Joyeux Noel… A traditional French Christmas Dinner

Make a truly festive dish by combining the rich flavor of venison with sweet roast vegetables, creamed savoy cabbage, roast onions and butternut squash, red wine jus

Serves: 6
Preparation time: 1 hour 30 minutes

Red wine jus
100 g vegetables (carrot, leek and celery), cut into mirepoix
50 ml vegetable oil
1 tyhme sprig
1 bay leaf
5 juniper berries, crushed
250 ml red wine
1 liter veal or chicken stock
salt, freshly ground pepper

Cranberry Madeleines
20 g butter, softened
125 g flour
4 g baking powder
2 eggs
65 g butter, melted
5 ml lavender oil (1 tsp)
10 g green peppercorns
200 g cranberries
Maldon sea salt

Roasted onion and butternut squash
15 ml vegetable oil
3 red onions
1 butternut squash
100 g butter
1 thyme sprig
1 garlic clove
salt, freshly ground pepper

20 ml vegetable oil
1 x 1.2 kg venison loin
salt, freshly ground pepper
100 g butter
Creamed Savoy cabbage
1 Savoy cabbage
2 carrots
10 g butter
2 bay leaves
400 ml whipping cream
juice of 1 lemon
salt, freshly ground pepper

4 sprigs of lavender

Red wine jus: In a pan cook the mirepoix in oil until golden in color, about 5 minutes. Add thyme, bay leaf and crushed juniper berries. Deglaze with red wine and reduce by half. Add veal stock and gently simmer for 45 minutes. Strain through a china cap sieve, season and set aside.

Cranberry Madeleines: Preheat oven to 175°C. Butter a mini-Madeleine mold using soft butter. Sieve flour and baking powder into a bowl. Beat eggs and add to flour and baking powder. Pour in melted butter and lavender oil and whisk to make a batter. Fold in the peppercorns and transfer batter into a piping bag. Pipe batter into mold indents and arrange cranberries on top. Sprinkle with Maldon sea salt. Bake until golden, about 7 minutes. Allow to cool and set aside.

Roasted onion and butternut squash: Cut red onions in half. Peel and slice butternut squash into discs. In a pan over a high heat add the oil, then onions face down and the discs of butternut squash. Cook for 3 minutes or until colored. Add butter, thyme and the garlic clove. Season and bake in the same oven as the Madeleines until soft, about 5 minutes.
Venison: In a pan, heat the oil over a low heat. Season venison loin and place in the pan, gently color all sides. Transfer to oven and cook for 5 minutes. Turn the loin over and cook for a further 5 minutes. Remove from oven and add butter. Gently baste meat with butter then rest for 10 minutes.

Creamed Savoy cabbage: Discard outer dark green leaves of cabbage. Cut into quarters and remove and discard core. Cut into julienne (5 cm long by 1 mm thick). Cut the carrots into brunoise (5 mm square). In a pan sweat the carrots in butter, add bay leaves and cook until the carrots are tender, about 3 minutes. Add julienne of cabbage and sweat for a further 2 to 3 minutes until cabbage has wilted. Add cream and reduce by half, add lemon juice, season. Set aside.

To serve: Warm red onion, butternut squash and Madeleines in oven for 2 minutes. Heat through the red wine jus and creamed Savoy cabbage. Slice venison loin into 18 equal sized pieces and arrange on warmed plates. Arrange onion and butternut squash discs, 2 or 3 cranberry Madeleines and add cabbage. Finish with red wine jus and decorate with one sprig of lavender (optional).


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