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Updated: Nov 29, 2021

Fennel Crusted Venison Loin Recipe
Photo by Larry White

I don't think the holidays are complete without incorporating chestnuts into your menu somewhere. It's been a Christmas classic for years and I'm here to keep that tradition alive. And I know what you're thinking, who in their right mind is going to attempt to make homemade ravioli for a dinner guests during this busy season? Well, the answer's not me.

I'm using good ol' wonton wrappers. They may not be as luxurious as homemade pasta dough but they are damn good for this preparation. It cuts your prep time down by 3/4 along with your stress levels. Why try and be a hero when there's nothing to save? (It's so easy you can pawn the task off on your kids)


For the Wonton Ravioli

  • 1 cup - roasted and peeled chestnuts (pre-cooked are fine)

  • 1 cup - low sodium vegetable stock

  • 3 tablespoons - ricotta cheese

  • 1/4 cup - mascarpone cheese

  • 1/2 teaspoon - fresh thyme (chopped)

  • Salt and Pepper to taste

  • 12 oz pack - wonton wrappers

  • 1 - egg (beaten with a splash of water for the egg wash)

For the Port Wine Reduction

  • 2 cups - port wine

  • 2 cups - aged sherry vinegar

  • 3 tablespoon - butter (cut into small pieces)

For the Mushrooms

  • 12 oz - fresh cremini mushrooms (sliced)

  • 1 tablespoon - olive cooking oil or other high smoke point oil

  • Salt and Pepper

For the Venison

  • Venison Loin cut into 6 ounce fillets

  • 1/2 teaspoon - ground fennel (per fillet)

  • Salt and pepper as needed

  • Cooking oil as needed

Cooking the Sauce (This can be made up to 5 days ahead)

  1. In a small pot, bring the port wine to a simmer and reduce it by half its volume.

  2. Add the sherry vinegar and simmer for around 10 minutes or until the sauce looks like a syrup (it should coat the back of a spoon)

  3. Remove from the heat.

  4. One piece at a time whisk in the butter until it is fully incorporated into the sauce.

Cooking the Mushrooms (Can be cooked two days ahead)

  1. In a saucepan heat the oil until just starting to smoke.

  2. Cook the mushrooms for about 5 minutes or until tender.

  3. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

  4. Set aside

Assembling and Cooking the Ravioli

  1. Place the chestnuts and vegetable stock in a pot and simmer for about 15 minutes or until the chestnuts are tender.

  2. Place the chestnuts in a food processor and with the motor running add enough of the cooking liquid to make a thick puree.

  3. Place the chestnut puree, ricotta cheese, mascarpone and thyme in a bowl and mix well. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

  4. Working in batches lay out a few wonton wrappers and place around 1 teaspoon of the chestnut mixture in the center.

  5. With a brush or the tip of your finger brush a little of the egg wash mixture around the edges of the wonton wrapper.

  6. Lay another wonton wrapper over top of the filling.

  7. Starting around the filling start pressing and sealing the wrappers together while trying to get all of the air out.

  8. To cook place the ravioli in boiling water and cook for about 1 1/2 minutes and remove with a slotted spoon.

Cooking the Venison

  1. Bring the venison to room temperature for 30 minutes to an hour.

  2. Season each filet with the fennel and salt & pepper as needed.

  3. Cook your venison fillets in a hot pan or grill to your desired internal temperature and let rest for at least 5 minutes before cutting.

Bringing it all Together

  1. Place some ravioli on a plate and fan some venison pieces and mushrooms around.

  2. Drizzle with the warm port wine sauce.

  3. Garnish with fresh thyme and even some fresh chives if you have them.


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Meet Larry White

Chef Larry White

Hey folks, I'm Larry. The recipes you'll find here are inspired by my years as a chef, travels as a hunter, and being a father. I cook from these experiences, so my food ranges anywhere from fun and creative to traditional and to what somewhat family style comfort food.     

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