Christmas recipe: Mandarin ice cream

Venison. Lots of venison

Venison. Lots of venison - Credit: Archant

Frances Bissell is having an ‘anything but turkey’ this Christmas and will be roasting wild venison followed by mandarin ice-cream

Mandarin ice cream

Mandarin ice cream - Credit: Archant

What will you be cooking over the holidays? Will you be experimenting or serving the family favourite? My Christmases tend to alternate between a juicy turkey and an “anything but turkey”. This year it’s the latter.

I like the Continental idea of fish for Christmas Eve, so will be looking for a John Dory, a brill, turbot or wild sea bass to bake whole. Charlotte potatoes, simply boiled in their skins will be the accompaniment. Lemon and parsley butter will do nicely with fish and potatoes, and a bitter leaf salad will be all the greens needed.

But Christmas Day calls for a special bottle of red, so meat will be the main course chez Bissell. And I found the perfect thing a few weeks ago, venison. It was wild fallow deer from the New Forest (check out Parliament Hill Farmers’ Market on Saturdays) and I roasted a piece of fillet, perfect for two. It is expensive, but there is no waste and it is utterly delicious, full of flavour and with a fine-grained texture. And the idea of eating wild, free-range, plant-nourished meat is very appealing. For a larger gathering, I would recommend a haunch, a loin or similar majestic joint. This will require longer cooking and you might want to lard the meat. Whichever piece you choose, a creamy, golden gratin of potatoes, celeriac or Jerusalem artichokes is just right.

At this time of year, Spain delivers some of our traditional Christmas treats, clementines, tangerines, satsumas, sweet, juicy, seedless and easy to peel, perfect for the Christmas stocking. But even better, more piercingly fragrant and intense is the mandarin. Some I will use in a version of Bucks Fizz, mixing the juice with a fresh and lively cava. If I have time, I might make some mandarin marmalade, and if I were cooking turkey, I would also be making mandarin and cranberry preserve, to serve chilled. More mandarins will go into ice creams and sorbets, a nice counterpoint to the mince pies and Christmas pudding. On that note, I wish you all a joyful and gastronomic Christmas.

Mandarin ice cream

(Serves 6)

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600 ml single cream

175 g caster sugar

2 tablespoons grated mandarin zest

6 free-range egg yolks, lightly beaten

300 ml freshly squeezed mandarin juice, chilled

Bring the cream, sugar and zest to the boil, and pour it over the egg yolks in a bowl, whisking continuously. Sieve the mixture into a clean saucepan, and cook over a very low heat, but without boiling and curdling the mixture, until the custard thickens and coats the back of a spoon. Remove from the heat, pour into a bowl, cool, then cover and refrigerate overnight to let the flavour ripen. Next day, mix with the clementine juice, and freeze in an ice cream maker or sorbetière. This is very good served with Christmas pud instead of brandy butter or cream.

Cook’s note: the eagle-eyed cook short of time will probably think to buy a carton of good quality fresh custard and start from there.