The recipe in this news item was mentioned on page 6 of the November/December 2009 issue of Chef Magazine.

Ryan de Leon, chef de partie of Scaramouche restaurant in Toronto, Canada, won Dish of the Year in the 2009 Cervena Venison Plates Recipe Contest with his Juniper Crusted Cervena Venison Loin with Smoked Bacon Jus (recipe below). De Leon also was awarded The Sierra Meat Co. Most Innovative Cervena Recipe for his dish.
Scaramouche chef de partie Ryan de Leon

The other awards and their winners were:
  • The Broadleaf Best Cervena Appetizer Award: Venison Tenderloin with Coconut Red Curry Noodles and Pickled Vegetables by Sara Welch, pastry supervisor of Bistro Aix, Jacksonville, Fla.
  • The Terra Pacific Award for Best Use of Cervena Value Cuts: Tex-Asian Spiced Cervena Osso Bucco Gulai, by Maria Freeney, catering cook at The Art Institute of Dallas
  • The Four Seasons Best Cervena Heirloom Recipe: Cervena Venison and Foie Gras Wellington, Red Wine Jus by Damian Wills, sous chef of Stone Road Grille, Niagra-on-the-Lake, Canada
Contestants were asked to create a fall- and winter-inspired menu item. Entries were judged by Cervena chef ambassador and chef of Public and Double Crown restaurants in New York City Brad Farmerie and Cervena chef Graham Brown in New Zealand. For more information, visit

Juniper Crusted Cervena Venison Loin with Smoked Bacon Jus
Ryan de Leon, chef de partie, Scaramouche restaurant, Toronto, Canada

Yield: 4 servings

5 t. juniper berries
10 t. black peppercorns
5 t. thyme, chopped
2 12-oz. venison short loins
Salt, divided
400 ml. water
60 ml. lemon juice
2 T. unsalted butter, divided
500 g. salsify, peeled and divided
8 Savoy cabbage leaves, rib removed, blanched and patted dry
35 g. smoked bacon, finely diced
1 medium shallot, minced
60 g. Savoy cabbage, shredded
1/4 c. 35% cream
Pepper, to taste
1 T. extra virgin olive oil
Smoked Bacon Jus (recipe follows)

Method (1) Lightly toast the juniper berries and peppercorns, cool and crush. Add the chopped thyme, and mix in well. Reserve a little for garnish, if desired. (2) Season the venison loin with salt. Heat a cast iron pan with oil and butter over medium-high heat. Cook the venison on each side until evenly browned and medium rare. (3) Remove from heat, and roll in the spice and thyme mix; leave to rest on a wire rack in a warm spot. (4) Bring water, lemon juice and 1 T. butter to a simmer. Season with salt to taste, add peeled salsify, and poach until tender. Remove 4 pieces that are a nice shape and set to one side to cool in a little poaching liquid. Drain the remaining salsify, and purée until smooth; set aside. (5) Wrap the reserved salsify as tightly as possible in the cabbage leaves to form neat cylinders; trim the ends square and place in a small pan with a little liquid. Set aside. (6) In a small pan sauté bacon, shallot and shredded cabbage in remaining butter. Add salsify purée and cream. Season to taste with salt and pepper, and keep warm. (7) To serve, divide the salsify mash between 4 plates. Slice venison loin into 12 slices, and lay three per plate over the mash. Slice cabbage rolls in half, and drizzle with olive oil. Arrange the cabbage rolls on each plate and drizzle with Smoked Bacon Jus; scatter crushed spices and thyme over plate, if desired.

Smoked Bacon Jus
250 g. smoke bacon, large dice
150 g. white onion, small dice
75 g. carrot, small dice
75 g. celery, small dice
1/4 c. tomato paste
200 ml. dry red wine
750 ml. water
9 whole juniper berries
12 whole black peppercorns
1 bay leaf
10 thyme sprigs
4 T. cold butter
Salt and pepper, to taste

Method (1) In a suitable pan cook bacon along with vegetables until lightly colored. Add tomato paste, and continue cooking until a deep, rich brown color has developed. Pour in wine and water, and reduce by half. Add juniper berries, black peppercorns, bay leaf and thyme sprigs. Simmer to reduce by a third. (2) Strain through a fine mesh strainer, and refrigerate until cold, at which point any fat can be easily removed from the sauce; set aside. (3) Return the sauce to a boil and finish with the butter, checking the seasoning.

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