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Photo by Penelope Moore | Sliced venison served medium rare.
Photo by Penelope Moore | Sliced venison served medium rare.

A friend of ours on the North Fork, who lives almost entirely off the land and water, gave us a beautiful venison tenderloin. Low in cholesterol and fat, venison contains nutrients that are beneficial.

When I first moved to Shelter Island, I told a local hunter and bayman that I was interested in any venison he might have. He told me he had moved from hunting for deer to duck but he would see what he could do. A couple of weeks later, I received a call from the Shelter Island Police Department, saying that there had been an accident not far from my house. My heart skipped a beat as I wondered what on earth could have happened. He said that a deer had just been hit and had to be put down. If I wanted to come and pick it up, they would give me the exact location. I thanked the officer but told him I was interested in smaller portions.

Deer is a mainstay of many Shelter Islanders’ diets, and we are fortunate that the Recycling Center has a freezer full of venison harvested from hunters and these types of accidents. I consume less meat now than a few years ago, but venison tenderloin makes for a special dinner and is easy to prepare.


1 venison tenderloin

1 cup balsamic vinegar

1 cup olive oil

1 sprig fresh thyme

1 sprig rosemary

Handful fresh juniper berries

1 clove garlic chopped



Grapeseed oil

Place ingredients in a Ziploc bag, add venison; squeeze air out of the bag and ensure meat is completely covered in marinade. Let sit at room temperature for 40 minutes.

Put skillet (cast iron is good for this) over medium high heat and add grapeseed oil.

Sprinkle additional salt/pepper as desired over meat, then place in pan, and using tongs, sear all sides.

Depending on the size of the tenderloin, 4 to 5 minutes for top and bottom will result in medium-rare slices. You can also insert a meat thermometer to get a more exact reading for thicker cuts.

When completed, remove from heat and let sit for 15 minutes, then slice to serve.


2 tablespoons olive oil

2 shallots, chopped fine

1/4 cup sherry

3/4 cup low-sodium beef broth

1 teaspoon butter

1 sprig thyme

12 juniper berries

In a saucepan on medium high heat, add olive oil. When oil is warm, add shallots and stir until shallots are translucent. Add sherry, continuing to stir. When sherry is reduced by half, add beef broth and allow the sauce to come to boil, then simmer for 5 minutes. Add butter, thyme, salt and pepper and drippings from meat, then serve over venison.