Farm news and a Christmas day menu


Cold and wet - that’s been our summer so far and the farm is loving it*. All that extra rain after a nice warm spring has boosted the natural pastures and our deer are happily grazing on rich, green grass (we farm according to holistic principles, using a rotational grazing plan - if you are interested in sustainable farming, have a look at Allan Savory's website, he developed the system and his website is full of great information).

Meanwhile we are cooking up big things for Mandagery Creek next year, including a farm kitchen, an expansion of our branded beef program, bringing on a few (hundred) boer goats and if Tim has his way, free range chickens too. All of the animals will rotationally graze together. Lots to do. We are up for the challenge - I think - so watch this space! 

*While the rain has been a good thing for us, we are thinking of our mates trying to get a grain or cherry crop off this summer. It's been a difficult harvest.


But back to the kitchen, and if you are stuck for inspiration on what to cook for Christmas day, we have the answer!

Christmas Day Menu; venison-wrapped prosciutto with red-currant preserve and bread-sauce flavoured potato
gratin and a beautiful barbera.

The main event
Rub venison tenderloin fillets or eye round/girello with olive oil and thyme leaves. Wrap with prosciutto. When ready to cook, heat the barbecue to high and cook the fillets for 3 mins on each side and 1 minute on each side for the steaks. Rest well and then serve with all of the below.

The sauce
Redcurrant, cinnamon and star anise (the below photo represents the sum total of our first red and black currant crop...we are hoping for greater success next year but for now have had to make up the quantities with redcurrants from Mum and Dad's healthy crop).

Makes 1½ to 2 cups
350g redcurrants (and black if you have them)

2/3 cup sugar

1 orange zested and juiced

3 whole star anise

2 cinnamon sticks
2tbsp sherry vinegar

Place all ingredients into a small saucepan and bring to a boil. Stir.
 Once mixture has come to a boil, turn heat down to medium-low and simmer for 25 to 30 minutes or until the cranberries have cooked down and the sauce has thickened. Stir frequently.
 Remove from heat and allow the cranberry sauce to cool. The sauce will thicken more as it cools.  

The greens
We like a mixture of baby spinach and rocket with lots of toasted pine nuts and a simple balsamic dressing.

The potatoes
Nigella Lawson's bread sauce-flavoured Potato Gratin
Serves 6 and is perfect with venison. I used sebago potatoes grow at John Streatfield's Barry farm and picked up last weekend's Orange Farmers Market

500ml full fat milk
500ml double cream (don’t fret, it’s Christmas)
1 onion
2 cloves
1 tsp freshly ground nutmeg
3 bay leaves
1 tsp salt
2g floury potatoes, peeled and thinly sliced

Preheat oven to 220C. Lightly grease a large roasting tin (37x30cm or thereabouts). Put the milk and cream in a large saucepan. Peel the onion, cutting it in half, then stick each half with a clove, adding the studded pieces to the pan. Add the mace, bay leaves and salt then bring to nearly boiling point. Turn off the heat and put the lid on to infuse the milk for half an hour. Add the potatoes to the saucepan and cook over medium heat until almost tender (about 20mins). Fish out the onion and bay leaves and pour the whole thing into the roasting tin. Grate a little more nutmeg over the top and either cover and keep in the fridge until just before lunch or cook for 20 minutes.

The wine
Cargo Road 2008 Reserve Barbera
Winemaker James Sweetapple aced it with this beautiful barbera. It is packed with rich flavours from ripe fruit to dark chocolate with balenced tanins, acid and fruit. Yummo, perfect with our venison. When next visiting Orange, be sure to visit James’s cellar door, it’s a cracker.


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