Za’atar Marinated Venison with Charred Eggplant Baba Ghanoush & Couscous

Ryan AndersonAll Recipes, General, Venison Recipes

Za'atar Marinated Venison with Charred Eggplant Baba Ghanoush & Couscous

Makes 4-6 Servings

A bold, peppery Syrah or Zinfandel

Za'atar is the name of a wild herb (aka hyssop) as well as a multifaceted Middle Eastern spice blend that typically includes some combination of dried thyme, oregano, hyssop, marjoram, sumac, and toasted sesame seeds. There are many za’atar variations, encompassing a wide range of flavors, so look for a style you like. The smoky baba ghanoush and fruity couscous, also inspired by The Levant, play beautifully against our farm-raised New Zealand venison, a lean game meat with a surprisingly mild flavor.

Za'atar Marinated Venison with Charred Eggplant Baba Ghanoush & Couscous
  • 2lbs Venison Denver Leg, cut into 6 steaks, about 5oz. each

  • For the marinade:
  • ½ tsp ground black pepper
  • 1 tbsp za’atar
  • ¼ cup pomace oil (or other neutral oil, such as canola or grapeseed)
  • For the baba ghanoush:
  • 5lbs Chinese or Japanese Eggplant
  • 6oz tahini (preferably Soom brand)
  • 2 lemons
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • ½ cup good quality olive oil (such as arbequina), plus more for finishing
  • For the couscous:
  • 8oz cooked couscous
  • 2oz orange juice
  • 1 tbsp chopped parsley
  • 2oz chopped oil-cured olives
  • 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • Kosher salt to taste
  • Garnishes (optional):
  • Carrot curls (shaved lengthwise with a vegetable peeler)
  • Fresh figs or peaches or other seasonal stone fruit, halved or quartered
  • Pomegranate molasses
  • Extra virgin olive oil


  • Marinate the meat:

Combine the marinade ingredients in a bowl. Add the steaks. Allow to marinate for 2 hours.

  • Make the baba ghanoush:

Char the eggplants on a grill or under the broiler, turning until the skin is evenly charred and the flesh is tender and soft. Place in a large bowl to let cool. Once cool enough to handle, peel away stem and burnt skin (set some skin aside to add later for more flavor). Try to scrape out most of the seeds.

Squeeze lemons and place the lemon juice in a blender with the garlic. Blend for 30 seconds than add the cleaned eggplant. Purée the ingredients together and slowly add the tahini, then the olive oil. Add salt to taste. If you want more charred flavor, blend in some more of the burnt skin. Adjust seasoning with lemon juice and salt. Set aside.

  • When ready to cook:

Remove the meat from the marinade and season with salt. In a pan over medium heat, sear the steaks, turning them every minute so as not to burn spices. Add butter to the pan and baste while continuing to cook, until the internal temperature reaches 125°F. Remove the steaks to a clean plate, cover and allow to rest and carry over to medium rare.

While the meat is resting, combine all ingredients for the couscous in a mixing bowl and gently mix.

To serve, cut the steaks into thick slices and arrange on individual plates with baba ghanoush and couscous. Garnish, if desired, with carrot curls and fresh seasonal fruit. Finish with a splash of pomegranate molasses and good olive oil.