Our kitchen garden cook makes venison fillet with blackberry and juniper-berry sauce and creamy polenta

‘Blackberries give everyone the right to call themselves a forager. Who hasn’t walked down a lane and picked a few to nibble along the way?  I’ve paired them here with venison and juniper berries, which feels perfectly timed for country-house dinner parties over the shooting season’

Venison fillet with blackberry and juniper-berry sauce and creamy polenta

Serves 4

Ingredients

1 litre milk
180g polenta
50g butter
100ml single cream
150g Parmesan
Seasoning
20g butter
2 shallots
1 clove
2 juniper berries, crushed
A few sprigs of fresh thyme
A couple of sprigs of rosemary
1tbspn sugar
50g mushrooms, sliced
100ml ruby Port
100ml red wine
150ml beef stock
150g blackberries
4 venison fillets
50g crushed peppercorns
50g sea salt, such as Maldon

Method
Preheat your oven to 200˚C/400˚F/gas mark 6. Scatter the crushed peppercorns and salt over a chopping board and roll the venison across it. Add a knob of butter to a large frying pan and sear the meat all over for a few minutes, then cook the fillets in a roasting dish for about 15 minutes.

In the meantime, using the same pan, add a further knob of butter, plus the chopped shallot, clove, crushed juniper berries, thyme, rosemary, sugar and mushrooms. Stir for a few minutes for the flavours to release and then pour the Port, wine and stock into the pan. Simmer until it’s reduced by half before adding the blackberries, heating for a few minutes.

Simmer the milk in a large saucepan, add the polenta and keep stirring for a few minutes until thickened. Once thick, add the butter, cream, Parmesan and seasoning. Spoon onto plates, top with the venison fillets and drizzle the sweet blackberry-and-juniper sauce over them. Serve immediately.