What Does “Cervena” Venison Mean?

“Cervena” is a controlled appellation & marketing term created by the New Zealand venison industry in the late 1980s to separate their best venison from the rest available on the market.  It’s derived from combining the Lain word for deer (cervidae) with “venison.”
With the “Cervena” name comes a set of minimum standards designed to ensure tenderness and flavor.
Cervena venison must be from New Zealand deer:

  • Raised free range on pasture
  • Fed only on grass, and in case of winter month shortages only supplemented with natural feed
  • Raised without growth hormones or steroids
  • Naturally raised
  • Under three years old at time of processing
  • Transported and processed to strict, audited quality standards

So the term “Cervena Venison” means a lot on a package, but also leaves room for companies to go above and beyond.  Silver Fern Farms produces some of the best, most consistent venison on the market.



Sweet/Tangy/Spiced Venison Jerky

Venison jerky is lean, high in protein, and easy to take with you on the go.  This version is flavored with soy sauce, chilies, and spices for a complex, satisfying flavor.
Adapted from Hank Shaw of Hunter Angler Gardener Cook
1.25# Venison Denver Leg
½ C Tamari Soy Sauce
½ Dried Ancho Chile
1 large Dried Aji Amarillo Chile
1 t Black Peppercorns
1 t Instacure #1 (aka Pink Salt)
Juice of 1 Lemon
½ t Whole Allspice
½ t Aleppo Pepper
1 t Sea Salt
2 T Sugar

  1. Trim off any silver skin from the Denver leg muscle(s) and partially freeze until very stiff, but still sliceable (2-3 hours).

  3. Slice the venison across the grain into ¼” or thinner slices.

  5. Toast the chilies, black pepper and allspice in a dry frying pan over medium-high heat, until they become more fragrant. Grind them with the Aleppo pepper and sea salt into a fine powder.  Coat the venison slices with the rub.

  7. Combine the soy sauce, instacure, sugar and lemon juice in a bowl and whisk to combine.

  9. Put the sliced venison in a large zip top bag and pour the soy sauce mixture over it. Knead to coat the meat as fully as possible.  Refrigerate for 24-48 hours.

  11. Lay the slices of venison out on dehydrator racks with room around each piece. Dehydrate for two hours at 160 degrees, then dehydrate at 145 degrees for a further two hours before checking.  Continue to dehydrate until the jerky has the texture you prefer.

  13. Enjoy! Store in your fridge for weeks, or (if dried until brittle) vacuum packed at room temperature for longer.



What do Silver Fern Farms deer eat?

New Zealand’s mild, temperate climate is ideal for growing plentiful grass.  Silver Fern Farms deer consume a grass-based diet, grazing predominantly on rye grass, native grasses (tussocks, etc) and herbs such as chicory.
In the winter, their diet can be supplemented with crops grown on the farms during the summer – primarily grass based, along with some crops.
This diet, along with the deer’s pastured, free range lifestyle, excellent genetics and Silver Fern Farms’ tight quality controls ensure consistently top notch venison.



Braised Merino Lamb Shanks, Flageolets & Sausage

This France-meets-North Africa dish is inspired by (but is much faster than) classic French cassoulet.  Tender braised lamb shanks atop cassoulet beans seasoned with spiced merguez lamb sausage & bright, umami-rich preserved lemon.
Servings: 4
4 Merino Shanks (hindshanks or foreshanks)
2 Rosemary Sprigs
2 Sage Sprigs
2 Thyme Sprigs
1 Orange, washed & halved
1 Onion, peeled & halved
1 Carrot, peeled & halved
2 Celery Stalks, halved
1 Bottle of Red Wine
4 + 6 C Beef Stock
2 Merguez Sausages
1 Onion, finely diced
2 C Dried Flageolet Beans
1 Preserved Lemon, pith removed & remainder finely diced

  1. Cover the flageolet beans with water & let them soak overnight.

  3. Preheat your oven to 300F.

  5. Get an oiled pot or dutch oven very hot. Add the merino lamb shanks and cook, turning them, just until they’ve developed a browned crust on all sides.

  7. Remove the shanks from the pot to a clean plate.

  9. Add the halved vegetables & orange to the pan, searing them until caramelized.

  11. Pour in the red wine & four cups of the beef stock, then add the herbs & return the lamb shanks to the pan.

  13. Bring the liquid to a simmer, then cover the pot, reduce the heat to low, and braise for 2 hours or until the meat is very tender.

  15. While the lamb is braising, remove the merguez sausages from their casings. Get a separate pot hot over medium heat and crumble in the sausage meat.  Sear it until well browned, then add the diced onion, continuing to cook until it turns translucent.

  17. Drain the soaking liquid off the beans & add them to the pot with the sausage.

  19. Stir in the preserved lemon and the remaining (6 cups) of beef stock. Bring the liquid to a simmer and cook for 20-25 minutes (until the beans are tender).

  21. Remove the shanks from the braising liquid. Serve them with the beans and, if desired, an herb salad.

Recipe by Jake Vorono



Grass-Fed Beef Tri Tip with Yuzu Butter


Citrusy, creamy with delectable umami, this yuzu butter sauce is a perfect accompaniment to the clean, beefy flavor of a grass-fed tri tip roast.


Servings: 6-8


1 Grass-Fed Angus Tri-Tip (approx. 2 1/2lbs)

Yuzu Butter:

3 tbsp Yuzu Juice
2 tbsp Tamari Soy Sauce
1 tsp Green Yuzu Kosho
4 tbsp Unsalted Butter
1 scant tablespoon Sugar
Salt to Taste


Recommended Side: Microgreen Salad with a Vinaigrette



  1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.

  3. Trim any large fat deposits & silver skin off of the tri tip roast.

  5. Oil a large, oven-safe frying pan or skillet & get it very hot over medium-high heat. Sear the tri tip in it, turning, until all sides develop a brown crust.

  7. Move the try tip to the oven (in the pan) and roast it to an internal temperature of 120 degrees (for rare/medium rare).

  9. While the tri tip is roasting, make the yuzu butter. Combine the yuzu juice, sugar, soy sauce and kosho in a small saucepan.  Heat gently until the sugar is dissolved.

  11. Put the sugar, yuzu juice, tamari & kosho in a small sauce pan. Heat gently, just until the sugar melts.

  13. Swirl in the butter in four batches, adding each following batch after the last one has melted in to the sauce. Once all four tablespoons are incorporated, taste & add salt as needed.
    Keep the pot warm until you’re ready to serve.
  14. Once the tri tip has reached a few degrees below your desired doneness, take it out of the oven and move it to a plate to rest, loosely tented with foil.

  16. Pour the juices from the roasting pan (plus any juices that accumulate on the resting plate) into the butter.

  18. Slice the tri tip and serve it surrounded with the yuzu butter, along with your choice of sides.



Venison Tenderloin with Potato Dumplings

Giant gnocchi act as little pillows for venison medallions drizzled with a bright, herby salsa verde.
Drink Pairing: Argentinian Malbec Wine
Servings: 2-4
1 Venison Tenderloin
½ C Low Salt Chicken Stock
¼ C Red Wine
½ t Sherry Vinegar
3 T Unsalted Butter
1 T Canola or Grapeseed Oil
Potato Dumplings:
½ C Cake Flour
3 Egg Yolks
1 pound Russet Potatoes
1 t Salt
Salsa Verde:
1 t Raisins
1 t Sherry Vinegar
6 Almonds
¼ t Anchovy Paste
½ C Fresh Italian Parsley with stems
¼ C Fresh Cilantro with stems
Pinch of Red Chile Flake
½ cup + 3 tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Lemon Zest to Taste
Salt & Pepper to Taste

  1. Preheat your oven to 400 degrees.

  3. Poke all the russet potatoes repeatedly with a fork.  Roast them in the oven for an hour and a half.

  5. Remove the potatoes from the oven and when they’re cool enough to handle cut open the skins and scrape out the inner flesh.  Run this through a potato ricer or a food mill.

  7. Mix the potatoes with the egg yolks and salt until well combined.  Very gently mix in a quarter cup of the cake flour.

  9. Pour the dumpling dough out on to a counter or cutting board floured with the remaining cake flour and gently roll it into a cylinder (approximately two inches thick).  Slice it into ½” thick medallions, patting them with some of the flour.

  11. Trim the silverskin from the tenderloins.

  13. Tie a series of loops of butcher’s twine around the tenderloin, pulling each one taut to compact the meat and pull any trailing pieces into the body of the tenderloin.  Season it with salt & pepper.

  15. Blend together all the salsa verde ingredients in a blender.

  17. Optional: Pour the sauce into a fine mesh strainer above a bowl and let the oil drip out.  Do not press on the herb mixture, you want the oil to be nice & clear.

  19. Bring a pot of salted water to a boil.  Add the dumplings in batches, simmering until they float to the surface.
    As each dumpling floats, remove it from the water with a slotted spoon.

  21. Melt two tablespoons of the butter in a wide frying pan.  Cook until the butter has stopped foaming, then add the boiled dumpling.

  23. Cook the dumplings until they’re browned on one side, then flip them, remove the pan from the heat, and sprinkle them with a little salt.

  25. Get the canola/grapeseed oil hot in a different large skillet/frying pan over high heat.  Add the tied tenderloin and sear it on all sides to an internal temperature of 125-130°F (rare-medium rare).
    If you’re concerned about reaching the right doneness without overcooking the outside of the tenderloin, you can move it to a 400°F oven after a quick sear and roast it the rest of the way.

  27. Remove the tenderloin from the pan, cut the twine off, and let it rest, loosely covered with foil.

  29. Deglaze the pan you cooked the tenderloin in with the stock & red wine.  Add the juices from the resting plate and simmer the mixture down to about a quarter cup of liquid.
    Take the pan off the heat and swirl in the remaining tablespoon of butter and sherry vinegar.

  31. Slice the tenderloin into medallions, and put one medallion on top of each dumpling on plates.

  33. Top each medallion with some of the salsa verde and some of the pan sauce.



Five Spice & Tea Rub for Grass-Fed Beef

This Chinese-inspired rub combines a blend of tea and spices for a complex, deliciously savory crust on grass-fed beef.
Ingredients:                       Makes Enough for Six Steaks
3 T Loose Leaf Black Tea (not Earl Grey)
1 t Five Spice Powder
1 t Black Pepper
1 t Garlic Powder
2 t Salt
1 t Onion Powder
1 t Chile Powder of Choice (depending on the heat level you want)

  1. Grind together all the ingredients in a spice grinder, mortar & pestle or clean coffee grinder.

  3. Coat your steaks, then wait at least 15 minutes before cooking.



Venison Strip Loin Cooked Sous Vide

Venison is very lean, making it an excellent candidate for sous vide cooking, which will help keep it moist and ensure perfectly cooked results.  In this recipe we’ve paired it with a fruity cherry sauce.


Servings: 6-8


1 Venison Striploin
1 Bay Leaf
1 sprig of Fresh Thyme
1 T Fruity Extra Virgin Olive Oil
½ C Frozen Sweet Cherries, thawed & drained
½ C of Juices from Frozen Cherry Package
1 Bay Leaf
2 sprigs of Fresh Thyme
1 C Beef Stock
1 T Pomegranate Molasses
1 t Sugar

1 T Cognac
Salt & Pepper



  1. Set your immersion circulator or sous vide water bath to 130F.

  3. Season the venison with salt and pepper, then vacuum pack it with the thyme and bay leaf in a sous-vide safe bag.

  5. Lower the bag into the sous vide bath and cook for 1 ½ hours.

  7. Near the end of the cooking time, combine the thawed cherries, liquid from their packaging, thyme, stock, sugar, cognac, pomegranate molasses and bay leaf in a small pan.

    Bring the mixture to a simmer and cook it down until the liquid coats the back of a spoon (about 10 minutes).


  9. When venison has finished cooking, cut the bag open and strain the collected juices into the cherry sauce. Continue to simmer the sauce until it has returned to the previous consistency, then taste it and add salt if needed.

  11. Get an oiled frying pan very hot and sear the venison in it over medium high heat. Turn the venison to sear it to a browned crust on all sides.

  13. Slice the venison and serve it with the sauce and your choice of sides.



Merino Lamb Racks with “Baba Ghanoush” Sauce


Perfectly roasted marinated Merino lamb racks served with bright pomegranate molasses and a creamy sauce inspired by baba ghanoush.

Servings: 4

2 Merino Lamb Racks

1/2 C Minced Shallot
1 sprig Rosemary Leaves, minced
Finely Grated Zest of ½ Orange
4 T Extra Virgin Olive Oil
2 cloves of Black Garlic
1 t Salt

Baba Sauce:

Part 1:
1 large Eggplant
1 t Chopped Fresh Rosemary
½ t Finely Grated Orange Zest
1 t Minced Shallot
2 t Honey
1 t Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1/2 t Fish Sauce
2 T Orange Juice
¼ t Salt

Part 2:
2 T Crème Fraiche
1 T Pomegranate Molasses
1 clove Black Garlic
1 t Salt

Finishing the Plate:
Pomegranate Molasses
Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Flake Sea Salt
Thinly Sliced Orange Zest
Thinly Sliced Mint Leaves


  1. Mash the two cloves of black garlic (separately) into a paste.  Rub each merino rack with one clove of the black garlic.

  3. Put both racks in one container with all the marinade ingredients (we recommend a zip top bag to promote even coverage.   Let them marinate at room temperature for 1 hour.

  5. Preheat your oven to 400 degrees.

  7. Remove the top from the eggplant, cut it in half and deeply score the inside flesh with a knife.

  9. In a small bowl, whisk together all the baba sauce – part 1 ingredients (besides the eggplant) from the list above.

  11. Drizzle this mixture over the eggplant, and rub it into the cut grooves.

  13. Cut the eggplant into large pieces and place it in a small roasting pan, cut-side up, and roast until soft.

  15. Scoop the flesh out of the eggplant and combine it in a food processer with the remaining baba sauce ingredients (part 2).  Process to a smooth puree.

  17. Remove the merino racks from the marinade. Pat them dry & sear them on all sides in a hot, oiled, oven-safe pan.

  19. Move the pan, with the lamb, to the oven and roast it to your desired level of doneness.

  21. Take the lamb racks out of the oven. Put them on a clean plate & loosely cover them with foil. Let them rest for 10 minutes before slicing into chops.

  23. Drizzle (swoosh) plates with some of the pomegranate molasses.  Spread some of the baba eggplant sauce on the plate.  Plate the merino chops above the sauce.

  25. Drizzle the lamb with extra virgin olive oil, then top it with a sprinkling of thinly sliced orange zest, flake salt to taste & thinly sliced mint leaves.  Serve.



Foie Gras Stuffed Burgers

Beefy grass-fed beef burgers stuffed with a molten center of rich, buttery foie gras.  Burgers don’t get much more luxurious than this!  No cheese necessary.
Drink Pairing: Syrah Wine                            Servings: 6
6 Burger Buns
6 Leaves of Romaine Lettuce
6 Slices Beefsteak Tomato
Stuffed Patties:
Six 1-Tablespoon Cubes of Foie Gras (we recommend Grade A or B)
2# Ground Grass Fed Angus Beef
½ cup Mayo
½ cup Ketchup
Salt & Pepper to Taste

  1. Separate the two pounds of ground beef into six portions. Stuff each portion with a cube of foie gras, enclosing it completely with the meat.  Sprinkle each patty with plenty of salt on both sides.

  3. Toast burger buns in a toaster, buttered pan, or on the grill.

  5. Mix together the sauce ingredients.

  7. Grill or pan sear the burger patties to your desired level of doneness.

  9. Serve the burgers on buns with the sauce, lettuce, and tomato.