When I ordered the goose from Fields, I added a venison loin to the order for New Year’s Eve; traditionally, I cook dinner for three close friends on 31/12, and have done so for many years. The fact that we’ve moved 220 miles away seems to make no difference 🙂
The butcher phoned a couple of weeks before Christmas to say their supplier had delivered no venison loins (perhaps they have a very odd breed of deer up here :), and would a haunch be OK. As I’d never cooked either, it seemed a plan, so he set aside a 2Kg one for me. I asked how much it would cost, and felt a bit faint when he told me but, you know, festive season and all that.
By Friday morning, we realised we had *8* people for dinner, so during the morning Pete and I between us cooked up a huge batch of dauphinoise potatoes with leeks to accompany the venison and sugar snap peas. I had a bag of cranberries in the fridge, and a punnet of plums, so I did a plum streusel (using this recipe, but without the pine nuts) and a cranberry and chocolate roulade. The former went very well; the latter …
My oven is ancient and not very good. I baked the roulade for the recommended time, and it clearly wasn’t cooked, so I gave it another five minutes. When I came to get it out of the tin, it was a bit sticky, but I slathered it with the cream and cranberries and then – disaster. It wouldn’t roll up, and was really more like a chocolate mooooose than a sponge. Too late to do anything about it, so we manoeuvred it on to as plate (getting covered in chocolate to boot), dusted it with icing sugar to hide the damage, and hoped for the best. And despite its rather collapsed appearance, it was *gorgeous*, and every scrap was consumed.
On to the venison. I was a bit worried, because it cost £38! (yes, really), and I didn’t want to wreck it. In the end, I went for Hugh Fearnley-Eatsitall’s method – seasoned it, put some fresh thyme and bay leaves on it and wrapped it in 12 thin rashers of bacon. 30 minutes at gas 7, then 50 at gas 4 (it weighed 2.156kgs, boned), and it was cooked *to perfection*, lovely and pink. It went down very well.
Eight people round our dining table was a bit of a squeeze, and there was a rather varied assortment of chairs, but we managed, and a fine night was had by all. I think between us Pete and I did eight lots of washing up between last night’s dinner and this morning’s cooked breakfast for four – roll on the kitchen makeover in Feb, and a DISHWASHER.
Sadly there is both venison and plum cake left, so Pete and I will have to eat it tonight. Such hardship.
And I wish you all a very happy new year!