Dariush Lolaiy's Chargrilled Venison with Cherry Sauce and Cauliflower

Prep time 30mins
cook time 1hr

Dariush Lolaiy is a multi award winning chef and cookbook author, hunter and co-owner at Cazador. Dariush’s speciality is serving game and free-range meats, and fresh, local produce with an emphasis on ethically sourced ingredients and minimal waste.

"You can feel the quality when you’re cooking with Lodge. There’s nothing better for achieving even and consistent cookery, the thermostability is ideal for my style of cuisine, and I love the sturdy feeling of a proper pan."


Spice Rub

  • ½ tsp star anise
  • ½ tsp chopped rosemary
  • ½ tsp garlic powder
  • ½ tsp black pepper
  • ½ tsp sugar
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 700 grams venison leg or loin (if using 1 large muscle cut it into 2 sections)

 Cherry Sauce

  • 500g dark sweet cherries, pitted
  • 100g sugar
  • Spice bag containing: 1 cinnamon stick, 5 cloves, 2 star anise, 8 peppercorns and 2 allspice berries
  • 100ml port


  • 1 head cauliflower
  • 1 shallot, peeled and finely diced
  • 200ml milk
  • 20g pine nuts, cooked in butter until golden
  • handful flat-leaf parsley, chopped
  • 50g raisins, soaked in cream sherry for 48 hours
  • juice of ½ lemon
  • small tin anchovies, to garnish


    Spice Rub

    Combine the star anise, chopped rosemary, garlic powder, black pepper, sugar and salt to make a spice rub. Coat the venison with the spice rub, cover and refrigerate for 48 hours in advance of cooking.

    Cherry Sauce

    In a saucepan, macerate the cherries in the sugar with the spice bag for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the port, then cook on a low heat for 20 minutes. Remove and discard the spice bag. Set aside half the cherries and blend the remaining cherries and liquid. When smooth, return the reserved whole cherries to the blended sauce.

    1. Cut the cauliflower head into large florets, then slice into 3 mm cross sections. Set aside the offcuts from the stems and broken florets for the puree. Toss the sliced florets with a little olive oil, season and set aside.
    2. Sweat the shallot in olive oil. While the shallot softens, cut the reserved cauliflower offcuts into small pieces then add them to the shallot with a knob of butter. Season with salt and pepper and gently cook on a low heat covered with a cartouche. After 8 minutes, add the milk and cook for a further 20 minutes, until the cauliflower is completely soft.
    3. Strain the cauliflower, but keep the cooking liquid. Using a blender, blend until completely smooth, adding the cooking liquid as necessary to achieve a purée consistency. Check the seasoning and set aside.
    4. Bring the venison to room temperature. Rub the venison with a little olive oil and sear on a hot grill for about 2-3 minutes each side, or until the internal temperature reaches 38ºC. Rest the venison for 4 minutes.
    5. Grill the sliced cauliflower florets for about 20 seconds on each side – the cauliflower should have visible grill lines and still be crunchy. Toss the grilled cauliflower with the pine nuts, parsley and sherry-soaked raisins. Season with salt and lemon juice. Set aside.
    6. To serve, cut the meat against the grain – aim for 1 cm wide slices. Lay the meat on top of the cherry sauce and scatter with the grilled cauliflower and pine nuts. Serve with cauliflower puree and garnish with a few anchovy fillets.