While 2017 had it’s dreadful lows, as we moved through the year, things seemed to improve and get better and better. In fact, by the end of the year, we were looking forward, with great excitement, to 2018.
Gary and I deliberately chose to stay at home on our own for New Year’s Eve this year, and with that in mind, I decided to plan a special meal. Using only what I had in the garden and the fridge, freezer and larder, the menu was set, and preparation began the day before. Meat was taken from the freezer, jellies were made and set, and a terrine prepared. The star of the show was to be a beautiful piece of venison that we had purchased, from the farm gate, while in Bright earlier in the year. It was a knuckle, so had to be cooked long and slow… This meant messaging a great friend, Fabien, in Paris, as he had prepared a shoulder of venison in a similar manner during one of our visits to his mother’s (my very dear friend, Véronique’s) home a few years ago. While the method for the cooking of the venison was quite simple, it would need seven hours in the oven! This gave me the idea of eating our way into 2018.
During the afternoon, leading to New Year’s Eve, I wandered around the garden picking a small basket of flowers. Carefully arranged in a bowl with a large candle in the centre, they became the centrepiece of a small table set with crystal stem-ware and serviettes.
And then another trip to the garden, this time the vegie patch, and I had the edible flowers to adorn the plates…
Gary had selected a movie for us to watch. The movie selected was “The Theory of Everything” a movie that looks at the life of famous physicist, Stephen Hawkins, his diagnosis of motor neurone disease, and his life with wife Jane.
With wines carefully selected to accompany each course, we sat down, the movie began, as did a wonderful evening together.
The plan was to wait an hour between each course, so as I plated the next course, Gary cleaned away the previous, stacking the dishwasher or handwashing dishes as we went. In fact we were enjoying the food and the movie so much, that we actually missed the heralding in of the New Year.
Here is a look at the way we ate our way into 2018…
And in photos…
Foie Gras , Mini GF Brioche (home made) & Mulled Wine Jelly
Mini Smoked Salmon and Egg Terrines Dressed Watercress & GF Baguette Toasts (he smoked salmon was house smoked at home)
Home made Cheeses (yes made by me) served with Apple and Pear & GF Crackers.
We first had slow cooked venison when my wonderful husband surprised me with a trip to France to be with my best friend, Véronique, and her family for New Year celebrations a few years ago. This was the dish prepared for lunch on New Years Day and her son, Fabien was in charge of cooking it. The venison, a shoulder, was to be cooked in the oven in the gite where we would be sleeping, and Fabien needed to have it in the oven by 5am! We quickly gave him the key and told him to let himself in and out as he needed, while we slept after a wonderful (but late) New Year's Eve of Celebrations with the family. The meal was outstanding and has been forever in our memories.
With a knuckle of venison in the freezer, I decided that I would try to replicate the recipe. I messaged Fabien and he told me that it had to be seared then cooked with vegetables, garlic and white wine (preferably a sweeter white wine), for seven hours. So this is the recipe that came from the messaging.
- 1 kg of Venison knuckle
- 1 onion pealed
- 1 medium parsnip pealed
- 1 stick of celery pealed
- 1 large carrot pealed
- 2 large cloves of garlic pealed and finely chopped
- 5 sprigs of flat leaf parsley
- 4 juniper berries
- 2 bay leaves
- 750 ml white wine a good sweetish white wine
- 2 tbs olive oil
- Freshly ground black pepper
- Sea salt
- 1 tbsp apple jelly
- 2 tbsp butter chilled and diced
Preheat your oven to 110˚C (fan).
Finely dice the onion, parsnip, celery and carrot - this is your mirepoix.
Place the parsley, bay leaves and juniper berries into a small piece of muslin and tie to form a little bag of aromats.
Season the venison with salt and peppr.
Heat the olive oil in a large heavy based pot over a medium/high heat, and sear the venison on all sides until nicely browned. Remove the venison and set aside.
Add the mirepoix and finely chopped garlic to the pot and sauté until the onion is tender.
Turn up the heat, return the venison to the pot and add the white wine, boil for 2-3 minutes to burn off some of the alcohol.
Reduce the heat, add the bag of aromats, and then cover the entire surface of the liquid and meat with a “cartouche” (see notes).
Finally put the lid on the pot and place the pot into the preheated oven.
Cook for seven hours, turning the venison every hour.
When cooked, remove the venison from the pot, place on a plate, and cover loosely with foil to keep it warm.
Strain the liquid from the solids in the pot, discard the solids and return the liquid to the pot.
Place the pot over medium/high heat and boil to reduce the liquid to approximately 1 cup.
Add the apple jelly and stir until it melts into the liquid.
Finally whisk in the diced butter, this will slightly thicken the sauce and make it shine.
Carve the meat into 1 cm thick slices and serve with the sauce and creamy mashed parsnips.
For a cartouche simply cut a circle of parchment/baking paper slightly larger than the dimension of your pot, scrunch it up and place under running cold water to dampen and soften it. Flatten it and then place it onto the liquid surface of a casserole, soup, stock or sauce. This slows down the evaporation, prevents a skin from forming and helps to keep the ingredients submerged, as well as moist.
A mirepoix is a combination of finely diced vegetables such as carrots, parsnip, celery and onions used to add flavour and aroma to food during the cooking process.
With the meal finished, the movie over, and the kitchen cleaned, we finally fell into bed about 2 am with full tummies and great anticipation for the year ahead.
Wishing all Peace and Happiness in 2018.
- Smoked Salmon and Egg Terrines
- Slow Cooked Knuckle of Venison
- Creamy Parsnip Mash
- Raspberry and Apple Jelly