As Christmas draws closer it's time to fill the house with festive aromas. Pine, citrus, woody spices and the sort of gift that comes quietly from the oven and needs nothing in the way of last minute shopping or shoddy wrapping. We will have venison meat available to buy in the shop and to pre-order for the next few months from Rhug Estate.
700g venison, diced & tossed in seasoned flour
4 small onions, cut into large slices
1 large clove of garlic
1 carrot, chopped very fine
1 stick celery, chopped very fine
70g Pancetta, cut into lardons
1 bottle of red wine, only half is needed but the cook might need a pick-me-up
500ml Beef stock
1 Bay leaf, fresh
1 Sprig rosemary, fresh
1 Thyme, fresh or a scattering of dried oregano
1 tbsp Tomato puree
Preheat the oven to 150C.
Taking your time, brown the venison in batches. Don’t overcrowd the pan and agitate the meat very occasionally until a rich, brown crust develops. Put your meat to one side and turn the heat in the pan right down.
Render the fat out of the pancetta and toss in the onions, adding a little butter if you need to, again, stirring only every now and then, cooking them quietly until golden. Add the sliced garlic and then the carrot, allowing it to just soften in the pan. Finally stir in the celery and let everything mingle together for a minute or two. You now have a beautifully structured, savoury base. A sofrito.
Crush the cloves in a pestle and mortar and add a good pinch to the pan. Put the meat back into the pan with the sofrito and grate over a fine dust of nutmeg and a sprinkling of cinnamon. Stir the pan and the kitchen will fill with the smell of wood spice. Grate almost all the zest off the clementine and add along with the fresh herbs and a large tot of gin. Boil the mix hard until the gin has almost disappeared and pour in half a bottle of drinkable red wine. Something Italian would be perfect. The wine needs to be quickly reduced by half and then you’re ready to add the beef stock. Pour in just enough to submerge the mix and place in the middle of the warm oven for as long as possible, at least 3 hours, adding a little more liquid if it begins to look dry.
Serve with a little more grated zest and some polenta, soft and full of butter.