GRILLED VENISON WITH ACORN SQUASH CAPONATA
Recipe by Mario Batali
Place the venison in a non-reactive, shallow casserole. In a small bowl, combine the juniper berries, rosemary sprigs, sliced garlic and 2 cups of the olive oil and pour over the venison. Cover the meat and refrigerate for at least 2 hours.
In the meantime, make the caponata. In a 12- to 14-inch sauté pan, heat one tablespoon of the olive oil until smoking. Add the red and white onions and the fennel and sauté until they are golden, about 5 minutes. Remove from the pan and transfer to a large mixing bowl. Sauté the butternut squash, celery root and celery individually, adding 1 tablespoon of the oil to the pan each time, and combining the sautéed ingredients in the bowl as you go. Gently stir in the capers, drained raisins, sweet garlic cloves, olives, pine nuts, roasted tomatoes and bell peppers. In a small bowl, combine the cocoa powder, red pepper flakes, orange juice, thyme, and sugar and add to the cooked ingredients, stirring gently to combine.
Preheat the grill. Remove the venison from the refrigerator, pat off the excess oil and season with salt and pepper. Grill the venison pieces to medium rare, about 4 minutes on each side, or approximately 120°F on an instant read thermometer.
To assemble the dish, mound the caponata in the center of four warmed dinner plates. Slice the venison and arrange over the caponata. Serve immediately.