Pan-Seared Maple Venison

Root vegetables are the perfect complement to venison. Here they're marinated in maple syrup for a wonderfully subtle, sweet flavor.

1 cup maple syrup
1 tablespoon kosher (coarse) salt
8 (3-oz.) venison loin medallions (1 1/2 lb.)
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/4 cup diced pancetta* or bacon
1/4 cup diced carrot
1/4 cup diced onion
1/4 cup diced celery root or celery
1 tablespoon prepared horseradish
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1 tablespoon crushed juniper berries**
2 teaspoons chili powder
2 cups chicken broth
1 tablespoon butter, softened

1. In large resealable plastic bag, combine maple syrup and salt; mix well. Add venison; seal bag. Refrigerate a minimum of 1 hour or up to 12 hours to marinate, turning bag occasionally.

2. Heat oven to 325°F. Place wire rack in 15x10x1-inch baking pan. Remove venison from marinade; discard marinade. Pat venison dry.

3. Heat large skillet over medium-high heat until hot. Add oil; heat until hot. Add venison; cook 2 to 3 minutes or until browned, turning once. Place venison on rack in pan.

4. Bake 8 to 10 minutes for medium-rare to medium.

5. Meanwhile, heat same skillet over medium heat until hot. Add pancetta; cook until browned, stirring occasionally. Add carrot, onion and celery root; cook until vegetables begin to brown, stirring occasionally. Add horseradish, garlic, juniper berries and chili powder; mix well. Add stock; bring to a boil over high heat. Boil 10 to 15 minutes or until vegetables are crisp-tender and sauce is slightly thickened. Whisk in butter.

6. To serve, place vegetables on serving platter using slotted spoon. Top with venison. Pour sauce over venison and vegetables.

TIPS *Pancetta is an unsmoked rolled Italian bacon that is cured with salt and spices.

**Juniper berries, sold dried in the spice section, can be crushed by pressing them firmly with the side of a chef's knife.

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