View Photos A healthy alternative to beef (and even chicken!), naturally sweet venison welcomes a tart, fruity sauce. The perfect side? Potato puree or Brussels sprouts nail it every time.Peppered Venison Loin with Zinfandel Huckleberry SauceServes fourIngredientsFor the venison1 venison loin, trimmed of fat and silverskin, about 1 lb. 4 tbsp. vegetable oil2 tsp. chopped fresh thyme1 tsp. coarsely cracked black peppercorns¾ tsp. kosher salt1. Rub the venison with 2 tbsp. oil, thyme, peppercorns, and salt. Let stand for 1 hour at room temperature.2. Preheat oven to 500°.3. Heat a large, ovenproof skillet on high. Add the rest of the oil.4. When the oil is almost smoking, add the venison and sear on all sides, about 2 minutes total, then transfer the skillet to the oven and roast the venison until the internal temperature reaches 120° (for medium rare), 5-6 minutes. Let rest for 5 minutes before carving.For the sauce3 tbsp. vegetable oil½ lg. yellow onion, coarsely chopped1 celery rib, coarsely chopped2 carrots, coarsely chopped½ Granny Smith apple, diced (no need to core)1 c. Cakebread Cellars zinfandel ½ c. ruby port3 c. chicken stock 1 sprig fresh thyme½ c. plus 2 tbsp. fresh huckleberries or frozen wild Maine blueberries, thawed1. Heat the oil in a 4-qt. saucepan on high.2. Add onion, celery, carrots, and apple. Saute over high heat, stirring often, until the vegetables caramelize slightly, 10-15 minutes.3. Add the zinfandel and port. Simmer briskly until reduced to a syrup, about 15 minutes.4. Add the chicken stock, thyme, and ½ c. berries. Simmer until reduced to a sauce consistency, about 30 minutes.5. Strain through a fine sieve, pressing on the solids. You should have about ½ c. sauce.6. Return the sauce to a small saucepan and add the remaining 2 tbsp. berries.To serve1. Slice the venison about ¼-inch thick.2. Arrange the venison on dinner plates and spoon the sauce around it, not over it.3. Pair with Cakebread Cellars zinfandel or another fruity, full-bodied red wine.Adapted from The Cakebread Cellars American Harvest Cookbook, available online at amazon.com, $22.Photo: Marshall Gordon / Courtesy of Ten Speed PressFall’s harvest yields great eats. Celebrate the season with a bumper crop of recipe and entertaining ideas.