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Parson's Venison

Not venison at all but a leg of lamb, given a richer, fuller flavour reminiscent of game. The boned joint is stuffed with a savoury mushroom mixture, then marinated and cooked in a heady concoction of wine and port, seasoned with spices.

ingredients

serves 4 - 6
25 g (1 oz) butter
1 small onion, skinned and finely chopped
100 g (4 oz) mushrooms, chopped
100 g (4 oz) cooked ham, chopped
30 ml (2 tbsp) snipped fresh chives
salt and pepper
1.8-2 kg (4 - 4 1/2 lb) leg of lamb, skinned and boned
200 ml (7 fl oz) dry red wine
75 ml (3 fl oz) port
6 juniper berries, crushed
1.25 ml (1/4 tsp) ground allspice
45 ml (3 tbsp) red wine vinegar
1 bay leaf
1.25 ml (1/4 tsp) freshly grated nutmeg

method

1. Melt half the butter in a saucepan, add the onion and mushrooms and cook, stirring frequently, until the onion is soft but not browned. Stir in the ham and chives and season to taste. Leave to cool.

2. Season the lamb inside and out with pepper, then spread onion mixture over inside. Roll up tightly and tie securely. Place in a large glass bowl or casserole.

3. To make the marinade, mix remaining ingredients, except butter, pour over lamb, cover and leave in a cool place for 24 hours, turning occasionally.

4. Remove the meat from the marinade, drain and dry. Reserve the marinade. Melt the remaining butter in a flameproof casserole. Add the meat and brown on all sides over medium to high heat.

5. Pour in the marinade, bring almost to the boil, cover and roast at 180°C (350°F) mark 4 for l 3/4 - 2 hours, until the meat is tender, basting occasionally with marinade.

6. Transfer meat to a warmed plate. Skim fat from surface of liquid, then boil rapidly until reduced. Remove bay leaf, adjust seasoning and serve with meat.

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