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Dariush Lolaiy's chargrilled venison

18 September 2022
lodge cast iron cookbook dariush lolaiy chargrilled venison with cauliflower and cherry sauce recipe (1)

Inspiring Kiwis to spice up their sizzle, OG cast iron producer Lodge Cast Iron has rallied a cohort of culinary icons to dish out their top recipes to cook with using cast iron in a new cookbook set to release from September, complimentary with every Lodge purchase.

Co-owner and head chef behind one of Auckland’s best and most unique culinary experiences, Dariush Lolaiy knows that Cazador isn’t a traditional restaurant offering.

Specialising in game meats with a Middle Eastern thread and local produce, Dariush has driven Cazador to be one of Auckland’s favourite outposts. Recreate a taste of Cazador at home with Dariush’s chargrilled venison with cherry Sauce and cauliflower recipe.

Chargrilled venison with cherry sauce and cauliflower


Spice rub

· ½ tsp star anise

· ½ tsp chopped rosemary

· ½ tsp garlic powder

· ½ tsp black pepper

· ½ tsp sugar

· ½ tsp salt

· 700g 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

· 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.


Cut the cauliflower head into large florets, then slice into 3mm 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.

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.

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.

Bring the venison to room temperature. Rub the venison with a little olive oil and sear on a hot Lodge grill for about 2-3 minutes each side, or until the internal temperature reaches 38ºC. Rest the venison for 4 minutes.

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.

To serve, cut the meat against the grain – aim for 1cm 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.

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