Wild Venison, Cherry and Chocolate by Simon Attridge, Executive Chef at Gleneagles

Since we reopened The Strathearn in May, this has been one of the most popular dishes on our new menu. It is a modern version of a classic combination. The dish is based on the traditional pairing of venison and chocolate and the addition of cherry brings an extra dimension. We created the dish so it’s light enough for summer but still full of rich, decadent flavours.

Wild venison is a great option if you’re looking to try something new. It’s a very healthy red meat due to the low-fat content. This also makes it incredibly tender and quick to cook. Venison is a great option if you’re looking for an alternative to steak for a special occasion or something a little different. This recipe is a real celebration of venison as it uses both the loin and the haunch, which we make into a delicious bon bon.

At The Strathearn, we finish the dish with a very special truffle granola. Whilst you might not think of granola as savoury, we make it with truffle, mushrooms and almonds to give the dish an extra special element. The dish is available on the a la carte menu in The Strathearn and it’s certainly a favourite with guests… and with me too.

At Gleneagles, we only use wild venison. We get ours from our friends at John Gilmore butchers. It is a third-generation butcher which specialises in the very best meat from around Scotland. They source the venison from a selection of Highland estates, so we know it’s the very best quality and this shows in the incredible flavour of the meat.

It’s important to remember that game isn’t just for the winter months as people can sometimes think. We use venison all year round at Gleneagles and everyone should be making the most of it, regardless of the time of year or you will be missing out on a fantastic ingredient!

For more information about The Strathearn or Gleneagles, visit https://www.gleneagles.com/.

Serves 4

For the venison bon bon and sauce:

  • 500g venison haunch
  • Rapeseed oil, for cooking
  • 50g chopped carrot
  • 50g diced onion
  • 50g chopped celery
  • 1 sprig thyme
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 750ml red wine
  • 10g Guanaja chocolate
  • Breadcrumbs, to coat the bon bons
  • Salt and pepper

For the cherry compote:

  • 250g sour cherries, pre-stoned
  • 60g caster sugar
  • 5g sherry vinegar
  • 60g cherry puree

For the chocolate emulsion:

  • 50g Guanaja 70% chocolate
  • 18g cocoa powder
  • 40g rapeseed oil
  • 10g hazelnut oil

For the mash potato:

  • 300g mashing potato, peeled
  • 400ml water
  • 10g salt
  • 75g butter

For the savoy cabbage:

  • 1 head of savoy cabbage
  • Salt

For the venison:

  • 800g venison loin, all silver skin removed, trim reserved for sauce
  • 100g unsalted butter
  • 3 sprigs thyme
  • Salt and pepper, for seasoning
  • Rapeseed oil, for frying


1. First, prepare the sauce and venison bon bon. In a hot pan, colour off the haunch with a little oil. Remove the meat from the pan once it is caramelised all over. Add the vegetables to the pan and cook until they are browned. Add the meat back to the pan along with the herbs and enough wine to cover the ingredients. Place a lid on the pan and cook in the oven at 150°C for 2 hours. Once cooked, allow the meat to cool in the cooking juices.

2. Once the meat is cool, prepare the bon bons. Shred the meat, discarding any fat and sinew and then add a little wine. Season to taste then roll into 20g balls. Coat each bon bon in breadcrumbs and deep fry until golden brown.

3. In the pan with the cooked vegetables and meat juices, add the remaining wine to make the sauce. Grate in the chocolate and then keep warm until you’re ready to serve.

4. Next, make the cherry compote. Quarter the cherries and add to a pan with the sugar, vinegar and puree. Cook slowly until the cherries are soft and the base of the pan is dry.

5. Next, make the chocolate emulsion. Mix all the ingredients together in a bowl and melt over a bain-marie. Once the ingredients are fully combined, emulsify the mixture with an electric hand blender.

6. Next, make the mash potato. Cook the potatoes in the salted water. Drain the water and allow the potatoes to dry out. Pass the potatoes through a drum sieve or potato ricer then whisk in the butter. Pass the mash through the sieve again to ensure the mixture is completely smooth.

7. Next, prepare the cabbage. Chop the cabbage very finely then blanch in boiling salted water. Once cooked, refresh in iced water and then drain thoroughly.

8. Finally, cook the venison. Season the meat all over with salt and pepper. In a hot roasting tray, colour the seasoned loin of venison in a little oil. Make sure to evenly sear the venison on all sides. Add the butter and thyme to the pan and baste the loin until it’s medium rare, this should take approximately 8 minutes. Continue to turn the loin regularly as it cooks. Once cooked, rest the meat on a cooling wire and then carefully pour over the butter. Let the meat stand for 10 minutes before carving.

9. To plate, use a pastry brush to paint a single stripe of chocolate emulsion across the plate. Pipe the mash potato onto the plate. Place the cabbage on the chocolate stripe and top with 3 slices of the rested venison loin. Quenelle the cherry compote on to the plate. Spoon the chocolate sauce around the meat and serve.