Venison Crostini w/ Black Trumpet Gremolata  

The gremolata used in this dish is an unusual one, combining preserved lemon (instead of fresh) and black trumpets with more typical parsley.  One taste though, and you’ll be looking for other dishes to add it to (perhaps venison osso bucco?).
Ingredients:                                               Servings: 4 Lunch or 6 Appetizer
1 Venison Tenderloin
1 ounce Dried Black Trumpet Mushrooms
6 cups Water
2 T minced Preserved Lemon
3 T minced Italian Parsley
1 T Peppery Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 head Cauliflower
1 + 1 T High Heat Cooking Oil (Canola, Safflower or Grapeseed)
1 T Unsalted Butter
1 t freshly ground Black Pepper
1 + ½ t Salt
Loaf of Artisanal Bread

  1. Use the stove or microwave to get the water very hot (but not quite boiling). Pour it over the mushrooms and weight them down with a plate so they stay below the surface.
    Soak the mushrooms until tender (15-30 minutes), then remove them from the water.


  3. Set your oven to 350 degrees. Mix together the black pepper and ½ teaspoon of salt in a small bowl.

  5. Cut the cauliflower into approximately equal-sized florets and place them in a sauce pot. Cover them with most of the mushroom rehydrating liquid (leave the last cup, with any collected sediment, behind).
    Add water as necessary to cover the cauliflower by at least an inch.  Bring to a simmer and cook until the cauliflower has become tender, but isn’t falling apart.

  7. Dry the mushrooms with a towel, then put them in a hot frying pan oiled with 1 tablespoon of the high heat oil. Sprinkle the mushrooms with 1 teaspoon of the salt, give them a quick stir to coat them with the salt and oil, then leave them be.
    Once they’ve caramelized and their moisture has evaporated, they should be smelling wonderful.  Remove them from the pan and set them side to cool.


  1. Rub the venison loin with the salt & pepper mixture. Heat the remaining tablespoon of high heat oil in an oven-safe frying pan or skillet.


Sear the venison tenderloin on all sides until it develops a brown crust, then move the pan to the oven and roast until it reaches an internal temperature of 130 degrees.


  1. Remove the pan from the oven and the tenderloin from the pan. Put the venison on a plate, loosely covered with foil, to rest for 10-15 minutes.

  3. While the venison is resting, use a blender to puree the cauliflower with the butter and some of the simmering liquid (add one or two tablespoons at a time until it reaches the right consistency). Taste & season as necessary.

  5. Make the gremolata: chop the mushrooms and mix them with the parsley, extra virgin olive oil and preserved lemon. Taste and add salt and pepper if necessary.

  7. Thinly slice the bread and toast it in the oven or a toaster oven.  Spread cauliflower puree on each piece, top it with thin slices of the venison, then a teaspoon of the gremolata. 
  8. Serve.



Farmer Spotlight – The Aclands at Mt. Peel

John Acland’s family immigrated to New Zealand from the south of England in 1854, settling Mt. Peel and starting a farm there.


Mt. Peel’s 12,000 acres of land ranges from river flats (approx. 3,700 acres) to foothill country that makes up the rest of the farm.  The Aclands run a mixture of 13,000 sheep, 2,000 cattle and 6,000 deer on that land.  Over the most recent period they’ve been increasing their stock numbers, but now they’re in a consolidation period where they’re focusing on developing the land and their husbandry to better finish the animals in a shorter period of time. 

Asked what it’s like farming deer, John says they’re majestic creatures, but trickier to handle than the more docile sheep and cattle.  They’re more easily frightened and their jumping ability requires 6’ fences to keep them in pasture.  That said, they’re also more self-sufficient, living as if wild in his hill country without human supervision for seven to eight months at a time.


John’s goals include farming sustainably and profitably in order to have a fruitful farm to pass down to future generations.  In the shorter term he’d like to see more of his steers grade into Silver Fern’s more exclusive programs like the Reserve program.


John gets a kick out of knowing his meat is being enjoyed in the US.  He’s always been interested in asking where the meat comes from when dining out,

and he’s happy to know that his farm is the answer at some high end American restaurants.


If he could send a message along with the meat, he’d say that customers can rest assured that the meat they’re buying was produced in an animal friendly & ethical way, brought up truly free range, in some of the best farming country in the world.  It couldn’t be raised in a better place.


For his own part, John’s favorite cut is a porterhouse steak cooked on the barbeque, though he’s also partial to venison fillet/backstrap and a good frenched rack of lamb.


Working with Silver Fern Farms today is an easy decision for the Aclands.  They’ve worked with the coop for a long time, and feel they have a good working relationship where they can discuss anything and be heard.  They’ve always looked out for the Aclands’ interests, and that makes them loyal.



Merino Shoulder Racks & “Adobo” Gastrique

This recipe marinates delicate, delicious merino shoulder racks in a sauce inspired by Philippine adobo, packed with sweet, tangy, umami savoriness.  Once the racks are pulled out of the marinade, it’s simmered down with honey into a thick, sweet & sour gastrique sauce.


We recommend serving this dish with white rice and a nice green salad.


Servings: 2


2 Merino Shoulder Racks

3/4 C Honey Wine Vinegar

1 T Tamari Soy Sauce

1 Bay Leaf

1 T Fish Sauce

8 cloves of crushed Garlic

1 t crushed Black Peppercorns

1/4 C Honey

1-2 T Neutral High Heat Oil



  1. Combine the vinegar, tamari, bay leaf, garlic, fish sauce & peppercorns.  Pour them over the shoulder racks in a bowl or ziplock bag.  Marinate the racks in the refrigerator overnight, flipping them periodically for even coverage.

  3. Remove the racks from the marinade, and pour the marinade through a strainer, reserving the liquid. Pat the racks dry with paper towels.

  5. Sear the racks in a hot, oiled skillet or frying pan over medium-high heat, at least three minutes per side.

  7. Reduce the heat and continue to sear the racks until they reach an internal temperature of 125 degrees on a meat thermometer.


  1. Remove the racks from the pan and let them rest, loosely covered with foil, for 15 minutes before optionally slicing into chops.

  3. While the racks are resting, pour the honey into a small saucepan and cook it over medium-low heat until it darkens. Add the reserved marinade and stir. Continue to cook, stirring, until the sauce reaches a syrup consistency.

  5. Serve the merino racks whole or as chops, drizzled with the gastrique.



Farmer Spotlight – William & Karen Oliver

William & Karen Oliver own Waerenga and Three Rivers farms. Waerenga had previously been owned by Oliver’s family with the two of them leasing the land until 2013 when they bought it outright.  They live on Waerenga farm with their daughter and two sons.

Waerenga farm comprises 1,912 acres of land.  Here the Olivers raise over 3,000 sheep, over 500 cattle and over 1,700 deer.  They also grow about 40 acres of corn, which they sell to the dairy industry.

Three Rivers

Three Rivers is slightly smaller than Waerenga at 1,902 acres.  Here the Olivers raise over 3,000 sheep, over 300 cattle and over 1,000 deer.  They also grow over 123 acres of corn.

What’s rewarding about farming for you?

Healthy animals, living in a beautiful place with clean air, clean water and green grass.  We enjoy a happy work environment with our staff and their families.


What’s it like raising venison?

Deer are a beautiful animal to farm.  They are intelligent which means we are constantly trying to outsmart them!! The deer on the farm are always watching and are aware of what we are doing, they remind me of a cowboy and indian movie, how the indians are lined up on a ridge watching the cowboys.


After 3 decades of farming deer they have become quite domesticated and are a lot easier to handle physically in the shed when they come in for animal health treatments etc.

How does it make you feel to know Americans are enjoying your venison?

We think it is great, there is a great sense of pride in knowing that a top end product we have produced is so sought after and enjoyed.  We feel proud also knowing that our animals have lived a good healthy existence here.

What’s your favorite cut of venison? How do you like it prepared?

Venison tenderloin served with a horseradish cream.


Why do you work with Silver Fern Farms?

We put huge value on working with co-operatives.  Nearly all our business is done through co-ops where we can.  We do this as we believe it is the only way for us to receive fair value from our end consumer or service supplier….We own shares in all the co-ops we do business with.  We are 100% loyal to our co-ops and expect the same back in terms of return, information and industry good.


Goals for the Future

William & Karen’s goals primarily center around further developing their farm land, providing a stimulating & enjoyable environment for their staff, and passing the land on to their children when they retire.



Classic Italian Braised Grass-Fed Short Ribs

These braised boneless short ribs are rich, tender, and incredibly delicious.  We recommend serving them with polenta, as we have here.

Servings: 8


4 lbs. Boneless Grass-Fed Beef Short Ribs

High Heat Oil (Canola, Safflower or Grapeseed)

1 chopped Onion

2 chopped Carrots

One 28-oz can Crushed Tomatoes

1 T Ground Allspice
6 minced cloves of Garlic

2 C Red Wine

2 C Beef Stock

1 Bay Leaf

2 sprigs of Thyme
Salt and Pepper


Recommended Side: Polenta



  1. Preheat your oven to 300 degrees. Dry off the short ribs and season them liberally with salt & pepper.

  3. Sear the spare rib pieces in an oiled pot or dutch oven until they develop a brown crust, turning to sear all sides.

  5. Remove the short ribs from the pot and add the onion and carrots. Saute the vegetables until they soften and the onion is starting to brown, then add the garlic.  Continue to cook, stirring, until you can smell the garlic.

  7. Pour in the red wine, scraping the bottom of the pot to free any browned bits. Simmer to reduce the whine by half, then add the stock, herbs & spices and the can of tomatoes.

  9. Return the short ribs to the pan and heat until the liquid comes to a simmer.

  11. Move the pot to the oven and braise until the meat is tender (around 2 ½ hours).

  13. Remove the pot from the stove and remove the short ribs to a clean plate.

  15. Strain the braising liquid into a new pot and simmer it until it coats the back of a spoon.

  17. Serve the short ribs with the sauce and your choice of sides.



Venison Tenderloin w/ Celery Root Puree

Silver Fern Farms Cervena venison is so good that the dish need not be complicated to show it off.  Here we’ve paired a simple seared tenderloin with a creamy, nutty celery root & brown butter puree.
Drink Pairing: Left Bank Bordeaux Wine
Servings: 2-4
1 Venison Tenderloin
2 T High Heat Oil (Canola, Peanut or Safflower)
1 T Marcona Almonds, diced
1 t High Quality Balsamic Vinegar
1 Large Celery Root, cubed
¼ C Unsalted Butter
½ C Chicken Stock, as low salt as possible
2 t Lemon Juice
Olive Oil
Salt & Pepper

  1. Remove the silver skin from the tenderloin by pushing the point of your knife underneath it, slice to remove one end of it from the meat, then pull up on the silverskin while cutting underneath it until it comes away.  Repeat with the rest of the silver skin.

  3. Tie tight loops of butcher’s twine around the tenderloin, pulling the trailing pieces of muscle in and compacting the meat.

  5. Put the butter in a small frying pan and melt it over medium high heat.  Continue to cook until it develops brown specks and smells nutty.

  7. If your marcona almonds aren’t pre-fried & salted (most are), toast them in an unoiled frying pan until they’re lightly browned and smell nutty.  Whether they’re pre-fried or toasted, dice them.

  9. Peel & cube the celery root, then simmer it in heavily salted water until fork tender.

Remove the celery root cubes from the water and combine them with the browned butter, lemon juice and chicken stock.  Blend everything to a smooth puree.

  1. Oil a frying pan and get it very hot (over high heat).  Season the tenderloin with salt & pepper, then sear it in the pan until it reaches your desired doneness (125 degrees for rare, 130 for medium rare).


If you’re concerned about cooking it all the way through before the outside gets overdone, you can move it to a 400 degree oven after a brief sear and roast until it reaches your target temperature.

  1. When the tenderloin has cooked, cut the twine off of it and put it on a clean plate to rest.  Loosely cover the plate with foil to help keep it warm.

  3. Slice the rested tenderloin into medallions.

  5. Serve the medallions with the parsley root puree and the vegetable side of your choice, finished with a drizzle of the balsamic vinegar and a sprinkling of diced marcona almonds.



Merino Lamb Musubi Burger

This burger recipe, inspired by the Hawaiian Spam classic, uses an Asian-fusion Merino lamb burger patty between “buns” of sushi rice seasoned with sour Japanese plums.  The finished dish is playful and really tasty.


Ingredients:               Servings: 4

Four Merino Lamb Burgers (or 32oz ground Merino Lamb)

1 t Gochujang

1 t finely chopped Ginger

1 C Sushi Rice

4 Nori Sheets

2 T Oyster Sauce

4 Japanese Sour Plums (Umeboshi)

2 Garlic Cloves

1 t Soy Sauce


1.  Cook the sushi rice according to the instructions on the package.  If they call for seasoning the rice (with rice wine vinegar, etc), omit that step.


2.  Mince the plums and stir them into the rice, then spread it out in a square dish (about ¾” deep) to cool.


3.  Mix the Merino with the gochujang, ginger, oyster sauce, soy sauce & garlic.  Form it into four patties.


4.  Cook the burger patties using your preferred method (grilling tips).


5.  Preheat your oven to 350˚F.


6.  Cut the rice into disks roughly similar in size to the cooked burger patties.


7.  Sandwich each patty between two rice “buns”.


8.  Wrap each finished burger with a strip of nori.


9.  Bake the burgers in the oven until the rice has warmed through.


10.  Serve.



Spiced Venison Rib Chops with Coconut Sauce

This venison rack is coated with a Sri Lanca-inspired spice rub, then roasted to rare/medium rare before being sliced into rib chops.  A rich, creamy coconut milk sauce keeps the spices from getting too overpowering.

Colatura is an Italian fish sauce that has a more delicate flavor than Southeast Asian varieties.  Here it’s used to sneak a little more umami into the coconut sauce.

Drink Pairing: Napa Valley Merlot Wine

Servings: 4-8


Venison Rack:
1 8-Bone Venison Rack
¼ C of Coriander
1 Cinnamon Stick
1 t Whole Fennel Seed
1 t Whole Cardamom
½ t Fenugreek Seeds
2 T Whole Cumin
1 t Mustard Seed
1 Dried Aji Amarillo Chile
½ C Curry Leaves
1 t White Rice
¼ t Whole Cloves
1 T Salt
High Heat Oil for Searing (Canola, Grapeseed, Safflower)

Coconut Sauce:
1 can Coconut Milk
1 tsp Colatura Fish Sauce
1 tbsp Lemon Juice
¼ tsp Salt

Fried Curry Leaves (Garnish):
Curry Leaves
1 tbsp Canola Oil


  1. Set your oven to 400 degrees.

  3. Toast all the spices for the rack, and the chile, in an unoiled frying pan until they’re aromatic and lightly browned.

  5. Once the chile is cool enough to touch, tear it apart and shake out, then discard all the seeds.

  7. Grind all the spices together in a clean coffee grinder or spice grinder.

  9. Remove the silver skin from the rack by pushing the point of your knife underneath it, cut to remove one end from the rack, then pull up on the silverskin while cutting underneath it until it comes away.  Repeat with the rest of the silver skin.

  11. Cut the intercostal meat off of the rack (the thin layer of meat above the rib bones, separated from the eye by a layer of fat & silver skin), and trim any more revealed silver skin off.

  13. Rub the cleaned rack with the spice mixture.

  15. Sear the rack on all sides over medium heat in an oven-safe frying pan coated with high heat oil.

  17. Roast the rack to 125 degrees for rare, 130 for medium rare.

  19. Remove the pan from the oven and put the rack on a clean plate to rest.  Loosely cover it with foil and leave it be for at least fifteen minutes.

  21. While the rack is resting, fry the curry leaves – put the tablespoon of canola oil in a pan and get it very hot.  Add the curry leaves to the oil and stir them until they crisp up.  Scoop them out of the oil and put them on a paper towel.  Sprinkle them with salt.

  23. Pour the coconut milk into the pan where you fried the curry leaves.  Bring it to a simmer and add any juices that have collected on the plate where the venison is resting.  Continue to cook until the sauce has reduced in volume by one third.

  25. Add the lemon juice, colatura fish sauce and the salt.

  27. Slice the rack between the bones into individual bone-in venison chops.

  29. Serve the chops with the sauce and curry leaves (plus any sides you want).



Venison Medallions with Roasted Endive

Silver Fern Cervena leg meat is exceptionally tender and flavorful and can be seared, then roasted the same way you would a rack or tenderloin with similarly delicious results.  Here we’ve paired it with bitter roasted endive and fruity, tangy balsamic glazed grapes.
Drink Pairings: Amarone or Valpolicella Wine
Servings: 2-4
1 pound of Venison Denver Leg
3 C Black Grapes
6 Endives
1 T Butter
1 1/2 t Salt
1 C Chicken Stock
1/4C + 1 T Balsamic Vinegar
1 t Chopped Thyme, plus extra for garnish
Safflower, Grapeseed or Canola Oil
Finishing Salt

  1. Preheat your oven to 400 degrees.

  3. Cut the endives in half and put them in an oven-safe frying pan with the cut side down.

  5. Add the chicken stock, butter, teaspoon of salt and tablespoon of balsamic vinegar to the pan.

  7. Cover the pan & put it in the oven for thirty minutes.

  9. Remove the cover and return the pan to the stove, continuing to roast the endives for thirty more minutes, until the liquid has evaporated and they’ve browned.

  11. Season the venison with salt & pepper.  Oil a frying pan and get it very hot.  Sear the venison on each side until it develops a browned crust, then move the pan to the oven to roast until the venison reaches your preferred doneness (125 degrees for rare, 130 for medium rare).

  13. Take the venison out of the pan and put it on a clean plate.  Loosely cover it with foil and let it rest for 15 minutes before slicing against the grain.

  15. While the venison is resting, halve the grapes and put them in an oiled frying pan – cut side down.  Cook them over medium heat until caramelized, then add the remaining quarter cup of balsamic and half teaspoon of salt.

  17. Bring the balsamic to a simmer and cook it down to a syrup consistency.  Add the chopped thyme.

  19. Serve the venison with the endives and grapes, sprinkled with a little thyme and finishing salt.



Chard & Chevre Merino Lamb Burger

This burger is packed with flavor, easy to make, and a lighter, fresher-tasting alternative to the common lamb burger.


Ingredients:                   Servings: 4

4 Merino Lamb Burgers (or 32oz Ground Merino)

4oz Chevre

8 Chard Leaves

4 T Prepared Horseradish (we used a beet horseradish)

Garlic Clove

1 t chopped Thyme

1 t Worcestershire Sauce

½ t Red Chile Flake

1 t Fennel, ground

1 t Cumin, ground

4 Buns


1.  Preheat your oven to 350˚F.  Mince the garlic & tear the ribs from the chard leaves.


2.  Mix together the Merino, thyme, Worcestershire, chile flakes, cumin, fennel & garlic.


3.  Make the lamb blend into four patties.


4.  Toast the buns.


5.  Cook the burger patties using your preferred method (grilling tips).


6.  Put an ounce of chevre on the bottom half of each bun.  Bake these portions in the oven until the cheese melts.


7.  Remove the buns from the oven and top the chevre on each bun with a tablespoon of horseradish.


8.  Top the horseradish with a burger patty, then top the patty with a chard leaf and the top bun. Serve.