Sunday Lunch Campaign: 'Make time for a proper lunch - and no excuses'

Turn the TV off and get the children round the table, says latest chef to back our campaign
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The Independent Online

One of Michelin-starred chef Richard Corrigan's earliest memories is of Sunday lunch. Growing up on a small farm in Ireland he was one of seven children in a family where money was always scarce. The highlight of the week was the big family lunch on a Sunday - until, that is, the week the lunch disappeared into the family dog.

"My mother had this habit of always putting our Sunday rib of beef out on the windowsill to cool down under a white cloth," said the proprietor of Lindsay House and the latest chef to back the IoS Sunday Lunch Campaign. "One day, our Alsatian Buster escaped with the whole rib. I can't have been very old at the time, but that was my big memory - of this rib of beef just vanishing from the windowsill. Buster wasn't seen for three days afterwards - I think he was waiting for tempers to die down."

Mr Corrigan, 43, will be preparing a dish for the Queen at a special banquet to mark her 80th birthday.

Sunday lunch, he said, is something that too many people are losing sight of in a modern food culture built upon the twin foundations of minimum effort and maximum speed.

"It is so important that we actually sit around the table with our families for a proper meal at least once a week," he said. "There's a reality in the saying that the family who eat together, stay together. All these people rushing off to live a faster life - they're just rushing off to an early grave. Sunday is a very important day to me, and Sunday lunch is a big part of that - it's sacred. People need to take the time, to make the time and stop making excuses."

Mr Corrigan, who lives in north London with his wife Maria and their three children - Richard, 17, Jessica, 10, and six-year-old Robert - said he considered the meal as an important part of his children's upbringing. "People should shop daily, cook daily, turn the television off and make their kids sit at the table," he said. "That way you not only get healthier children, but also better-educated children who know how to communicate properly."

The recipe: Venison Wellington

Ingredients

1 venison fillet, 650g/1lb 7oz

1 12 tbsp juniper berries

1 12 tbsp black pepper

olive oil

500g/1lb 2oz shallots, chopped

2 cloves garlic, chopped

12 bunch thyme, leaves only

2kg/4 12lb button mushrooms, chopped

50ml/2fl oz brandy

4 leaves Savoy cabbage

1 sheet ready-rolled puff pastry

1 free-range egg, beaten

salt and pepper

For the venison sauce:

250g/9oz venison bone, chopped

2 tsp vegetable oil

25g/1oz carrots, parsnips, chopped,

1 stick celery, chopped

2 shallots, chopped

25g/1oz leeks, chopped

3 sprigs thyme

1 bay leaf

2 cloves garlic, crushed

4 crushed juniper berries

100ml/3 12fl oz red wine

50ml/2fl oz ruby port

290ml/12 pint veal stock

salt and pepper

Method:

Preheat oven to 160C/325F/Gas 3. Roast venison bones for 15-20 minutes, then leave to cool. Heat vegetable oil in a pan, browning all the vegetables with the thyme, bay leaf and garlic.

Add crushed juniper berries, venison bones, red wine, port and cook until liquid is reduced by half. Add veal stock then season.

Simmer for one hour. Pass the sauce through a fine sieve, transferring to a clean pan. Skim the top off the sauce. Place back on the hob and reduce volume by half.

Season venison fillet with the juniper and pepper. Heat olive oil in pan then add the venison fillet, searing for one minute on each side. Remove from the pan allowing to rest.

Heat 1 tbsp olive oil in a separate pan and sauté the shallots and garlic with the thyme for 1-2 minutes. Add the mushrooms and fry for 2-3 minutes, then stir in the brandy.

On a sheet of cling film, spoon mushroom mixture to make a layer that is the same length as venison fillet and twice the width. Place the venison on top and roll up tightly in the cling film to form a cylinder shape. Place in the freezer for 20 minutes.

Arrange the blanched cabbage leaves on separate cling film sheet. Place unwrapped mushroom and venison cylinder on top and wrap again.

Roll out the puff pastry for wrapping around the fillet. Unwrap cabbage, mushroom and venison parcel and place on top of the puff pastry. Brush the edges of the pastry with beaten egg, then rolling up tightly, sealing edges.

Leave for 30 minutes. Turn the oven up to 180C/350F/Gas 4. Place the pastry parcel on a baking tray and bake for 16 minutes, then rest for eight minutes. Slice a thick piece of venison and place on a plate, drizzling venison sauce around it.

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