Add game to your festive spread, with Philippa Davis' fillet of venison with sloe gin, anchovy sauce and warm roasted sprout, chestnut and pancetta salad

Use Christmas as an opportunity to serve your guests game. Philippa Davis’ fillet of venison with sloe gin, anchovy sauce and warm roasted sprout, chestnut and pancetta salad is the perfect mix of spirit and spice, and makes an impressive main for a festive spread.

For more inspiration on getting game to the Christmas table, try our partridge, parsnip, sweet onion and gruyere crostata – a super, crown-like tart.


Serves 8

Garlic and Anchovy Sauce

  • 10 large cloves garlic, peeled
  • 150ml milk
  • 12 anchovy fillets, roughly chopped
  • ½ lemon, juice only
  • 100ml extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tbsp finely chopped rosemary
  • 100g salted butter

Celeriac and Brussel Sprout Salad

  • 1kg celeriac, peeled and cut into crescents
  • 600g Brussels sprouts, halved
  • 1 nutmeg
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 100g pancetta, chopped into 1cm cubes
  • 6 large cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 20 sage leaves
  • 2 bunches watercress, chopped


  • 1.5kg venison fillet, cut in half vertically
  • 25 juniper berries, crushed
  • 2 tbsp finely chopped rosemary
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 4 tbsp sloe gin
  • 1 ½ tbsp butter

For the garlic and anchovy sauce, in a small saucepan, simmer the garlic in the milk until soft (about 15 minutes) then drain.

Return the garlic to the pan and add the anchovy fillets, lemon juice, olive oil and rosemary.

Gently cook for five minutes, take off the heat and blitz with the butter until smooth.

For the celeriac and sprout salad, preheat oven to 180°C/350°F/Gas Mark 4.

In a pan of salted water, bring the celeriac to a simmer and cook for 10 minutes; add the Brussels sprouts and cook for another 3 minutes then drain.

Mix with the oil, nutmeg, pancetta, garlic and sage, season well then spread on a baking dish. Roast for 30 minutes.

To serve, in a large bowl toss the hot vegetables with 3 tablespoons of the warm anchovy sauce and the watercress.

Serve the remainder off the anchovy sauce on the side.

For the venison, preheat oven to 180°C/350°F/Gas Mark 4.

Season and roll the venison pieces in the juniper, rosemary and olive oil.

In an oven-proof pan, sear the fillet on a high heat on all sides then roast in the oven for 8 minutes.

Add the gin and butter to the hot pan to make a jus.

Serve in slices with the jus drizzled over.