Christmas lunch/dinner calls for a certain degree of celebration. Of course you can roast goose, rib of beef, pheasant, duck or anything, but a saddle of venison gives that extra level of panache.
1 saddle of venison on the bone
250g unsmoked streaky bacon pancetta or prosciutto, thinly sliced
Grind white pepper liberally over the venison. Cover with overlapping slices of bacon/pancetta/prosciutto. Lay out a piece of cling film that is a bit longer than the saddle. Place the meat on top, then wrap the cling film around it. Bring a big pan of water to a simmer and poach the meat parcel for 30 minutes. Remove the cling film, transfer the meat to a roasting pan and give it a blast in a very hot oven for 10 minutes. Don’t worry if the pancetta/prosciutto shrivels up. Rest for 30 minutes in a warm oven until it’s time to serve.
Note: If you’re smart enough to have a water bath, you can cook the saddle in its vacuum pouch for 8 to 10 hours at 60°C /140F); and then toast it in a very hot oven as above.
Chesnut Sauce Ingredients
55g unsalted butter
1 onion, finely diced
1 stick celery, finely diced
1 medium carrot, finely diced
115ml white wine
2 bay leaves
150g peeled, cooked chestnuts
If you want to use stock from the venison bones, make the stock the day before.
Melt the butter in a saucepan, add the vegetables and stew until soft. Turn up the heat, add the wine, and reduce until there is barely any left. Repeat with the marsala. Add the bay leaves, peppercorns and stock. Cook over a fierce-ish heat for 20 minutes, strain into a clean pan, and reduce until you have quite an intense flavour (remember, you need enough sauce for 6). Whiz all but four of the chestnuts in a processor, and stir into the stock until it thickens. Before serving, roughly chop the other nuts and stir in.