For our December Food and Wine matching we have invited Philippa Davis to share with us one of her festive winter-warming recipes.

Philippa is a freelance private chef who travels the world cooking for various clients and occasions. She grew up in the West Country before moving to London to work at the River Cafe and Moro. She is the food writer for The Field Magazine and has a blog, Philippa Davis, Postcard Recipes ( where she shares discreet tales, adventures and recipes of her work as a private chef.

Our December Wines of the Month include a sublime, taffeta textured Viognier from Christine Vernay that would be perfect with some griddled scallops and Jerusalem artichoke purée, and a brace of reds that would both go well with Philippa's venison dish. It might be advisable to deploy the Lirac in that and savour the Aloxe-Corton alongside it, but December is definitely a month for making slow-cooked, warming dishes and opening a few indulgent bottles.



Braised venison with wet polenta, butter and Parmesan.

The month of December for most of us is spent dashing around in a swirl of festive activities. As a private chef I find it a particularly busy and fun time as clients from various parts of the UK and France are all organising their pre Christmas celebrations, lunches and gatherings and I find myself clocking up more miles than the reindeer on Christmas Eve, well almost.

When it comes to menu planning the request I get the most, besides can I stay to cook the turkey dinner, is to pop something extra in the fridge to make the rest of the week easier. There is something so wonderful about coming home after a carol concert, school play or a frantic day shopping and knowing you have something delicious and comforting waiting ready to eat.

This braised venison is my go-to recipe and there will be dishes of it this month dotted around numerous fridges and freezers throughout the country! With its saucy richness and fragrant spices it is the perfect winter warmer.

I very much hope you enjoy this recipe and I wish you a very delicious and merry Christmas and a happy New Year.

Philippa x.


Braised venison with wet polenta, butter and Parmesan.

Braised venison with wet polenta, butter and Parmesan.


Braised venison with wet polenta, butter and Parmesan.
(Serves 6 as a starter or 4 as a lunch).

400g 2 cm cubed venison meat (haunch is best)
2 tbs olive oil
2 tbs butter
1 carrot peeled and finely chopped
1 red onion peeled and finely chopped
2 sticks celery finely chopped
2 cloves of garlic finely chopped
150g chestnut mushrooms finely chopped
6 cloves crushed
10 juniper berries crushed
Half a nutmeg grated
1 tbs chopped thyme
200ml passata
200ml red wine
400ml chicken or game stock

200g quick cook polenta
800ml salted water
2 tbs butter
3 tbs freshly grated Parmesan

50g of watercress to garnish

Braised Venison:
In a large saucepan on a medium heat fry the venison, onion, carrot, celery and garlic in the olive oil and butter for about 5 minutes (you want the meat to start to take on a little colour). Then add the juniper, nutmeg, cloves,thyme and mushrooms and fry for another few minutes.
Add the passatta, red wine and stock, season with salt and pepper then place a lid on and simmer on a low heat, stirring occasionally, for 2 and a half to 3 hours or until the venison meat is totally soft and you are left with a rich and fairly intense stew.

In a heavy based saucepan boil the water, season with salt then in a steady stream pour in the polenta whisking continuously. Cook on a low heat for about 8 minutes stirring often then mix in the 2 tbsp. butter and 2 tbsp. of the Parmesan, season with salt and pepper.

To serve:
Ladle a puddle of polenta onto a warm plate and spoon into the middle a helping of venison stew, top with extra grated parmesan and a few fresh leaves of watercress.


christmas sprouts