Ho-ho-ho! Let the Christmas season begin!!!
Last year I was not really ready for the run up to Christmas, so the only Christmas recipe I provided was for gingerbread cookies and that was about it. From this, you would never have guessed that my family and I actually spent the whole holidays cooking and planning our Christmas menu(s). Of course we duly photographed every dish, but when I came back home early January, I felt like it was too late to share them..Christmas was gone!
Now it is that time of the year again, and I have a few recipes up my sleeve! This one was our Christmas Eve dinner, it is some serious cooking, so each step is well documented and photographed. And if you read through the article, you will see how the dish looked like as we ate it…we were not patient enough to properly dress the plates..clearly does not look as good as the photographed version!
This recipe is normally done with porc and is called “Roti de porc a la Saint Hubert”. It is supposed to give the porc more flavour, as if it was game. This is why it is called after Saint-Hubert, the patron saint of hunters. But for Christmas we got some real venison, and did not get it from the supermarket either. We went to get it from the dear farm and it was the occasion of a lovely family countryside walk.
Before you start, I have to warn you: the meat has to marinate for 24 to 48 hours, so don’t start on the day, the meat would be dry and you would not get all the flavours.
1 venison roast (800 g to 1 kg)
For the marinade: 1 onion, 1 carrot, 1 clove of garlic, 1 branch of thyme, 2 laurel leaves, 1 small bunch of parsley, 10 peppercorns, 3 juniper berries, 1 bottle red wine, 2 tbsp olive oil
For the cooking: 50 g unsalted butter
For the gravy: 2 tbsp redcurrant jelly, 1 tbsp mustard, red wine vinegar, 2 tbsp double cream
1. Cut the carrot and the onion in thins slices. Add all the ingredients for the marinade in a clay dish (or glass, but avoid metal), and add in the meat. Leave for 24 to 48 hours in the fridge, turning the meat in the morning and in the evening each day, so that the meat captures the flavours of the marinade. Ideally really try to respect the 48 hour marinating time, however because this recipe is with venison and not with porc, you have a lesser risk of ending up with a dry piece of meat if you only leave it for 24 hours or so.
2. On the day you will cook the roast, take out the meat of the marinade, and dry it so it roasts well and make that nice crunchy crust we all love. You can do this by rolling your meat in a clean, dry towel. Preheat the oven to 200 C. Don’t throw away the marinade, but strain it to remove all the bits and pieces from the juice. You will use it for your gravy and to pour on the meat once every 10 minutes or so. Keep 10 cl for this purpose, and the rest for the gravy.
3. Before roasting the meat, fry in butter for a few minutes, just to make sure it forms that nice crust. Once the outside of the roast is nice and brown, butter again and put in the oven for 45 minutes (count 45 minutes per kg of meat). Don’t forget to pour a few tablespoons of sauce on it every 10 to 15 minutes. Keep any juices from the frying and pour in your marinade (we don;t want to waste any of this).
4. Your roast is in the oven, your hands are now free to start making the gravy. Heat the marinade and let it reduce to about 30 cl, on low fire. In the mean time, mix together the redcurrant jelly, mustard, cream and vinegar – it will be easier to mix in the sauce if already combined. Once the sauce has reduced and is starting to get nicely thick, add in the previously mixed ingredients. Then add in this mix the juices for the meat that has been roasting in the oven and mix energetically with a whisk.
5. Serve with a celery puree and baked apples. To make the celery mash, proceed as you would for potato mash, but replace half of the potatoes with cubes of celery root. For the baked apples, peel and core whole apples, fill with leftover redcurrant jam, and bake in the oven for about 30-40 minutes.
And now for the brave ones who have read the recipe until the end (or the ones that scrolled down directly to this point), here is a before/after comparison, just to how much taking a few minutes to dress your plate can make a difference!