 5 minutes if you can.
Fry the steaks for 2-3 minutes on either side for rare (which is really how you should eat good wild venison), 3-4 for medium, 5-6 for well done (but please don’t do that!).



Filed under: Cooking


Cooking and travelling, and sharing it all with you.


  1. Wow the blackberry sauce sounds tempting! I an’t wait to try it! Do you think it will be good on fish, too?
    Thanks for sharing!

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  3. Oh Niamh, I hope your father gets out of hospital soon. I’ve done that living in the hospital waiting room thing and it’s not fun. xxx

  4. I’m amazed you have the energy to cook! I’m so glad he seems to be improving; loads of love to you and the family.

  5. You’re always one step ahead. Just bought two venison steaks from butcher tonight and had no clue how to cook ’em. Now I just have to hop over my neighbour’s fence and steal some blackberries…

    I hope your dad gets better soon. x

  6. Hi Niamh
    Hope your father recovers soon…. at least they don’t have burger king in the hospital like the one my poor father was in! The venison with blackberry sounds like a match made in heaven!

  7. Have just moved to London and have been loving reading your blog. Congratulations on another lovely post- this sounds like a fabulous combination- did a similar thing with duck and damsons recently- the tang helped cut through the fat. Also sending good thoughts into the universe for your dad. Hospitals are simply hideous.

  8. That. Sounds. Heavenly. I had a similar sauce in the New Forest recently with grouse (served rare) and black pudding wrapped in cabbage. A lot of blood and blackberry juice on the plate but it’s such a great combination! Hope your father gets better soon.

  9. Best wishes for your father’s speedy recovery Niamh. Love this post especially the sauce, bet it had the perfect balance of sharp, tart & sweet all at once. Will be trying it out soon.

  10. DEEELICIOUS! And excellent timing as I have a lovely piece of venison in the fridge rioght now and wasn’t sure what to do with it. Now if only I could find a bramble bush in Vauxhall…! hope your Dad gets better soon.

  11. Your venison dish looks divine, I’ve been fingering some venison steaks for a while now but wasn’t quite sure what to do with them. Now I know!

  12. vickscakes says

    Niamh, hopefully you dad will come round, my thoughts are with you & all your family. Best Wishes Vicky x

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