Wednesday, 27 June 2012

R is for...Rosemary-crusted roast reindeer with red currant reduction, röstis and red cabbage

I have already given you my tuppence-worth about the ethics of eating reindeer meat, but now to the taste. Reindeer is mildly gamy and iron-rich. The meat is meltingly tender, full of flavour as well as light on the waistband. Reindeer meat is lean. So lean, in fact, that its calorie and fat count is lower than a skinless chicken breast. I finely chopped an enormous bunch of fresh rosemary and mixed it through with salt and pepper. Next, I laid a large sheet of cling film on the worktop and created a square of rosemary in the middle, then I rolled the reindeer up in the rosemary like a Swiss roll and popped it in the fridge until an hour before I cooked it. As it's so lean, don't be reserved with the butter. Preheat the oven to 180°C. I simply heated some butter and oil in a skillet and seared the outside (make sure you don't burn the herbs) and then transfer it on to a baking tray and pop it in the oven for 10 to 15 minutes. Let the meat rest before carving it into delicious, ruby discs. I served it with a simple ruby port and redcurrant reduction. 

Just in case the rice and pasta of the previous courses wouldn't be enough to sate the carbohydrate hunger of my guests, I slung some extra starch in their direction with the main course. I've never been shy about expressing my deep and unflagging enthusiasm for the humble potato. To me, they will be forever entangled with the words comfort and home. Smash and bash them with milk and butter and you have soft, velvety mash, parboil them and chuck them in bubbling goose fat in the oven and they transform into roast potatoes so good, they'll bring a tear to your eye. And all that before we even mention chips, crisps, gratins, gnocchi or röstis. I love a good rösti. Crunchy and buttery on the outside, soft and yielding in the middle.

To serve 8 (or 4 greedy) people, simply peel and grate 4 waxy potatoes. Submerge the grated potato in cold water to wash off the excess starch. Drain the spuds and squeeze out any excess water by squashing the potato between two clean tea towels. Heat a generous knob of butter in a pan and form small patties of the potato gratings in your hands, before pressing the röstis into the hot butter to turn golden brown. Cook the rösti for about five minutes on both sides, it should be cooked through and crispy on the outside. Season generously and serve with reindeer and steamed and buttered red cabbage. You can make the red cabbage more Christmassy, if you like, by slow cooking it in a saucepan with onion, grated apple, a few spices and a generous slug of port. 

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