Festive Food - Roast venison loin with a juniper berry sauce

The executive head chef at the Gleneagles Hotel shares his Christmas dinner recipe

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Festive Food - Roast venison loin with a juniper berry sauce

Roast venison loin with a juniper berry sauce (serves 10)

For the venison:

1.5kg venison loin, to be fully trimmed
10 juniper berries
30ml extra virgin olive oil or extra virgin
rapeseed oil
seasoning
30g butter

For the sauce:

4 shallots, finely diced
1 clove garlic crushes
30g butter
10 juniper berries
2 bay leaves
150ml Madeira
500ml reduced beef stock (or venison stock if you have it)
150ml cream

Preparation:

‘Ensure that the venison loin is fully trimmed and silver skin is removed – your butcher can help with this. You may need to cut the loin in half to fit in the oven. Blend the juniper berries with the oil. Rub this oil over the venison and (ideally) marinade for 3 days. Season the venison well and seal in a hot pan with butter, then remove from the heat and allow to cool. Wrap the venison tightly in heat resistant cling film and place on the rack in the oven on its lowest setting to cook for 45 minutes – it must be as low as possible or the venison will over-cook. Alternatively, you can cook traditionally without the cling film at 140°C for 10-15 minutes (depending on the thickness of the loin) and allow to rest on a wire tray.

For the sauce, in the pan in which the venison was cooked, add the butter and sweat the shallots. Then add the Madeira, bay leaves and juniper. Simmer half the mixture away, add the stock and reduce again by two thirds. Add the cream and bring to the boil, then strain and set aside. Carve the venison into thin slices, divide onto plates and drizzle with sauce. This would ideally be served with seasonal vegetables and potatoes – venison goes well with root vegetables or brassicas. Enjoy!’

Alan's tips:

‘Enjoy a glass of festive champagne and some sharing canapé-style starters for a change. Try a cranberry and apple relish with your turkey – a refreshing change from cranberry sauce. Try making a brussels sprout mash with pancetta and chestnuts to encourage everyone to eat more greens. When making Christmas pudding, soak the fruits in whisky for a couple of weeks to allow the flavours to mature.'

Andrew Fairlie at Gleneagles

Gleneagles Hotel, Auchterarder, Perth and Kinross, PH3 1NF

Scotland's only Michelin two-star restaurant, a distinction it has held since 1996, this is one of the country's most sought-after upmarket dining experiences. It's not, however, an intimidatingly grand affair: set in a modestly sized room in the heart…

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