If turkey fails to tempt you

Western Morning News (Saturday) - - Food -

De­cem­ber has ar­rived and most of us are al­ready well on our way to get­ting Christ­mas or­gan­ised, well in ad­vance it is hoped. Be­fore you place your or­der for the usual turkey, why not look at some equally de­li­cious al­ter­na­tives for the main event, and I am sure you will find your­self spoilt for choice. I have to ad­mit that turkey does not re­ally set my taste buds zing­ing, but I know that per­haps it does have that ef­fect on many peo­ple; par­tic­u­larly tra­di­tion­al­ists who I am sure will stick with it. Just let me see if I can tempt you to a de­li­ciously dif­fer­ent “mains” this Christ­mas. Rib of beef (I would sug­gest Devon Red Ruby) would be one ex­cel­lent choice, but you will need to get your or­der in at your lo­cal butcher or farm shop quickly. For those of you who like game I would sug­gest veni­son, which is low in fat, and very flavour­some – you would need to have light desserts on of­fer af­ter it. You might pre­fer a stuffed rack of pork, with a tasty sausage meat and ap­ple stuff­ing which to­gether with a real taste of West­coun­try cider gravy is re­ally de­li­cious.


In­gre­di­ents (serves 8)

300g qual­ity pork sausage meat 1 x small Bram­ley ap­ple

Finely grated zest of a lemon 1 tbsp finely chopped fresh pars­ley

1 tbsp finely chopped fresh sage 2 tbsp whole­grain mus­tard

2kg rack of pork

2 medium onions

For the cider gravy:

2 tbsp plain flour

200ml West­coun­try cider

500ml good chicken stock

2 level tbsp red­cur­rant jelly Freshly ground black pep­per


Put the sausage meat into a mix­ing bowl. Peel, core and very finely dice the ap­ple and add to the bowl to­gether with the pars­ley, lemon zest, whole­grain mus­tard and a good sea­son­ing of freshly ground black pep­per and mix well. Us­ing a re­ally sharp knife to make a space for the stuff­ing, cut a flap along the joint by care­fully cut­ting the skin to form a pocket, and then cut­ting fat away from the meat. Us­ing your fingers you should press the stuff­ing into the space formed, then us­ing butcher’s string tie the skin back into place along the length of the joint. Peel and thickly slice the onions and spread evenly over the base of a roast­ing tin and place the pork on top – skin side up. Sea­son with a lit­tle sea salt. Pre­heat the oven to 220C Gas mark 7 then cal­cu­late the cook­ing time al­low­ing 30 min­utes per 500g and cook for just 40 min­utes then lower the heat to 180C (Gas mark 4) for the re­main­der of the cook­ing time or un­til the juices run clear when a meat skewer is in­serted. Trans­fer the meat to a warm carv­ing dish and wrap the meat well with foil, and then place a clean tea towel over the foil and leave to con­sol­i­date in a warm en­vi­ron­ment for 30-40 min­utes – dur­ing which you can make the gravy. Spoon off all but one ta­ble­spoon of the fat from the roast­ing tin and place the tin on the hob over a medium heat. Sprin­kle in the flour and stir, us­ing a wooden spoon, scrap­ing up all the sed­i­ment from the bot­tom of the tin. Take off the heat, and grad­u­ally blend in the cider. Re­turn to the heat and al­low to sim­mer for a fur­ther two min­utes be­fore adding the stock and then lower the heat and al­low to sim­mer for 15 min­utes. To serve strain the gravy into a warmed jug or gravy boat and stir in the red­cur­rant jelly.


In­gre­di­ents (serves 6-8) 2 kg haunch of veni­son 60ml olive oil 60ml red wine

2 tbsp freshly chopped rose­mary 2 tbsp freshly chopped thyme

4 tbsp runny honey

100g but­ter

300ml red wine

100g chest­nut mush­rooms

Mix to­gether the olive oil, red wine and herbs. Place the veni­son in a large, non-metal­lic dish. Mix to­gether the olive oil, red wine and herbs and pour this over the veni­son, cover with Cling­film and chill overnight. Lift the veni­son from the dish and place in a roast­ing tin. Blend the but­ter and honey to­gether and spread all over the veni­son. Place in a pre­heated oven at 200C (Gas mark 6) and cook for 30 min­utes, bast­ing ev­ery few min­utes or so through­out that time. Lower the heat to 150C (Gas mark 2) and cook the veni­son for the re­main­ing cook­ing time – which should be cal­cu­lated at 25 min­utes for each 500. The honey and but­ter will form a dark crusty which will seal in all the juices. While the veni­son is cook­ing wipe and roughly chop the mush­rooms. Once the veni­son is cooked re­move from the oven and place in a warmed serv­ing dish and cover with foil and keep warm in a low oven. Place the roast­ing tin on the hob and grad­u­ally add the red wine. Bring to the boil and add the chopped mush­rooms and sim­mer un­til the liq­uid has re­duced and thick­ened.

Rosa Mashiter

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