Juniper Spiced Venison and Greens Recipe

If you’re looking for a quick weeknight meal using all that ground venison you have in the freezer, I urge you to try this recipe. Radishes and greens might not be high on your list of favorite ingredients, but this is one of those times where you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover. This meal not only tastes better than it looks, but it’s also very healthy and economical.

Inspired by a humble African beef and collard green dish called sukuma wiki (translates “to stretch the week” in Swahili), I made my own variation using venison and a simple spice mix. Included in the spice mix are juniper berries that I foraged on a hike.

I love making different variations of this recipe using whatever greens I can find. Here I used an entire bunch of collards and a handful of baby kale. You’re in for a special treat if you’ve never had roasted radish. I added some shaved slices just before serving for a fresh finish.

If you can’t stand radishes you can sub in cherry tomatoes, which are traditionally used in sukuma wiki. Roasted potatoes, turnips and parsnips are really good substitutes as well.

Serving size

4+

Ingredients

1 lb. ground venison
1/2 yellow onion, sliced
2 large garlic cloves, minced
1-2 bunches of radishes, stems removed and halved
1 lemon
1-2 bunches of collard greens and/or kale, stems and ribs removed, leaves chopped
2 1/2 tsp. of the juniper spice mix (about 1/2 of the recipe below)
Salt and pepper to taste
Oil for cooking

Juniper spice mix
1 tsp dried juniper berries
2 tsp salt
1 tsp black pepper
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp dried thyme
1/4 tsp crushed red pepper

Also works with

Any ground meat

Method

1
  1. To make the juniper spice mix, add the juniper berries to a mortar and pestle and grind. Mix in the remaining ingredients and set aside until ready to use.
  2. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Season the radishes with about two tablespoons of oil, salt, pepper, the zest of 1/2 the lemon and a pinch of sugar. Spread across a sheet pan and roast in the oven for about 20-30 minutes, stirring occasionally until fork tender on the inside and crispy on the outside. 
  3. Heat a couple tablespoons of oil in a large sauté pan over medium-high heat. Once hot, add the ground venison in one flat layer. Let the venison brown fully on one side and then brown the opposite. Once brown on both sides, use a spatula to scrape and crumble into smaller pieces. Sprinkle in the 2 1/2 teaspoons of juniper spice mix. Remove the venison and set aside on a clean plate. Add an additional tablespoon of oil if needed and sauté the onion for a few minutes until starting to caramelize. Add the garlic. Cook for about one minute until fragrant and add the greens. Reduce the heat and season the greens with salt, pepper and squeeze in the juice of half a lemon. You may want to cover the sauté pan with a lid to help steam the greens. Once they’ve started to wilt you can return the ground venison to the pan along with the roasted radishes and mix together. Season the dish to taste and add any additional spice mix if necessary.