Make the most of Christmas meat
These days not even Santa Claus can conjure up a large cheap leg of lamb or pork, or fillet of beef or turkey for your family Christmas dinner.
But it is a special occasion and if you buy wisely you can create several more delicious meals from the leftovers.
Of course, if you don’t require a feast-sized meat treat because you are cooking for a small number of guests or the leftovers would be wasted, there are economical options.
For example, there are smaller hams available 1.5 to 3kg in size. The skin is left on and can be removed by easing off with your hands then the fat scored in the usual way.
An easy method of glazing the ham is to sprinkle the fat with icing sugar then place under a medium-heat grill to melt and brown.
Turkey is a perennial Kiwi yuletide favourite. Fortunately there is a whole raft of smaller turkey options available for smaller families or for just two people. Skinned and boned breast fillets, boneless thighs, drums and small frozen boneless roasts are a few of the choices.
Just don’t forget the cranberry jelly or sauce and prunes wrapped in bacon as accompaniments.
If a beef fillet breaks the budget then try a rump roast or topside. For tenderness, I swear by salting the outside of the roast and refrigerating it uncovered for up to two days before roasting; see the recipe following.
For me, Christmas is not only about good food but also, most importantly, about family.
Duck Breasts with Cherry Sauce
This yummy cherry sauce can be prepared a day ahead and is also excellent served with chicken. Fresh cherries are best but you could substitute a 680g jar of pitted morello cherries, drained. If the duck breasts are small, you may need two per person. Cherry sauce: 1 Tbsp olive oil 3 each: shallots, diced; garlic cloves, crushed 1 tsp tomato paste salt and pepper to taste
tsp ground cumin a pinch of hot chilli flakes
red pepper (capsicum), diced 1 acid-free tomato, diced
cup red wine 1 Tbsp balsamic vinegar 11⁄ Tbsp sugar 1 tsp Dijon-style mustard 3 cups pitted dark cherries Duck: 4 large duck breasts with skin Olive oil To make the sauce, heat the oil in a saucepan. Saute the shallots and garlic on low heat, until softened.
Stir in the tomato paste, seasonings, red pepper and tomato. Cook, until softened, about four minutes. Add the wine, vinegar, sugar, mustard and 11⁄ cups of cherries. Simmer for two minutes. Place in a blender and puree until smooth. Sieve. Cover and refrigerate for up to one day.
To prepare the duck, score the skin with the tip of a sharp knife in a criss-cross pattern.
Heat a heavy frying pan on medium-high heat. Brush with olive oil. Add the duck breasts, skin-side down and cook until the skin is golden brown, about six minutes.
Remove the duck to one side and drain off all but one tablespoon of the fat from the pan. Reheat the pan on medium- low. Return the duck breasts to the pan, skin-side up. Cook for five minutes, until medium rare.
Meanwhile, reheat the sauce, adding the remaining cherries. Add a little to the duck in the pan before serving. Slice each breast into four, if preferred. Serve the remaining sauce on the side. Serves four.
This chicken can be cooked in a heavy saucepan on the hob, in a covered casserole in the oven or in a slow cooker. 4 Tbsp olive oil 10 shallots, peeled but left whole 20 cloves garlic 6 baby carrots 1 large chicken sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste 6 sprigs each: parsley, rosemary finely grated rind 1 lemon 12 pitted prunes
cup each: chardonnay, chicken stock
Heat two tablespoons of oil in a heavy frying pan. Saute the shallots for two to three minutes, until lightly coloured. Add the garlic and carrots and saute for two minutes. Place in a large saucepan on the hob or casserole if cooking in the oven, or the slow cooker.
Heat the remaining oil, if required. Truss or tie the chicken to keep it in a neat shape. Season well. Brown the chicken all over in the oil. Place on the vegetables. Add the herbs, rind and prunes to the saucepan. Add the chardonnay and stock.
Cover and simmer on very low heat on the hob for about two hours; or in a 180 degrees Celsius oven for 11⁄ hours; or in a slow cooker for about five hours on high. Cook until the thighs just pull away from the carcass.
Place the chicken on a serving platter with the prunes and veges. Season the pan juices and serve in a jug. Serves four to six.
Glazed Ham with a Seed Crust
This glaze is for a pre-cooked ham. Remove the skin by placing your hand between the skin and fat and gently ease it off. 1 medium ham, skin removed Glaze: - cup whole cloves cup apricot jam 3 Tbsp orange juice 1 Tbsp cornflour Crust:
cup sunflower seeds 3 Tbsp each: white mustard seeds, lightly toasted sesame seeds 2 Tbsp pumpkin seeds Preheat the oven to 160C. Score the fat diagonally across the face of the ham about every 2cm, to produce a diamond effect. Insert a clove into the centre of each diamond
Melt the apricot jam with the juice. Stir in the cornflour. Brush over the ham. If the ham is to be served hot, cook for about 10 minutes per 500g.
If the ham is to be served cold, cook at 180C for about 45 minutes. Baste occasionally during cooking. Remove from the oven and sprinkle with the seeds.
Beef Rump with Red Wine Sauce
1.8-2kg beef rump, tied to keep a good shape 1 Tbsp flaky sea salt freshly ground black pepper to taste Red wine sauce:
cup extra virgin olive oil 1 medium red onion, diced
cup brandy 1 large sprig each: rosemary, thyme, flat-leaf parsley 1 tsp Dijon-style mustard 1 cup cabernet sauvignon wine 2 cups good beef stock 2 Tbsp sugar Rub the surface of the beef with the salt and pepper. Place on a rack in a roasting pan. Refrigerate, uncovered, for 24 to 36 hours.
Prepare the sauce up to 24 hours ahead. Heat three tablespoons of olive oil in a heavy saucepan over medium heat. Saute the onion, until soft.
Add the brandy, herbs and mustard and cook until the liquid evaporates. Add the wine and bring to the boil. Add the beef stock and sugar. Boil until reduced to 11⁄ cups. Strain through a sieve into a bowl, pressing on the solids to extract as much liquid and flavour as possible. Cool the sauce, cover and refrigerate.
Allow the meat to return to room temperature before roasting. Preheat the oven to 200C.
Brush the meat with olive oil. Return the beef to the rack in the roasting pan.
Reduce the temperature to 180C. Roast for 20 minutes per 500g for medium rare or until a meat thermometer inserted in the centre reaches 150C.
Remove the meat from the oven. Cover with foil or a basin and stand for 15 minutes to allow the meat to ‘‘set’’.
Meanwhile, bring the sauce to the boil and simmer for three minutes. Season if required.
Remove the string from the beef before slicing and serving with the sauce.
Great accompanied with roasted vegetables, mustard and horseradish. Serves eight.
DELICIOUS CHRISTMAS: Making your Christmas meal spectacular.