Roast Venison with Heritage Tomatoes, Pesto and Freekeh

3:10 pm on 30 October 2015



  • Handful basil
  • ¼ clove garlic
  • 3 tablespoons pine nuts (lightly toasted)
  • 100g Parmigiano Reggiano (freshly grated)
  • 150ml extra virgin olive oil
  • Salt
  • Juice of half lemon


  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 200g cracked freekeh
  • 2 cloves finely diced garlic
  • ½ a finely diced shallot
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon cumin
  • ¼ teaspoon coriander
  • 700ml of your preferred stock
  • ¼ cup sliced toasted almonds
  • Handful chopped fresh parsley
  • Handful chopped fresh coriander


  • 1 Bay leaf
  • A sprig of thyme
  • A sprig of rosemary
  • 150ml of Pedro Ximenez sweet sherry (or red wine)
  • 30ml sherry vinegar (or good quality red wine vinegar)
  • 600 g of venison leg muscle or backstrap 
  • Olive oil for frying
  • 2 knobs of butter for the glaze

Tomato Salad

  • 500g heritage tomatoes – a mix different varieties is ideal
  • Teaspoon sherry vinegar
  • Tablespoon olive oil
  • Pinch of salt
  • ¼ teaspoon honey
  • Small handful fresh chopped basil
  • Small handful fresh chopped mint



Blend basil, garlic and salt in a food processor. Add pine nuts and pulse the blender so that the pesto remains a bit chunky. Transfer to a bowl and stir in the extra virgin olive oil until the pesto has reached a drizzling consistency. Add Parmesan cheese and stir. Taste and adjust seasoning with salt and/or a squeeze of lemon juice.


Warm the olive oil in a heavy-bottomed saucepan. Add shallots, garlic, cumin, coriander and salt and fry until the vegetables are translucent. Add the freekeh and sauté for a few minutes. Add the stock and bring the liquid to the boil. Reduce the heat to medium-low, cover and gently simmer, stirring occasionally until the freekeh is tender (20 to 25 minutes). Drain off any excess liquid, cover and set aside for 5 minutes. Fluff with a fork and season with salt and pepper to taste. Garnish with fresh herbs and toasted almonds.


Slice the tomatoes into rounds. Use a fork to whisk the sherry vinegar, oil, honey and salt. Dress the tomatoes and garnish with fresh basil and mint.


Chop bay leaf, thyme and rosemary, and mix with the sherry and vinegar to form a marinade. Trim the silver skin and sinew from the venison muscle, marinate the venison at room temperature for about an hour. Place a heavy based cast iron or griddle pan on high heat and add a little fat or oil, generously season the venison with salt. Sear the venison on all sides to achieve a caramelised crust then place the meat in a preheated oven at 220 degrees. Roast for about 5 minutes, cover with foil and set aside to rest.

Combine the venison juices and remaining marinade into a hot pan, and reduce the liquid by half. Remove from the heat and whisk a knob of butter into the juices. When completely melted add another small knob and keep whisking. The juices will thicken up to form a silky sauce to cling to the meat.  

Slice the rested venison against the grain, spoon over the sherry sauce. Serve with the fresh tomato salad, freekeh, pesto, lemon wedges and olive oil.

Serves four.

From Jesse Mulligan, 1–4pm

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