Chef Doreen Prei's venison loin with wild mushrooms and cassis (photo: Michael Nangreaves)

Festive Food: Chef Doreen Prei’s Venison with Wild Mushrooms

By Kellie Davenport

Growing up in Germany, chef Doreen Prei was surrounded by centuries-old Christmas traditions. “There was a huge lead-up to the holidays,” says the expat, who’s called Edmonton home for 10-plus years. “On Christmas Eve, we’d feast on Polish sausage, boiled potatoes and sauerkraut—followed by singing, presents and a delicious rum-laced poppyseed cake baked by my great-grandmother. ”

As an executive chef and host of a weekly food segment on CBC Radio, Prei brings European flair to Canadian cuisine. The prolific cook has also done stints as a private chef and food consultant; she’s been featured on the Food Network’s Chopped and recently won an episode of Fire Masters.

Prei’s festive venison recipe harks back to her childhood. “Every September, I foraged for wild mushrooms with my grandfather. We dried them out for months to use in our venison dinner on December 25.” Now she adds Alberta-grown parsnips: “They inject a sweet note to game, like venison.”


• 1 venison loin, cleaned, skin removed and patted dry
• 3 Tbsp grape seed oil
• Salt and pepper, to taste
• 3 cloves garlic, crushed
• 1 bunch fresh thyme

Heat oven to 400 F.

Season venison with salt and pepper on each side.

Heat a large ovenproof frying pan on high; add grape seed oil and venison. Pan sear on all sides until caramelized. Remove from heat.

Add garlic and thyme to pan; cook in oven until meat reaches an internal temperature of 120–135 F for medium rare. Rest at least 7 minutes before slicing and serving.


• 100 g wild boar bacon or pancetta, diced
• Extra virgin olive oil
• 50 g butter, unsalted
• 80 g morel or shiitake mushrooms (or both), dried or fresh, sliced
• 100 g oyster mushrooms, cleaned and cut into strips
• 80 g of cremini mushrooms, cleaned and sliced
• 2 shallots, finely chopped
• 100 mL crème de cassis
• 250 g whipping cream
• Mushroom soaking liquid
• Lemon juice, to taste
• Salt and pepper, to taste
• 1 bunch fresh flat-leaf parsley, finely chopped

If using dried mushrooms, soak in boiling water at least 15 minutes; save soaking liquid.

Heat frying pan on medium-high. Add 5 Tbsp of olive oil and bacon; sear until caramelized. Add shallots and mushrooms, plus more olive oil as needed. Season with salt and pepper.

Sauté until mushrooms caramelize; add crème de cassis. Reduce heat to medium and cook about 5 more minutes.

Add mushroom soaking liquid and cream; reduce by half until creamy. Add lemon juice, salt and pepper to taste. Garnish with parsley before serving.