Cranberry sauce isn’t just for turkey. The sharpness of these bouncy little berries, coupled with their ability to collapse into a glossy, luxuriously crimson sauce, makes them a perfect match for other meats.
Berries and game is a classic pairing, and here it takes on a festive twist. Juicy venison steaks are covered in a rich cranberry sauce, given a fresh, festive lift with orange zest, port and rosemary. It’s an incredibly easy sauce to make, coming together in minutes, but it has all the wonderful flavours of winter and Christmas. Venison is a wonderful meat that we should all eat more of; its lower in fat than beef, with all of the flavour and a slightly gamey tang that makes it a perfect match for fruity sauces.
I like to serve the cranberry venison with a crunchy salad of green beans, glassy pears and earthy walnuts, bound with mellow garlic, olive oil and sturdy winter herbs. Walnuts are another festive favourite, and they pair so well with the crisp pears and beans here, making a pesto-type dressing for the salad that cuts through the richness of that cranberry sauce. The colours of this plateful are beautiful, and deliver all the satisfaction of a Christmas dinner without any of the hard work.
HERE's what you'll need...
For the salad:
Salt and pepper
3 cloves garlic, peeled
200g green beans, trimmed
10 walnut pieces, toasted
4 tbsp olive or rapeseed oil
2 tbsp flat-leaf parsley, chopped
1 tbsp rosemary leaves, chopped
½ tsp coarse sea salt
1 just-ripe pear (I used Comice), cored and thinly sliced
For the venison:
2 venison steaks
1 tbsp olive or rapeseed oil
50ml port or red wine
250ml hot beef stock (from a cube is fine)
90g fresh cranberries
3 strips of orange zest, thinly shredded with a sharp knife
A sprig of rosemary
3 tsp redcurrant jelly (or other fruit jelly, damson and quince work well)