Chargrilled venison with cauliflower, cherry sauce, leek ash & anchovy
Venison / All Seasons / Dariush Lolaiy / Serves: 4

400 g venison leg or loin

Spice rub
1 leek, green tops only
1/2 tsp star anise
1/2 tsp chopped rosemary
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp black pepper
1/2 tsp sugar
1/2 tsp salt
700 g venison leg or loin (if using 1 large muscle cut it into 2 sections)

Cherry sauce
500 g dark sweet cherries, pitted
100 g sugar
spice bag containing: 1 cinnamon stick, 5 cloves, 2 star anise, 8 peppercorns, 2 allspice berries
100 ml port

Cauliflower & venison
1 head cauliflower
20 g pine nuts, cooked in butter until golden
1 handful flat-leaf parsley, chopped
50 g raisins, soaked in cream sherry for 48 hours
1/2 juice of a lemon
1 shallot, peeled and finely diced
200 ml milk
1 small tin Ortiz anchovies, to garnish


The leek ash in this recipe is an optional extra. Its coal-black colour provides a beautiful contrast against the ruby meat, and it adds a subtle sweet and tannic quality to the dish. This is perfect to pair with a New Zealand pinot noir.



For the spice rub
Preheat the oven to 190°C. Char the green leek tops on a hot grill, until completely blackened. Transfer to the oven for about 15 minutes to thoroughly dry the charred leek. Remove from the oven and allow to cool. Using a food processor, blend the leek to a fine ash powder. Combine the star anise, chopped rosemary, garlic powder, black pepper, sugar, salt and 2 tsp of the leek ash to make a spice rub. Coat the venison with the spice rub, cover and refrigerate for 48 hours in advance of cooking.

For the cherry sauce
In a saucepan, macerate the cherries in the sugar with the spice bag for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the port, then cook on a low heat for 20 minutes. Remove and discard the spice bag. Set aside half the cherries, and blend the remaining cherries and liquid. When smooth, return the reserved whole cherries to the blended sauce.

For the cauliflower
Cut the cauliflower head into florets, then slice the florets into 3 mm cross sections. Set aside the offcuts from the stems and broken florets for the puree. Toss the sliced florets with a little olive oil, season and set aside. Sweat the shallot in olive oil. While the shallot softens, cut the reserved cauliflower offcuts into small pieces, then add them to the shallot with a knob of butter. Season with salt and pepper and gently cook on a low heat covered with a cartouche. After 8 minutes, add the milk and cook for a further 20 minutes, until the cauliflower is completely soft. Strain the cauliflower, but keep the cooking liquid. Using a blender, blend until completely smooth, adding the cooking liquid as necessary to achieve a purée consistency. Check the seasoning, and set aside.

For the venison
Bring the venison to room temperature. Preheat the oven to 220°C. Just before cooking, rub the venison with a little olive oil. Sear on a hot grill for about 1 minute on each side. Cook in the oven for 3 minutes, or until the internal temperature reaches 33°C. Rest the venison for 4 minutes. While the venison is cooking, grill the sliced cauliflower florets for about 20 seconds on each side - the cauliflower should have visible grill lines and still be crunchy. In a small bowl, toss the grilled cauliflower with the pine nuts, flat-leaf parsley and sherry-soaked raisins. Season with salt and lemon juice. Set aside.

To serve
Cut the meat against the grain – aim for 1 cm wide slices. Lay the meat on top of the cherry sauce and scatter with the grilled cauliflower and pine nuts. Serve with cauliflower puree and garnish with a few anchovy fillets.