Wales on the Menu - Series 2

Programme Five: The Home Cook

Justine Pickering

This week's home cook is Justine Pickering, a journalist who now has her hands full bringing up four daughters and organising large scale events for charity. As the wife of WRU Chairman David, Justine is used to attending dinners and functions through the rugby season but this time she's in the kitchen rather than at the table.

As it's Wales On The Menu's Christmas special, food critic Simon Wright challenges Justine to create an alternative to the traditional turkey and sprouts. Her beef dish is put to the test at one of Wales's top country house hotels. But will it be a Christmas cracker or a festive failure?

Top chef Jim Hamilton gives Justine some invaluable advice on how to ensure the best possible flavour for her fillet of beef and why clever presentation is key to a diner's "perception of value".

"Jim was just brilliant," says Justine. "He gave me so many tips and it was a real honour cooking in his professional kitchen."

Recipe for Christmas Beef with Port Jus

One fillet of beef
Lardo (ask your butcher)

Homemade stock (use beef knuckle or veal bones)
Add bouquet Garni Eight black peppercorns
2 Carrots
2 sticks Celery
One Onion
Roast the bones until caramelised.

Cover the bones and veg with enough water to just cover them and simmer for approx four hours. Skim any fat and foam and strain through a sieve.

Then, simmer the clear stock until reduced by at least half.

Meanwhile, sear the fillet all over in very hot oil and butter, wrap in lardo strips and roast in a hot oven.

Add a glass of port, a tablespoon of cranberry sauce, and plenty of salt and black pepper to taste, to the reduced stock and after the meat has rested, add the meat juices. Continue to reduce stock until syrupy and then whisk in a spoonful of unsalted butter.

Sprouts in sage butter with pancetta.

Fry pancetta or lardons in butter and a scant tsp of olive oil until crispy.

Steam or boil sprouts until firm yet tender. Slice and add to the pancetta. Stir fry and add a sprinkle of chopped fresh sage.


Boil batons or bite sized chunks until tender, then add to a pan with a little melted butter, seasoning and a teaspoonful of honey and a squeeze of orange juice. Add a teaspoon of water to create a glaze, and toss the carrots until coated in the butter.

Dauphinoise Potatoes

Slice Maris Piper potatoes (allow one large potato per person) into thin slices and place in a large pan.

Cover with double cream, milk, crushed garlic, more salt than you think you'll need, a pinch of nutmeg, black pepper and a bay leaf.

Simmer until potatoes are tender and pour into an ovenproof dish or a roasting tin.

Sprinkle with Gruyere cheese or parmesan and bake until golden and tender.

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