Game, wine, and fruit the combination makes me think of the comfort and warmth of a romantic country weekend. Since venison is a lean meat, you never cook it very long, which means you have more time to spend on each other. Because there is not a lot of fat and the meat itself has a big flavor, it complements the forward tastes in the red wine-cherry sauce. In the winter, there is no better choice to serve for a romantic dinner for two than this luscious meat. But if you can’t get venison, by all means substitute a pork tender-loin the preparation works equally well. Arrange each plate with as much attention as you would give to a plate at a formal meal for ten.
- 1 venison tenderloin (about 1 pound)
- 1 large clove garlic, cut into thin slivers
- 1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme, plus 6 sprigs
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
- 1 to 2 tablespoons olive oil
- ½ cup dry red wine or cranberry juice
- ½ cup dried cherries
- 1 tablespoon red currant jelly
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
- Position a rack in the center of the oven, and preheat the oven to 450°F.
- Pat the venison dry with a paper towel.
- With the tip of a sharp knife, make inch-deep slits in the meat and insert the garlic slivers. Pat the chopped thyme and the salt and pepper well onto the venison.
- Heat the olive oil in a nonstick skillet over medium heat and brown the meat well, turning it once, 5 to 6 minutes. Transfer the venison to a baking pan and place it in the oven.
- Roast the venison until it is medium-rare (about 125°F on an instant reading thermometer), 7 to 9 minutes. Transfer the meat to a cutting board and let it rest for 4 to 5 minutes before serving.
- While the meat is resting, place the wine, cherries, and 2 of the thyme sprigs in the skillet and bring to a boil, scraping up any brown bits. Whisk in the red currant jelly and then swirl in the butter.
- Slice the tenderloin ½ inch thick, and arrange the slices decoratively on two dinner plates. Spoon the hot cherry sauce on top and garnish with the remaining fresh thyme sprigs. Serve immediately.