Roast Tenderloin of Venison

When hunting season has arrives, rarely does one come home to find two tenderloins of venison in a cooler at the back door.

I was thrilled one Saturday, when a friend had delivered very fresh, vacuum-packed, local deer meat at our house.

Typically someone offers me venison when clearing out a freezer to make room for a fresh supply.

I realize that not everyone likes venison. But for those of us who enjoy it, venison offers a seasonally-appropriate variety at Thanksgiving. Hence, this recipe. 

It adapts my brother John’s recipe, which he uses only for beef tenderloin. But, I thought it would be great for venison, and the results supported that belief.

I did marinate the meat in buttermilk. Doing so removes any gamey flavor and tenderizes the venison, although this piece of meat probably didn’t need that.

It turned out beautifully and, of course, it's naturally gluten-free.


For the venison:
1 tenderloin of venison
Buttermilk to cover
½ cup of black peppercorns
2 teaspoons of salt
1 teaspoon of cornstarch
1 teaspoon of dried oregano
1 teaspoon of garlic powder
1 teaspoon of paprika
1 tablespoon of olive oil

For the horseradish cream sauce
2 heads of garlic
Olive oil
2 cups of heavy cream
¼ teaspoon of salt
¼ cup of prepared horseradish
¼ teaspoon of pepper (preferably white)


For the Venison: Rinse the venison; place it in a plastic resealable bag and cover with buttermilk. Let it marinate overnight. The next day, drain the meat and bring it to room temperature, sitting out for perhaps two hours.

Preheat the oven to 425° F.

Using a food processor, crush the peppercorns and then add the salt, cornstarch, oregano, garlic powder and paprika. Pulse several times to blend in the other ingredients.

Once at room temperature, rinse the meat, pat dry and then rub the oil all over it. Then cover all sides with the pepper mixture.

Place the meat on a rack in the roasting pan and cook for 35 to 40 minutes. After cooking, let the roast stand tented with aluminum foil for 20 minutes before serving. The meat should be rare and tender. Serve in half-inch-thick slices.

Another option: Let the venison cool completely, refrigerate overnight and serve cold the next day. Slice it into half-inch servings, with a horseradish cream sauce on slices of a baguette (gluten-free).

For the cream sauce: Preheat oven to 350° F. Slice off the top end off of each head of garlic. Drizzle them with olive oil and wrap them in aluminum foil. Bake for 50 minutes.

Simmer the cream while the garlic roasts. It should reduce by half. Once the garlic is cooked and cooled enough to handle, squeeze the garlic into a bowl separating it from the skins. Add the reduced cream, salt, horseradish and pepper to the garlic and blend well. Refrigerate overnight.

Make it ahead

The garlic can be roasted and then refrigerated a day or two in advance of making the cream sauce.