Venison Riblets with Juniper & Chutney

milk braised pork

Juniper is a traditional match with wild game and fowl for good reason; its flavor captures a clean essence of the forest. This same essence is captured in gin, and gives vennison a piney, warm earthiness.

Here's an easy to prepare chutney with the spark of juniper, cherries and apples that will dress up any game, beef, pork or fowl.

Serves 4

1½ pounds venison riblets, about 12

3 Tablespoons olive oil

2 Tablespoons vodka

1 bay leaf

1 Tablespoon Wine Forest Wild Juniper Berries, crushed

1 teaspoon whole allspice, crushed

1 clove garlic, crushed

1 tsp thyme leaves

 

For the Apple & Cherry Chutney:

¾ cup water, boiling

1/3 cup dried cherries, chopped

1 Tablespoon Wine Forest Wild Juniper Berries, crushed

2 bay leaves

½ cup onion, minced

2 teaspoons olive oil

1 clove garlic, minced

1 large tart apple, chopped

2 Tablespoons lemon, seeded and chopped

¼ cup cider vinegar

3 Tablespoons brown sugar

6 juniper berries, ground

2 cloves, ground

2 allspice berries, ground

¼ teaspoon thyme

¼ teaspoon ground ginger

pinch of chili flakes

Combine the olive oil, vodka, juniper berries, allspice, bay leaf, garlic and thyme in a bowl and coat the riblets with this mixture in a shallow pan, cover and refrigerate to marinade for at least 6 hours or overnight.

Position a rack in the center of the oven. Preheat the oven to 375°F.

Removet the ribs from the refrigerator and let approach room temperature for about 10 minutes. Pat the riblets with a paper towel and season the ribs with salt and pepper, or better yet, Wine Forest Juniper Berry Rub.

Heat a heavy skillet, cast iron being ideal, over a medium high flame, and sear the ribs for 2 minutes each side, then put the skillet into the oven and cook for 4 minutes, being sure not to overcook the riblets. They should be browned nicely and rare to medium rare.

Serve the riblets after a 5 minute rest with the cherry-apple chutney.

For the Apple & Cherry Chutney with Juniper:

Combine the boiled water, crushed juniper berries and bay leaves in a cup and let steep for ten minutes. Strain the broth over the dried cherries to plump them while you prepare the other ingredients.

In a small non-reactive pan, heat the olive oil over a medium flame and add the onion and garlic. Cook until sweating, enough to soften, but not to carmelize. Add the apple, lemon, plumped cherries and liquid, cider vinegar, brown sugar, ground juniper berries, allspice, clove, ginger and chili flakes.

Cook this mixture for approximately an hour, stirring occasionally.

Tips and Techniques

This small batch of chutney can be kept in the refrigerator for up to three weeks.

Substitutions and Variations

Use young lamb or goat riblets if venison isn't available.