Best Valentine’s Day Meals Start with Venison!

When the moon hits your eye like a big pizza pie, that’s …

Wait, wait. This isn’t a love site for singles and minglers and such. Right? Amore? Moons? Pizza pies? Where’s the venison and chili and jerky?

Chances are pretty good your better half wouldn’t care for a ribbon-wrapped box of deer jerky this weekend for Valentine’s Day. Now, if she gave you some then, well, heck yeah! But in the spirit of romance and kissy-kissy lovey dovey stuff, we offer this great recipe from Stacy Harris.

She made this a couple of years ago when the DDH crew was at her gorgeous home to film this DVD and get some info for her great cookbooks. By gorgeous home, I mean a Southern Living home with “wow” appeal, a cool garden, a blackberry patch, chickens and happy kiddos. We had a great time.

Harris made this Chili Cocoa Crusted Venison with Blackberry Reduction while we were there and it was super. I think she could take a brick, stick of butter and wooden spoon and turn out something fantastic.

Give this recipe a try this weekend, perhaps with a nice Cabernet or Chardonnay, and enjoy spending time with your better half. Deer season is over so you better be thanking her for all those days you were gone (because the season will be here before we know it!).

Better yet, surprise her with some of Harris’ cookbooks and enjoy these great venison recipes all year. Visit Harris’ website,, for more great tips, recipes and insights from her, too.

Chili Cocoa Crusted Venison with Blackberry Reduction

1/3 cup coffee grounds
1/4 cup cocoa
2½ tablespoon salt
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 venison loin
Olive oil for browning

Blackberry Reduction
1½ cups blackberries
1/2 cup blueberries
1/2 cup red wine (cabernet-sauvignon)
1/4 cup sugar
1 lemon, juiced
Kosher salt, to taste

Place blackberries, red wine, sugar, and lemon juice in a small saucepan and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to simmer and reduce by half. Season with salt. Mix coffee grounds, cocoa, salt, brown sugar, cinnamon, and cayenne pepper in a bowl. Rub mixture into loin.

Heat cast iron skillet to almost smoking. Place loin into skillet and brown on all sides. Place loin in 350-degree oven 4 to 5 minutes, depending on size of loin. Remove from pan. Let rest for at least 5 minutes.

Slice into 1-inch pieces on a platter and spoon berry reduction on top of venison. Serve with collard greens.


Blueberry Shitake Venison ... mmm, sweet blueberries and the earthiness of mushrooms.

Blueberry Shitake Venison … mmm, sweet blueberries and the earthiness of mushrooms.

Venison and collard greens sound like a great combination! Also give this super recipe a try from our pals at Food for Hunters:

Venison tenderloin, kept whole (amount depends on how much you want to eat)
kosher salt, to taste
freshly ground black pepper, to taste
4 tbs. butter
2 tbs. olive oil
1/2 cup of fresh blueberries (or frozen), slightly crushed
1/3 cup of fresh shitake mushrooms (or your favorite) , stems removed and sliced
1/2 cup of elderberry wine (or your choice of berry fruit juice)
sugar (optional), to taste

1. Preheat oven to 300 degrees F. Remove all silver skin and fat from venison tenderloin. Dab dry with a paper towel. Sprinkle with kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper. Make sure you let the tenderloin come to room temperature before you go to cook it.

2. In a pan, heat 2 tbs. of butter and 2 tbs. of olive oil over medium-high heat.  When the pan is hot, quickly sear the venison on both sides until you get a nice brown color – about 2 minutes each side. Move the tenderloin to an ovenproof dish. Put it in the oven to allow it to keep warm and continue to cook to medium- rare. DO NOT OVERCOOK.

3. Lower the heat to medium, and add sliced mushrooms to the same pan with the venison drippings. And the blueberries… saute until the mushrooms are soft and the blueberries start to break down, stirring often.

4. Then add the wine or juice, scraping all the tasty bits from the bottom of the pan.

5. Simmer for about 5 minutes, or until the sauce thickens. Then add the remaining 2 tbs. of butter.

Stir in some salt and sugar, if desired. You want a balance between sweetness, tartness and a little saltiness. During this whole time, make sure you don’t forget the tenderloin in the oven. Internal temperature for medium-rare should be 125-130 degrees F.

Slice tenderloin into medallions. Drizzle blueberry-shitake sauce over the medallions. Serve with your favorite sides!