Perfectly paired: classic Christmas mains

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15 December, 2017

Laithwaite’s Wine People pinpoint a selection of red wines to pair with this menu of classic Christmas mains from the legendary Margaret Fulton. For a limited time when you order these wines, you'll receive a gift of two glasses and two gold-medal winning shiraz.

Duck breasts with blueberry and balsamic sauce
Serves 4

This is a terrific dish for special occasions, so it’s a perfect Christmas dinner for a small and busy family – and it only takes 15–20 minutes to cook. Serve this duck dish with a bowl of creamy mashed potatoes, asparagus or baby green beans, beetroot and orange salad or a simple green salad.

4 duck breasts
1-2 tbsp light olive oil
1 tbsp red wine vinegar
good pinch sugar
¼ tsp ground cinnamon
salt and freshly ground black pepper, to season
2/3 cup blueberries or raspberries
1 tbsp balsamic vinegar

Trim the back bone and breast bones from the duck. Heat the oil in a large frying pan over a gentle heat and fry the duck breasts, skin side down, until the skin is golden. Turn over and add the red wine vinegar, sugar and cinnamon and season with salt and pepper. Cover and cook gently for 10 minutes, until the duck breasts are tender and still juicy inside. Add half the berries and continue cooking for 5 minutes, until the berries have melted into a delicious sauce. Finally, swirl in the balsamic vinegar, let it bubble for a few seconds and check the sauce for seasoning. Just before serving, add the remaining berries and heat through.

Serve the duck breasts cut into thick slices over freshly steamed asparagus spears with the sauce to the side. Serve with creamy mashed potatoes.

Wine match: Bentwing Coonawarra Merlot

Plum and bramble-laden merlot with structural tannins and mouthwatering acidity. Bags of fruit flavour in each sip – merlot at its finest! This will work wonderfully with the berry sauce and delicate duck breast.

Order now for Christmas.

Baked Guinness ham
Serves 20

Although the ham is already cooked before being baked, further cooking with the stout helps to flavour the meat before the glaze is added. Baking continues at a higher temperature, with the sweet and spicy caramelised glaze really making this a special occasion dish. Look at doing a more economical picnic ham or a half leg for smaller family gatherings. Accompany the ham with a big bowl of still-warm boiled new potatoes, tossed in butter, with a grinding of pepper and chopped parsley. Crusty bread, a large green salad and a choice of mustards are essential.

1 x 5-6kg leg of ham
2 cans Guinness extra stout, reserving 2-3 tbsp for the glaze
whole cloves (optional)

Glaze
1 cup sugar
2 tbsp dry mustard
2 tsp ground cardamom and ginger
2-3 tbsp Guinness stout

Preheat the oven to 160°C. Cut the skin around the thick end of the knuckle (this can be made into a scallop pattern) without cutting into the fat and flesh. Ease the skin from the fat by slipping the thumb of one hand under the skin, and firmly sliding it back and forth. Turn the ham over and ease away the rest of the skin, which should come off in one piece. Place the ham, fat side up, in a roasting pan with the stout, reserving 2–3 tablespoons for the glaze. Cover with foil, crimping the edges onto the roasting pan, making it as airtight as possible, and bake for 1½ hours. Lift the foil and baste the ham with the drippings several times during cooking.

Remove from the oven, lift the foil and pour off the liquid into a saucepan. Using a sharp knife, score the fat with 4 cm interval diagonal cuts, first one way, then the opposite way, to form a diamond pattern.

In a small bowl, whisk together the glaze ingredients. Spread half the glaze mixture over the ham and stud a clove in the corner of each diamond if you like. Increase the oven temperature to 200°C and bake for a further 30–40 minutes, basting every 10 minutes with the remaining glaze. If serving hot, leave the ham in the turned-off oven for 30 minutes. If serving cold, cool and store in refrigerator overnight and serve thinly sliced. Place the ham on a stand or large serving platter and garnish with watercress or parsley.


Wine match: Beneficio McLaren Vale GSM

Raspberry-rich grenache, luscious shiraz and spicy grenache combine to create a silky, mouth-filling treat. The juicy ham off the bone will be beautifully matched to this red blend.

Order now for Christmas.

Beef Wellington
Serves 4

Named after the Iron Duke – or was it the boots that bear his name? In any case, an imaginative chef browned a fillet of beef, flamed it with brandy, topped it with pâté and wrapped it in pastry.

850g fillet of beef
salt and freshly ground black pepper, to season
60g butter
100g button mushrooms, very finely chopped
60g liver pate, jelly removed
2 sheets frozen puff pastry, thawed
1 egg lightly beaten

Season the beef with a little salt and plenty of freshly ground black pepper. Melt half of the butter in a large, heavy-based frying pan over a high heat. When foaming, add the beef and brown for 5 minutes, turning to brown all over. Transfer to a dish and refrigerate until cold.

Preheat the oven to 240°C. Line a baking tray with baking paper. Melt the remaining butter in a large frying pan over a high heat. Cook the mushrooms for 3–5 minutes, until liquid is released and completely evaporated again. Mix together the pâté and mushroom and spread evenly over the top of the beef.

Lay the beef in the centre of one sheet of pastry. Brush around the edges, close to beef, with a little beaten egg. Cover with the remaining pastry and press to seal the pastry together all around the beef. Trim the excess of long edges, leaving about 2 cm each side. Fold the short ends under to seal. Place on the prepared tray, brush with egg and decorate if you like with pastry remnants cut into leaf shapes and brushed with egg.

Bake for 30 minutes. If the pastry is becoming too brown, cover with foil. (This will be necessary if you like your beef well done.) Reduce the heat to 200°C and bake for a further 5 minutes for rare and 10 minutes for medium. Rest for 5 minutes before cutting into 4 cm thick slice.

Tip: Flame the beef with a quarter of a cup of brandy if you like.


Wine match: Mountadam Vineyards Barossa Valley Shiraz

This shiraz is delicious – elegant and high-toned, with vibrant dark fruit and notes of white pepper and spice: the ideal pairing for this flavour-packed fillet of beef.

Order now for Christmas.

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