Venison Tenderloin with Red Wine Reduction on Creamed Brussels Sprouts

Recipe courtesy of Sheetal Bhagat

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For the final Mystery Box Challenge, the six contestants were given one hour to create a stunning dish using venison. Wild game tends to be very lean and, consequently, can be tough and dry if not cooked properly.

None of the contestants had much experience cooking venison, and Sheetal, who doesn't eat meat, had never worked with venison before. So she was surprised-and elated-when the compliments started flowing for her pan-roasted venison tenderloin, which Joe lauded as "restaurant quality."


  • 4 bacon strips
  • 4 (5-to-6-ounce) venison tenderloin steaks (about 2 inches thick and 4 inches long), patted dry
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 8 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 3 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 2 shallots, minced
  • 3/4 cup dry red wine, such as Cabernet Sauvignon
  • 1/2 cup Beef Broth
  • 1 cup fresh blueberries, mashed
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1 pound Brussels sprouts, blanched
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream
  • Pinch of freshly grated nutmeg


  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F.

  2. Wrap a piece of bacon around the center of each piece of tenderloin and secure with a toothpick. Season with 1 teaspoon each salt and pepper. Pour 3 tablespoons of the oil in a large ovenproof skillet over medium heat. Add 2 thyme sprigs and 2 crushed garlic cloves and cook for 1 minute, or until fragrant. Lay the meat in the skillet and sear for 2 to 3 minutes per side, or until the bacon is crispy.

  3. Transfer the skillet to the oven and finish cooking for 7 minutes, for medium-rare (135° to 140°F). Remove and let rest for 15 minutes, covered with aluminum foil to keep the meat warm and moist.

  4. Meanwhile, heat the remaining 1 tablespoon oil in a pot over medium heat. Add half of the shallots and the remaining thyme and garlic. Season with salt and pepper, and sweat for about 30 seconds. Pour in the wine and broth. Bring to a boil, then lower the heat and cook for 7 minutes, reducing the liquid by half. Add the mashed blueberries (juice and pulp) and sugar. Season with salt and pepper. Stir the blueberries gently, and cook on medium-low heat for 10 minutes. Pass the blueberry sauce through a fine-mesh strainer and set aside.

  5. Slice the Brussels sprouts about 1/8 inch thick. Melt the butter in a skillet over medium heat. Add the remaining shallots, season with salt and pepper, and sweat for about 1 minute. Add the Brussels sprouts and cook for 2 minutes, tossing to coat and get some color. Pour in the cream and add the nutmeg. Simmer for 5 minutes, adjusting the seasoning at the end.

  6. To serve, cut the venison into 1/4-inch-thick slices. Place a pile of Brussels sprouts in the middle of the plate and crumble the bacon bits around. Fan the sliced venison over the Brussels sprouts and spoon the sauce on top.

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Venison Tenderloin with Red Wine Reduction on Creamed Brussels Sprouts