By Josh Gibson, Macbeth’s Butcher
Christmas is a wonderful time for a family gathering, a wee drink or two and enough food to feed a small army.
It’s quite possible you’ll be planning on buying a turkey the size of a planet to feed your guests. Don’t get me wrong, turkey is a fantastic meat and the free range and bronze varieties are really quite delicious – a far cry from mass produced tasteless birds that were once the archetypal Christmas fair.
However, at Christmas time there’s an opportunity to do something slightly different, but no less spectacular. If you’re looking for flavour then why not try wild venison? It’s quite lean and one of the most natural products available. For the richest flavour, try red deer venison from the North West of Scotland.
There are a couple of cuts to choose from, the first of which is the haunch. This is the most flavoursome of venison joints and is from the hind leg of the animal. It can be supplied on the bone for extra flavour or off the bone and rolled, which makes it easy to carve. For more tenderness, possibly at the sacrifice of flavour, you could try the rolled venison saddle. We would say that this is more suitable for smaller gatherings.
It’s very important not to overcook venison, so if you like your meat well done this might not be a good choice for you. As it’s a lean meat, it has a tendency to dry out if cooked more than medium rare. Our recommendation is to set your oven to 200 degrees Celsius, and cook the roast for 10 minutes per pound of meat plus 20 minutes if you like it rare. For medium rare cook it for 15 minutes per pound of meat. Once the cooking time is complete, rest the joint for at least 20 minutes before carving it.
If you are looking for something a little bit ‘beefier’ for your Christmas table, perhaps consider roasting a beef joint on the bone. The two joints we’d recommend are a rib roast or a sirloin roast. A rib roast has a huge amount of flavour but because it’s a relatively hard working muscle, you may find your teeth have to work harder. The sirloin roast is tenderer but still maintains great flavour and will come with the fillet attached for an added touch of luxury.
To roast your beef, set your oven to 200 degrees Celsius and cook it for 10 minutes per pound of meat plus 20 minutes if you like it rare. For medium rare cook for 15 minutes per pound and for well-done it’s 20 minutes. Once the cooking time is complete rest the joint for at least 20 minutes before carving.
If the thought of cooking a beef roast fills you with horror or your oven isn’t big enough, you could try a rolled sirloin with undercut – this is a sirloin roast with the fillet rolled into the centre.