A Tasting of Game
It’s a feather and fur feast here at the British Larder Suffolk, as we celebrate the game fortnight between the 6th and 20th of November. In honour of this we created a game tasting plate which we serve either as a starter for one hungry person or two to share, or even as a lovely main for one. This dish has it all: colour, texture, taste and smell.
David Grimwood from the Froize brought me in this wonderful array of wild ducks. I must confess that before we opened the doors here in Suffolk both Ross and I had never plucked a bird or skinned a rabbit, and we are so incredibly grateful that we now know how it’s done. We armed ourselves with a bit of skill and it’s wonderful! Highly recommended for all enthusiastic cooks out there. It could be perceived as a bit of a gory task; however the satisfaction and achievement is second to none.
As chefs cooking primarily in London, we used to receive oven-ready birds in polystyrene packets covered in cling film and one would never actually see the real bird in feather. Now we are reeducating ourselves by familiarising ourselves with the tremendous and wonderful array of wild ducks. In the picture below there are four different varieties: mallard, shoveler, teal and wigeon. The teal is the smallest, shoveler has the long shovel like beak, the wigeon is the fat one and mallard the colorful one with the green head. The tastes all range form mild to rich and gamy in taste, and offer a brilliantly diversity in cooking – I made a wonderful game terrine with some of the wild ducks.
The fields around the Larder are home to plenty of cute furry bunnies - we spend hours staring at them at night, as they are … well, cute! However they do eat well and we can think of so many different dishes to cook with wild rabbit. For this game tasting platter the rabbit legs were turned into a delicious rillette, also known as a pate.
Red leg partridges are plentiful and for me are my favourite game bird. It’s small but has a subtle, gentle game taste. We often make partridge sausage rolls and serve them at the bar as a snack, or alternatively we make them into this delicious partridge and prune sausage rapped in smoked streaky bacon.
We also use the bones and make a wonderful game stock which is perfect for a creamy parsnip soup served with partridge sausage rolls.
Last but not least is the piece de résistance,and that is the venison scotch egg. Mmm… it’s mouthwatering delicious and truly amazing. It’s a bit of hard work; labour intensive, but in our words it’s a labour of love!
This meat feast of game is not for the faint-hearted but definately worth the wait. The game season is short and before we know it it’s the end of January and all these wonderful delicacies will have to wait until the next game season.
Chef’s Tip: If you are not brave enough to pluck your own partridges and skin the rabbits then buy them oven ready from the Wild Meat Company or alternatively enroll on this wonderful Wild Meat in a Day event hosted by Food Safari here at the British Larder, Suffolk HQ.
Wild Rabbit Rillette
- 4 rabbit legs
- 2tbs olive oil
- 1l chicken stock
- 1 large sprig of thyme + 1 extra large sprig
- 1 clove of garlic, lightly crushed
- 1 carrot, cut into 6 pieces, skin on
- 1 leek, cut into 8 pieces and washed
- 1 onion, peeled and cut into 8
- 1 tsp of crushed coriander seeds
- Salt and freshly cracked black pepper
- 200g duck or goose fat
- 2 banana shallots, finely chopped
- 1tbs of mixed chopped parsley, chervil and chives
- 1tbs chopped capers and gherkins
To braise the rabbit legs: Pre-heat the oven to 160 °C. Heat a medium oven proof casserole dish with the oil, season the legs lightly and brown them in the dish, add the prepared onions, leek, carrot, crushed coriander seeds, one sprig of thyme and crushed garlic, brown until golden then add the stock. Cover the dish with the lid and once the stock is starting to boil transfer the dish to the oven and braise the legs for 1 hour, until they are tender. Let the rabbit legs cool slightly, drain them from the liquid and flake the meat.
Heat a small frying pan with 1 tbs of the duck fat and saute the chopped banana shallots until tender, add the flaked rabbit meat and add another 80g of the duck fat, stir in the chopped herbs, capers and gherkins. Taste and adjust the seasoning if needed.
Spoon the rillette into the serving jars, leave them to cool, melt the remaining duck fat and pour it onto the surface of the rilette and set them in the fridge.
- 2 ham hocks, cooked
- 500ml ham cooking liquid
- 5 gelatine leaves
- two mallard duck legs cooked in duck fat
- 2 rabbit legs, cooked and flaked
- 2 breast of the wild duck
- 100g trompett de la mort mushrooms
- 100g finely shredded Savoy cabbage
Cook the ham hocks, flake once cooked and pass the cooking liquid through a fine sieve. Soak the gelatine leaves and dissolve, mix the gelatine with 500ml of the ham stock.
Cook and flake the duck and rabbit legs. Prepare the mushrooms and saute them in butter. Blanch the shredded cabbage in boiling water, refresh in ice water, drain and set aside.
Pan-fry the duck breast and cook them for about 6 - 8 minutes, until medium rare. Let them rest and once rested cut them into strips.
Line a small terrine mould with cling film and layer the terrine with the different components, pour the stock in between each layer.
Press and leave the terrine to set over night in the fridge.
Venison Scotch Egg
- 4 hens eggs, soft boiled (7 minutes)
- 200g cooked venison shoulder meat
- 200g Cumberland sausage meat
- Salt and freshly cracked black pepper
- 2 tbs finely chopped mixed herbs such as parsley, chives and chervil
- 50g flour
- 1 whole raw egg, lightly whipped
- 200g panko breadcrumbs
Mix the cooked venison meat with the sausage meat, seasoning and the chopped herbs. Cook the eggs and peel once cold.
Pack the venison sausage meat around the cooked, soft boiled egg, leave them to set in the fridge.
Panée the eggs: roll the scotch egg in the flour, then the whipped egg and then last in the panko breadcrumbs.
Heat a deep fat fryer to 160°C, fry the eggs until golden brown, drain and serve them immediately.
Partridge, Prune and Smoked Streaky Bacon Sausages
- 1 whole partridge
- 100g Cumberland sausage meat
- 50g prunes, chopped and soaked in 2 tables spoons of Armagnac
- 2 tbs chopped mixed soft herbs, parsley, chervil and chives
- 1 banana shallot, finely diced
- 1tbs olive oil
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 8 rashers of smoked streaky bacon
Preheat the oven to 180 °C. Season the partridge and rub the oil over the bird. Roast it in the preheated oven for 20 minutes, leave to rest and flake the leg and breast meat.
Mix the cooked partridge with the soaked prunes, sausage meat, shallots and chopped shallots, season to taste.
Shape 25g sausages and wrap one slice of smoked streaky bacon around each sausage.
Cook the sausages in the preheated oven for 12 - 15 minutes. Serve immediately.
Cut a generous slice of the terrine and garnish it with mixed cress. Place the rabbit rillette on the plate along with the venison scotch egg and the partridge sausages. Serve with a jar of home made piccalilli.