Winter barbecue of venison with green sauce

by Tom Hunt

A winter barbecue worth braving the cold for

Venison is a very lean meat. In order to keep it juicy, marinate for as long as possible and serve it rare to medium. Ask your butcher to seam out the haunch so that it is in large pieces of muscle. I’d highly recommend getting the barbecue set up even in the winter—it will give the meat even more flavour and is always a fun way to cook. 


For the venison:
1.5kg joint of venison haunch
100ml extra virgin olive oil
30g salt 
10g ground black pepper 
50g mixed winter herbs and/or herb stalks (see ‘waste not’ box below)

For the green sauce:
200g mixed seasonal herbs, stalks removed (for example, marjoram, sage, rosemary, nettles)
1 clove of garlic, finely chopped 
100ml extra virgin olive oil
50ml cabernet sauvignon vinegar 
1 tsp Dijon mustard (optional)
1 tbsp capers, finely chopped (optional)



To marinate the venison, put the meat in a bowl with the olive oil, salt and pepper. It may seem like a lot of seasoning, but it needs to penetrate the meat to the core to make a full, rounded and savoury flavour. Add the herbs and/or stalks if you have them. Leave in the fridge for a minimum of 24 hours, but up to 5 days. Turn once a day.

The green sauce can be made a day or two in advance. Chop up all your herbs finely using a knife. I find it creates a much nicer texture than using a blender and it’s a good excuse to practice your knife skills.

Add the garlic, then pound with a pestle and mortar to bring out the flavour and help the herbs break down. Add the olive oil, vinegar, and the mustard and capers if using. Season to taste.

Remove the meat from the marinade and pat dry with a paper towel. Heat your barbecue or griddle to a medium heat. Place the venison on the heat and char each side well. This should take about 3-4 mins on each side. If it is charring too quickly or slowly, adjust the heat as necessary.

When the meat is charred all over (this should take 12-16 mins) rest in a warm place for 5-10 mins then slice and serve with the green sauce.

It’s worth noting that if your piece of meat is round and very thick it will take longer on each side. If it is a flatter joint and seems like it only has two sides worthy of grilling, cook it just on those sides for 3-4 mins. The meat should be rare to medium to be tender and succulent.

WASTE NOT: Remove all of the thicker stalks from your herbs, bruise them and use them to marinate the meat.