New recipes and updates

Get new recipes
in your inbox

Cuisine Fiend

Find a recipe by ingredient

Roast venison with chocolate sauce

Mon, 12 October, 2020

How to roast a haunch of venison? This is how: salt, brine and a few rashers of. It takes time to season and soak but the cooking time is surprisingly short: just nine minutes per pound.

roast haunch of venison

Research recently shows we should eat a little red meat after all, for iron and vitamin B. Venison is lean, super flavoursome and not bank-breaking. It is available most of the year apart from spring plus it is free range, happy meat.

But venison is just so awfully tough isn’t it?

Venison can be tough. I have had once a marvellous roast of the eye fillet of venison in a crushingly expensive restaurant (the dish was that too) and it was, obviously, tender like butter. But most of the time it is haunch that we buy and a lot of the time it is quite tough.

how to cook venison haunch

This recipe is a game changer

Indeed it is a game changer, or even game transformer: it is a foolproof albeit lengthy method for tenderising venison. It can apply to game birds too: pheasants or partridges that look like they are tough old birds.

roast venison with chocolate sauce

How to cook a haunch of venison?

The method is threefold: salt, brine and short roasting time. It all takes place over three days but it is certainly worth it. Simply buy your meat well in advance: anyhow game is not usually something you pull from the back of the freezer an hour before dinner time, is it?

roast venison haunch

How to cook venison: salt it first

Salting is incredibly important as I kind of knew before but was decisively reaffirmed in the knowledge by Samin Nosrat. She recommends salting the meat as soon as you’ve brought it back from the butcher’s, and at the very least an hour before cooking. She, like me, abhors those who apply salt to their food only on their plate and she, like me, points out we are usually scared of salt in home cooking.

That is not to say that ultra-processed food has got it right, the amount of salt and sugar in those ready meals and fast food would scare the saltiest dog of a chef. But at home we usually err on the side of undersalting, believing you can always top it up on the plate.

That’s wrong because salt, like seasoning, needs to penetrate the product and that is relevant with meat more than other things. Plus – and that’s what people really have known for centuries – salt tenderises.

So grab your venison haunch as soon as you’ve unwrapped it and sprinkle, rub and repeat with about twice as much salt as you would think fit.

salt venison joint

How and why to brine venison?

Brining means soaking the meat in salty liquid with aromatics. The difference between the effect of brining vs. marinating is distinct: marinating imparts flavour while brining tenderises and retains moisture. Marinating tough cuts might actually have the opposite effect as tissue will relax to the point of turning mushy but then contract and toughen again. Lose-lose situation.

Soaking in brine will deliver the result but caution here: we have already salted our meat so in spite of what I said about over-cautious salting, we don’t want to over salt the game. Thus the brine will be made with just aromatics and a little sugar, and we’ll scrape in the salt that has already been working on the meat. Off to fridge for another 24 hours.

brine for venison

How long to roast venison haunch?

After the brining the meat will look a bit sad: greyish and sodden. Ideally, it should now dry up in the fridge for another night or so but if that isn’t possible just pat it dry and let it sit uncovered as long as you can.

All it needs now is a bit of bacon to wrap around but if you skip that bit, it will still be excellent. The secret now is in the timing: and I got that on Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall’s authority.

wrap venison in bacon

The haunch, wrapped in bacon or not, needs an initial heat blast of 20 minutes at 220C. That provides browning; you can sear it in a hot pan but I’m sure you’ll agree it’s cleaner, easier and less smoky to let it happen in the oven. Then the temperature needs to go down as rapidly as possible to 170C – let the oven door open for a while on an electric oven – and the venison cooking time is 10 minutes per 500g (9 minutes per pound). That’s it – it will produce medium rare meat which is always tenderer than medium, which is tenderer than well done.

Rest before serving

After all the ordeals by water, salt and fire, the roast needs a rest. After twenty minutes it will still be warm, fear not, and taste absolutely amazing, like a good beef topside roast.

rest venison roast

Did I mention the chocolate sauce? Oh well, it really deserves a whole post on its own…

Roast venison with chocolate sauce

Servings: 4-5Time: 1 hour plus salting and brining


  • 1 kg (2 pounds) venison haunch, boned
  • 2-3 tbsp. fine sea salt
  • 5-6 rashers of streaky bacon (for roasting)
  • For the brine:
  • 4 sprigs of rosemary
  • 4 sprigs of tarragon
  • 4 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 1 tbsp. dark brown sugar
  • 1 tbsp. juniper berries, crushed
  • 1 tbsp. black peppercorns
  • 1 tsp crushed mace
  • For the chocolate sauce:
  • oil, for frying
  • venison trimmings
  • ½ red onion
  • bay leaf
  • 200ml (scant cup) dry red full-bodied wine
  • 300ml (1¼ cup) beef stock
  • 30g (2 tbsp.) best quality dark chocolate chips (70% cocoa solids)


1. Trim any fat or tendons from the outside of the haunch and reserve them for the sauce. Season the meat with salt all over liberally, place it on a plate and keep in the fridge for 24 hours.

2. Prepare the brine: place the rosemary and other ingredients in a large pan, half-fill it with water and bring it to the boil. Immediately take it off the heat and let it cool to room temperature. When it’s cold, immerse the meat in the brine, scrape all the salt and juices in, cover the pan and keep it in the fridge for 24 hours.

3. Remove the meat from the brine, place it on a plate and dry in the fridge for at least 2 hours or overnight.

4. Prepare the chocolate sauce base: brown the trimmings in a skillet with a little oil. Chop the onion roughly and add to the skillet with the bay leaf. Cook for 5-10 minutes until everything’s browned.

how to cook red wine sauce base

5. Pour in the wine, let it bubble away until it’s almost gone. Pour in the stock and simmer for 30 minutes until it’s reduced. Strain the sauce base into a jug – there will be about 100-150ml.

6. Preheat the oven to 220C/425F/gas 7.

7. Wrap the bacon rashers over the top side of the venison. Tie them round the joint with kitchen string, sit the meat on a roasting tray and transfer to the oven. Roast for 20 minutes, then turn the heat down to 170C/325F/gas 3. Roast for another 10-12 minutes per 500g of meat for medium-rare. Make it 10 for rare and 12 for just pink in the middle.

8. Transfer the meat onto a warm plate and cover loosely with foil. Let it rest in a warm place for 20 minutes.

9. Scrape the burnt bits from the roasting tray into a small saucepan (or put the tray on the hob). Add the sauce base, bring it to the boil, turn it down and add the chocolate. Stir to melt it and keep warm.

how to cook chocolate sauce for venison

10. When the meat has rested, pour the juices into the chocolate sauce.

11. Carve the venison thinly and serve with the sauce on the side, plus some roasted vegetables and potatoes.

NEW recipe finder

Ingredients lying around and no idea what to cook with them? Then use my NEW Recipe Finder for inspiration!

Recipe Finder

Leave a reply

Your email address will not be published

Characters left 800
Recipe rating
Email address*
Web site name
Be notified by email when a comment is posted

* required

Cuisine Fiend's

most recent

About me

Hello! I'm Anna Gaze, the Cuisine Fiend. Welcome to my recipe collection.

I have lots of recipes for you to choose from: healthy or indulgent, easy or more challenging, quick or involved - but always tasty.


Sign up to receive the weekly recipes updates

Follow Fiend