Venison with bilberry sauce

Hjortfilé med blåbärsås

Venison with bilberry sauce

Hjortfilé med blåbärsås (venison with bilberry sauce) is a superb dish for a special occasion, but it is so good it is worth finding something to celebrate! I also find the dish is evocative of the Swedish forests, especially if you can make it with bilberries. I just imagine I picked the berries myself!

Venison is my favourite red meat. It contains fewer calories, less fat and more iron than chicken breast and yet I think it has a wonderful flavour, rather like a well-hung steak but with a delicious deep woody taste.

The downside of venison is that because there is so little fat the meat can be easily overcooked. When the meats heats up the muscle fibres contract, squeezing out the moisture. Treat it with care and it becomes the king of the meat world.


I like to make this dish using bilberries (frozen bilberries are fine for this dish), but if you can’t find any feel free to substitute blueberries. Some people actually prefer blueberries as they are sweeter and juicier than bilberries. John Duxbury




•  For European readers, I recommend using Blåbär 100% which is obtainable from specialist shops or online.  It is, as the name implies, pure bilberry juice with no additives.


•  For readers across the other side of the pond, I recommend Bleu d'ici. It is produced in Canada and is also made from wild berries with nothing added.

•  If you can’t find any bilberry or blueberry juice, increase the amount of red wine to 240 ml (1 cup).

•  You can also use venison medallions. (Cook for 1 minute per cm of thickness on each side.)


5   juniper berries
4   black peppercorsn
1 tbsp   freshly picked thyme leaves
1½ tbsp   olive oil
pinch   salt
600 g   venison loin, trimmed
4   shallots, peeled and finely sliced
120 ml (½ cup) bilberry juice
120 ml (½ cup) red wine, preferably quite robust
100 g (4 oz) bilberries or blueberries, fresh or frozen
2 tbsp   butter


1. Crush the juniper berries, peppercorns and thyme together using a pestle and mortar. Add the olive oil, a pinch of salt and mix thoroughly.

2. Dry the venison with some kitchen paper and brush the oil mixture over the meat.

3. Put a frying pan on a high heat and when hot add the venison. Cook for between 6 and 8 minutes turning every minute. (The cooking time will depend on the thickness of the meat, how hot your pan is and how you like your venison but be sure not to overcook it. Read more about the cooking time for venison click here)

4. When cooked to your liking, remove, cover and keep warm.

5. Reduce the heat under the pan and add the shallots (you might need to add some butter if the pan is very dry). Fry gently for about 3 minutes until softened. (Sometimes I remove some of the fried onion and use it as a garnish.)

6. Turn up the heat again and add the bilberry juice and the red wine. Boil steadily for about 4 minutes, until reduced by at least half. (Swedes tend to like a lot of sauce so I don't reduce the sauce quite as much if I am making this dish for Swedes.)

7. Reduce the heat, add the bilberries and simmer gently for another 4 minutes.

8. Meanwhile, carve the venison into nice thick slices.

9. Remove the sauce from the heat and stir in the butter. Spoon the sauce over the venison slices.

10. Serve with potatismos med Västerbottensost (cheesy mashed potato) and some nice greens such as steamed kale or broccoli. Enjoy with the red wine or Blåbär 100%.


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