Venison Loin with Fig and Zinfandel Reduction Over Carrot and Acorn Squash Purée

posted on January 25, 2014


  • 1 1/2 pounds venison loin (cut into 6- to 8-oz. portions)
  • kosher salt
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 2-3 tablespoons oil
  • 11/2 cups quality old vine zinfandel
  • 4-6 dried figs, cut into quarters
  • 1 cup quality stock (veal or game is preferable though beef can be substituted)
  • 2 tablespoons cold butter, cut into small cubes
  • 1 teaspoon fresh thyme


1) Completely trim away any silver skin and fat. Cut loin into 41/2-inch portions. Season liberally with salt and pepper.

2) In a medium skillet, add oil and bring to a temperature just below smoking point. Sear venison on all sides. Place in a 400-degree oven until the internal temperature is 115 degrees (medium rare).

3) After the venison is removed from the skillet, return skillet to the heat and add wine to deglaze. Use a wooden spoon to scrape the brown bits (fond) from the bottom of the pan. Reduce the wine by half. Add dried figs and stock and again reduce by half. The sauce will start to develop the consistency of syrup.

4) Add small amounts of cold butter, swirling the pieces in to help thicken the sauce. Adding the butter too fast will cause the sauce to separate. Finish the sauce with fresh thyme and recheck for seasoning. (Serves 3)

Carrot and Acorn Squash Purée


  • 1 acorn squash (roughly 11/2 lbs.)
  • 8 carrots (about 13 ozs.)
  • 1 shallot
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1 tablespoon fresh thyme
  • olive oil
  • kosher salt, to taste
  • freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 1/8 cup crème fraiche (optional)


1) Cut the squash in half, scoop out seeds and place both halves in a shallow baking dish flesh side down.

2) Peel and uniformly cut carrots (half-inch pieces), and add garlic cloves and peeled halved shallot to the baking dish.

3) Lightly coat in olive oil, season with salt and black pepper and cover with foil. Place in a 375-degree oven until tender (45-60 minutes).

4) After removing the pan from the oven, add a cup of water to help deglaze the pan and allow to cool, so it can be easily handled.

5) Peel the acorn squash; place the flesh into a blender along with the carrots, garlic and shallot. Purée till smooth, adding only enough water as needed. Re-season to taste and add crème fraiche and fresh thyme. Reserve until ready to serve.


When you are ready to serve, spoon your purée as a base, slice your venison thinly after it has rested, fan the meat out over the purée and drizzle with the reduction.

Matthew Cosenzo’s passion for food and the outdoors developed while growing up in a small central New Jersey town. The search for a summer job landed him in a fly-fishing pro shop where he soon taught fly-tying to his customers. His passion for fly fishing and hunting drove his desire to use his creativity, which in turn drove his pursuit in the culinary arts and eventually landed him in the nation’s finest culinary school.

He was enrolled in the Culinary Institute of America (cia) in Hyde Park, N.Y. His education enabled him to travel and work in the culinary field in California and throughout New York. Graduating from the CIA with a bachelor’s degree in restaurant and hotel management, Matt combined his passions to create simple, elegant and approachable meals.

Matt is a regular contributor to Cooking Wild Magazine, a publication dedicated to cooking anything you can hunt, fish or forage, and Bear Hunters Online. He is an avid bowhunter and has developed a love for big-bore revolvers. He enjoys the challenge of getting close to game.


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