There are four of us on the day, three of which are meat eaters but one of those is allergic to nuts. One is a vegetarian but does eat fish so I don't need to do a nut roast. I've mentioned before how having people who don't eat certain things can either complicate things massively or force you to keep things really simple. With only four of us I'm pretty sure I can handle a few complicated things so thats what I'm going to do.
For the main meat course I'm serving Venison this year, and going for a fillet cut of Scottish red deer. I''s incredibly tasty and obviously very game-y, so its a very good substitute for a bird. The trick with Venison is not to overcook it. Medium rare is about as cooked as you want it, definitely no more otherwise you start to lose the flavour. For the fourth serving I'm going to do Rainbow trout because it's one of the best tasting fish I've ever tasted and goes well with the overall rustic feel of the meal.
I'm going to use a joint that is about 1.2 kilos so cooking times will vary depending the size of your joint.
First season the meat with some black pepper, fresh thyme and a little (and I mean a little) sea salt.
Add some olive oil to a skillet large enough to take the meat. You don't need to put a lot in, just enough to coat the bottom of the pan.
Seal the meat on all sides. Some BBQ tongs work really well turning the meat and making sure that its all sealed without any of it getting burned. I usually season the meat with a little more pepper whilst I'm doing this but I have a feeling that I like more pepper than most people so don't worry if you miss this out.
Roughly chop an onion and an apple and mix both of these together and then place them on a sheet of metal foil big enough to wrap around the entire joint of venison so that none of the juices can escape. Add more fresh thyme. It's not exactly festive but I also like to add some roughly chopped garlic. No more than a large clove is needed and I like the extra zing that it gives but this is definitely optional and a lot of people will cringe if you suggest it.
What you end up with is the venison sitting on a bed of lots of flavoring ingredients and now wrap it up into a parcel and place it on a baking tray in an oven set to about C200 degrees. Make sure that none of the juices can seep out because you are going to need those later. 20 to25 minutes is what this now needs. Definitely no longer and depending on your oven it can even be ready before then.
When it comes out you will be left with the juices which you can blend together with the mush thats left and then add some sieved flour to create a roux. I'm going to boil up some pealed plums in a pan to make a fruity stock and add some salt and a bouillon cube to this. Strain and then add the stock to the paste to make a great gravy bustling with flavours.
Truthfully, these dishes don't really need a stuffing but its very traditional so I'm going to cook this in a separate dish and serve it for those who want it.
You need grated/blended breadcrumbs and finely chopped onion. You need enough of each so that the bread soaks up the juice of the onion but so it can combine in a stiff mixture. Add in freshly chopped thyme and sage, and then some pealed and chopped plumbs. Finely some black pepper and a little sea salt and them beat everything together with an egg. Add some sausage meat to half the mixture and place the other half in a dish so we now have a vegetarian and a carnivore version. I'm going to halve the meat version again and then add in some grated/blended chestnuts. Put all three in dishes and cook in the same oven for about 20-25 minutes. The vege option probably wants to come out after only fifteen minutes but the sausage version needs to definitely cook through.
Take a line caught Rainbow trout. Remove the fins and gut it, but don't worry taking the head or tail off. I think it looks better on the plate that way but its really up to you. This recipe is probably going to freak out the purists but trust me it works and tastes fantastic. Roughly chop an onion, and put that in a plastic dish big enough to take the trout. Put enough onion in to completely cover the bottom and make a bed up to half an inch thick. Now add some fresh chopped parsley and some fresh thyme florets. Again put enough in to cover the onion bed. Add a little sea salt and also add some sea salt to the fish to season it. Place the trout on top of the flavoring bed and then grind some black pepper on top. Squeeze on the juice of half a lemon and then pour some fresh orange juice over it to half cover the trout. Now add about half a clove of chopped garlic and cover with a plate.
At this point I'm going to put this in a microwave oven. Microwaves are basically fast steamers and steaming is what you want for this dish. That's why it works. You can steam it the traditional way but I've tried both and I'm really at a loss to be able to recommend one over the other and if you only have a small oven it means you can cook both the meat and fish dishes at the same time, so its a worthwhile trick to pull. Nuke it for about 4 minutes, have a look, and make sure the mix is still evenly covering the fish and then give it another 2 minutes. Let it stand for two minutes and then have another look. It should be done but some people might need to give it another minute or two just to make sure its cooked. You basically want to look at the eye of the trout and to see that it has gone opaque rather than clear and also to ensure that the flesh is only loosely held on the bone. A quick prod with a fork should confirm this. You now have a wonderfully flavored trout. Serve it one a plate and add some of the onion mix and some of the juice. Make a basic parsley sauce by first heating butter in a pan and then adding sieved flour to make a roux and then add warm milk and gradually bring to the boil. Add pepper and a little salt if you want to and then some chopped parsley. When its a stiff creamy consistency, put a few spoons of that on the side to give the final plate something to accompany the vegetables.
Roast Potatoes & Parsnips
It's not Christmas without roast potatoes so I'm going to use the same recipe as I did a few years ago. Peal and boil for about 8 minutes, then strain them and toss them in some sieved flour and rosemary and thyme. I've got vegetarians so I'm going to take two pans and put olive oil in one and some duck fat in another. Heat both on a gas ring and then place the potatoes in followed by a bit more rosemary and a bit more thyme. Now put them into the same oven as the meat for about 25-35 minutes depending on how many you have in the pan. Half way through cooking spoon the oil over to make them crisp up. That's it.
I'm also going to add some peeled, chopped and part boiled (5 minutes) parsnips to this as well for the last ten minutes.
Sprouts are traditional and I'm going to steam them and then saute in some garlic and olive oil to liven them up a bit.
Peas, carrots French beans cauliflower and broccoli will give me enough vegetables to suit everyone (I have some picky eaters). Ill steam them all and add some ginger to the carrots and peas again to just liven them up a bit. Everything else can best be left to speak for themselves.
Dessert this year consists of some shop bought Christmas puddings because I've got too much going on at work to do them myself properly ahead of time, but you can get some really good shop bought ones. I'm going for the Sainsbury's Chocolate Christmas puddings which are nut free and vegetarian friendly and a Fortnum and Mason luxury Christmas pudding which is made with beef suet for everyone else. Both of them can be steamed in a microwave oven. I'm going to make a custard with some custard powder, sugar and milk and then add to that some brandy, cinnamon and nutmeg to give it an extra bit of kick. Put more brandy over the hot puddings and then serve.
That's it, enjoy!