January 17, 2021

Deer, don’t you know turkey is so last year?

Are you bored of the ever tiresome, often dry turkey at Christmas? Head chef Matt Adamson at The Hart’s Head Inn in Giggleswick, North Yorkshire, has the perfect solution to ensure your Christmas dinner is a sure shot this year.

Dependant on how many people you are cooking for this festive period, there are two ‘prime’ cuts says Matt – a saddle of venison will feed about four to six or you can go for a roast haunch of venison which will do about six to eight.

Venison has a tendency of being easily overcooked, so to keep it tender, you’re going to want to give it a good basting. You’ll want to go for a slow, long cook to prevent over drying of the meat.

An amazing way of giving your venison a more ‘traditional’ feel is to create a stuffing to use – this can be rolled up inside the joint which should then be retied. You can also stick your joint with spears of venison fat to help it lard – this is optional. You’ll want to keep your joint wrapped tightly in foil for all but the last 40 or so minutes depending on size – where you’ll then want to just use the foil to cover the whole cooking tray. Allowing it to cook the last bit with the foil over the tin will get the juices flowing. Throughout the cooking process you’ll want to baste regularly and let the meat to rest for about half an hour once you’re done.

So why not stuff turkey this Christmas and try out something new and sure to be delicious.

Harts Head Hotel

Belle Hill, Giggleswick

Settle, BD24 0BA


Matt Adamson has been the head chef at The Plough at Lupton for almost four years and has now moved onto transforming the food at the Harts Head Inn since their refurbishment in March 2017. He hopes to add the Cricketer’s Inn touch to the venue and create a tantalising place for locals and visitors alike to sample seasonal British food.

Before this, Matt had worked at The Punchbowl at Crosthwaite.

Tips for a stress-free (ish) Christmas Lunch from The Hart’s Head Inn Giggleswick

  • Prepare your vegetables the night before! This tip isn’t just for restaurants; all vegetables can be done ahead of time. If you want to be super-prepared, you can braise your red cabbage up to a month ahead of time and freeze it, it keeps exceptionally well.
  • Turkey is obviously the traditional choice but a rolled turkey breast will feed up to a dozen people! Why not do that and a Christmas Ham as well, something else that can be done the day before and makes great Boxing Day sandwiches!
  • If you do decide to do a whole bird, then make sure you butter it and cover it in tin foil to keep the moisture in and prevent it from drying out. Cook it slow and low and allow at least an hour resting time before you carve it up for eating.