An alternative Christmas Wellington

Another Christmas without a turkey and I’m pleased to say my dad thoroughly enjoyed his Christmas dinner. It was still meat, I have not yet and never will, convert him to go veggie for a Christmas Day dinner. What was it if it wasn’t turkey you might ask? It was Gordon Ramsey’s Venison Wellington with port sauce.
The meat was purchased from my parents local butchers, Collingtons, in Wymeswold, Leicestershire.
We took Ramsey’s recipe and omitted the pancake section, as we felt that over Christmas so much is eaten over the few days that an extra layer could be too filling. The great thing about this dish was that it can be made on Christmas Eve morning or afternoon and completed on Christmas Day. Creating a better kitchen atmosphere on the 25th December. If you worry that venison might be too expensive, you could substitute this with beef.

Port Sauce
The sauce can be made 2 days in advance and reheated in the saucepan, adding a splash more stock if too thick.
1 finely chopped shallot
a small knob of butter
a sprig of thyme
300ml port
600ml fresh chicken stock

Sweat 1 finely chopped shallot in a little butter with a thyme sprig. Pour in 300ml port and reduce by two-thirds, then add 600ml fresh chicken stock and reduce again by two-thirds until syrupy. Strain into another saucepan ready to be reheated.

Starting the Wellington, you will need:
2 tbsp olive oil
1 trimmed loin of venison weighing about 1kg, cut into 2 equal pieces. Ask for the loin or the loin fillet off the bone, well-trimmed
2 tbsp English mustard
300g mixed wild mushrooms , trimmed and cleaned. (Go for fresh rather than dried.)
6 slices prosciutto a packet of prosciutto will cover this.
500g pack all-butter puff pastry
3 egg yolks , beaten

Trim as much fat off your meat as possible then split your venison loin in half. This will make the sandwich effect simpler. Next heat 1tbsp olive oil in a frying pan and quickly seal the venison for about 2 mins on each side until browned. Remove the meat from the pan, brush all over with the mustard and leave to cool.
While this cools, whiz the mushrooms in a food processor. Now place the pan back on the heat with the rest of the oil and add the mushrooms. Season with salt and pepper and fry over a high heat for 5 mins until the excess moisture has evaporated and you have a thick paste. Check your seasoning and transfer the mushrooms to a bowl and leave to cool.

Lay 2-3 large sheets of cling film overlapping each other on a clean surface. Lay the slices of prosciutto overlapping lengthways in 2 rows of 3. Take a tablespoon of the mushroom mixture and press this out onto the prosciutto, don’t take this to the edge, as it will ooze out. Now sit one of the pieces of venison in the middle of the prosciutto and mushroom mix. Take another spoon of the mushroom mix and press this over the venison and sandwich with the other piece of venison. You can add the remainder if the mushroom mix to the top of your second piece of venison then, with the help of the cling film, roll the prosciutto into a tight package around the mushroom and venison and leave to chill in the fridge for a few hours.
Imagine it is a Christmas parcel, so make sure the prosciutto wrapping covers the Venison gift!


That evening or afternoon, roll the pastry out to a large rectangle big enough to easily wrap the meat in, then brush all over with egg yolk. Unwrap the cling film from the wrapped venison and roll to completely encase in the pastry. Tuck the ends in and trim any excess. Lay out more cling film and finally roll into a tight package to get an evenly thick log. Tie the ends of cling film to keep the package tight and leave in the fridge overnight or if you leave this until the day of serving, freeze the package for an hour.


When you are ready to cook, heat oven to 220C/200C fan/gas 7. Remove the cling film and brush the Wellington all over with egg yolk. Sit it on a baking tray lined with baking paper and lightly score in a feathered fashion.
Bake for 50 mins for medium rare, dropping to 200C/180C fan/ gas 7 if the pastry becomes too brown.
Remove from the oven to rest for 20 mins. At this point you can start to get you port sauce re heated and ready to serve!
Trim the end of the pastry, carefully carve in slices about 3-4cm thick and serve. Below I have made a mini version served with carrots and mash.


For the original recipe with the pancakes: go to the BBCGoodFood website.


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