Roasts to relish

CULINARY DELIGHT: Mulled venison roast.
CULINARY DELIGHT: Mulled venison roast.

For five years, the annual Selaks NZ Roast Day has been a fun occasion on New Zealand's culinary calendar. Roast Day (Sunday, August 3) celebrates our favourite cook-up, and is an occasion to enjoy with family and friends.

This year, I'm sure the Selak family will be celebrating in style. It was 80 years ago that Croatian immigrant Marino Selak enjoyed the first vintage from his 300 vines planted in Henderson, Auckland.

Marino came to New Zealand in 1906, and was devastated to find that there was little wine available with which to celebrate food, family and friends. Following the first vintage, progress was rapid. New Zealanders loved his wine.

Six years later, he was joined by nephew Mate, and they concentrated on making classical varietal wines. Land was purchased in Hawke's Bay and Marlborough, which offered new opportunities to grow different grape varieties. This year on Roast Day, I'm serving farmed venison. We will have friends from Britain as house guests, and although they've hunted deer in the wild, they're not familiar with the flavour and tenderness of the farmed meat.

For best results, do not overcook venison. There is only a little fat marbled through the tissue - less than in similar cuts of beef - and overcooking will cause the meat to become dry and tough.

Cook it to an internal temperature of 57 degrees C and then allow it to rest. This guarantees perfectly cooked medium-rare venison, and will make it easier to slice. Farmed venison is rich in iron and vitamins and low in cholesterol.

Great accompaniments for roasts include:

Parmesan roasted spuds: Toss parboiled potatoes in olive oil, finely grated parmesan cheese and fine cornmeal. Roast in more olive oil until crisp on the outside. Excellent served with beef and venison. Fresh or frozen cranberries simmered in a little red wine and combined with a diced and sauteed red onion. Sweeten with honey if necessary. Great served with roast pork, chicken or turkey. Cauliflower, blanched and then topped with a cheesy white sauce into which cooked spinach has been mashed. Top with more grated cheese, flaked almonds, fresh breadcrumbs and chopped parsley, then grill.


Double the recipe to make six generous servings. Excellent served with Selaks Merlot Cabernet.


cup red wine

1 cinnamon quill, crushed

2 star anise

6 whole cloves

1 Tbsp honey

Small strip of orange peel

1 Tbsp olive oil


400g Silver Fern Farms Venison Roast

2 Tbsp olive oil

Freshly ground black pepper to taste


1 cup (250ml) meat glaze or good beef stock

To make the marinade, combine the wine, spices, honey and orange peel in a saucepan. Slowly bring to the boil. Simmer for 1 minute, then cool. When cold, add the olive oil.

Place the venison in a plastic bag and pour in the marinade. Move the meat around so it is well coated. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour or up to 8 hours. Return the meat to room temperature before cooking.

Preheat the oven to 200C. Remove the meat from the marinade and pat dry. Reserve the marinade for the sauce. Season the meat with the black pepper.

Heat the olive oil in a frying pan and sear the venison until lightly browned on all sides. Place in a small roasting pan in the oven. Roast for 20-25 minutes for medium-rare.

Remove from the oven and tent with foil. Cover with a thick towel and stand for 10 minutes to rest.

Meanwhile, strain the marinade and bring to the boil. Add the meat glaze or stock and simmer for 1-2 minutes. Serve with the venison.

Great accompanied by unpeeled baby red jacket potatoes, plus 4cm cubes of pumpkin and large broccoli florets roasted at the same time as the venison. Serves 3-4.


A roast for vegetarians - a whole buttercup squash (or pumpkin) is stuffed with vegetables. Excellent served with chardonnay.

1 medium buttercup squash (about 1.5 kg)

25g butter, melted

1 large onion

2 tsp grated root ginger

2 cups broccoli florets, about 3cm

1 cup each: diced carrots, peas

1 cup cooked kidney beans

Salt and pepper to taste

Extra melted butter

Cut the top off the pumpkin and scoop out the seeds. Brush inside and out with the melted butter. Place upside down on a paper towel in the microwave. Cook on high power for about 5 minutes per 500g, until almost cooked.

Meanwhile, saute the onion and ginger in the remaining butter until softened. Blanch or microwave the broccoli florets until bright green.

Add all the vegetables to the onion mixture. Cover and cook over a low heat for about 5 minutes until heated through. Season.

Place the vegetables in the buttercup squash.

When ready to serve, preheat the oven to 180C. Brush the buttercup with the extra melted butter. Roast for about 15-20 minutes, until hot. Cut into wedges. Great served topped with a dollop of light sour cream. Serves 6.


My old friend Angus swears that this untraditional marinade adds zing to beef. Try serving it with the new Selaks syrah.

cup whisky

2 Tbsp prepared mustard

3-4 Tbsp olive oil

400g beef fillet

Freshly ground black pepper to taste

1 cup beef stock

1 Tbsp thyme leaves

Whisk the whisky, mustard and 3 tablespoons of the olive oil until well combined. Place the beef in a plastic bag. Add the marinade. Move the meat around so it is well coated. Refrigerate for 1 hour. Return to room temperature before cooking.

Preheat a grill on high. Remove the meat from the marinade and pat dry. Brush with the remaining oil. Season with black pepper.

Grill the meat for about 8 minutes each side. To test for doneness, press the thickest part of the meat with your fingertip. The softer it is, the rarer it is; the firmer it is, the more cooked it is. Tent with foil and cover with a thick towel. Rest for 10 minutes before slicing.

Meanwhile, bring the marinade, stock and thyme to the boil. Simmer for 10 minutes. Serve with the meat. Serves 3-4.


Kaffir lime leaves are available from the herb section of supermarkets. Serve with a pinot noir.

1.2kg lamb leg

4 large kaffir lime leaves

8 large garlic cloves, halved lengthwise

Flaky sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Thai-style mint sauce:

cup rice vinegar

2 Tbsp each: palm or brown sugar, rice bran oil

1 Tbsp fish sauce

Finely grated rind and juice of 1 lime

2-3 red chillies, seeded and thinly sliced

1 cups mint leaves, sliced

Preheat the oven to 160C. Make slits in the lamb leg large enough to hold the lime leaves and garlic cloves.

Remove the central vein from the lime leaves, and divide the leaves so you have 4 portions from each. Insert in the slits with garlic cloves. Sprinkle with salt and pepper.

Roast the lamb for about 30 minutes per 500g. Tent with foil and cover with a thick towel. Rest for 10 minutes before slicing.

To make the sauce, whisk the sugar with the liquid ingredients. Add the chillies and mint leaves. Serve at room temperature. Serves 6.

The Marlborough Express