Whitetail Hunting photo

Photo by Johnny Miller

Great sauces are like an insurance policy for venison roasts , which can easily overcook or dry out. Beyond their ability to rescue, however, is the power to elevate. Here’s a trio of sauces for venison that do just that: a classic port-based Cumberland sauce, imported from England; a Cuban-inspired mojo sauce for some unlikely but delicious tropical flavor; and a flamed gin sauce that’s just about as much fun to prepare as it is to eat.

The Classic: Cumberland Sauce
(top fork in above photo)

-1 orange
-½ lemon, juiced
-1 cup ruby port
-2 Tbsp. red currant jelly
-¼ tsp. ground ginger
-Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste

Remove the zest from the orange and reserve. Juice the orange, and combine the juice in a small saucepan with the zest, lemon juice, port, red currant jelly, and ginger. Bring to a boil over medium heat, then reduce the heat to a simmer. Simmer for about 10 minutes, or until the wine has reduced and the mixture is glossy and syrupy, and easily coats a spoon.

The Curveball: Garlic and Cilantro Mojo Sauce
(middle fork in above photo)

-1 bunch cilantro, washed
-4 cloves garlic, peeled and roughly chopped
-1 tsp. salt
-¾ cup extra-virgin olive oil
-Sherry or red wine vinegar, to taste

Trim the thicker stems from the cilantro. Add the thinner stems and leaves to a blender with the garlic and salt. Process the mixture while slowly pouring in the olive oil. If the mixture is too thick, add a few tablespoons of water and pulse to combine–the mixture should be thick, but still pourable. Season to taste with a teaspoon or two of vinegar.

The Showstopper: Flamed Gin Sauce
(bottom fork in above photo)

-6 juniper berries
-½ cup red wine
-About 1 cup venison stock, or pan juices and/or chicken stock
-1 Tbsp. butter
-2 shallots, minced
-¼ cup gin
-Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste

1. Crush the juniper berries with the flat side of a knife and add them to a small saucepan with the red wine. Cook over medium heat until the wine has reduced to a syrupy consistency. Add the stock, and continue to cook until the stock has reduced as well. Reserve.

2. Melt the butter in a saute pan over medium-high heat and add the shallots. Cook for about 2 minutes, or until the shallots are soft and golden.

3. Proceed with caution: Remove the pan from the heat and add the gin. To ignite it, you can either return the pan to the stove and tilt the pan (gas stoves only) or light the mixture with a long-handled match. Stand back; the flames will be high. Once they have subsided, stir, and continue to cook until most of the gin has evaporated. Add the reserved wine-and-stock mixture, and cook until it coats a spoon. Drain the sauce through a fine-mesh sieve to remove the shallots, salt and pepper to taste, and return to the saucepan to keep warm.