You’d be hard pressed to find a more natural food source than game. Wild, free range, low in cholesterol and high in protein, it makes a great alternative to chicken, beef or pork. On the following pages, we present tried and tested game recipes from five of the Cotswolds’ leading restaurants and chefs…
Due to the fact the animals have lived their life in the wild, game meat is generally leaner than that of farm reared animals, with a denser texture. A diet rich in grasses, insects and berries produces game’s distinctive and sometimes strong flavours.
Traditional recipes include roasting or popping it in a pie, but professional chefs now use many joints of game and different cooking techniques. The resulting meals are healthy, tasty and can be enjoyed by all the family. Venison, for example, makes a great substitute for beef: it can be cubed and used in a casserole, minced for a burger or as a sausage. Pheasant, by contrast, makes a great curry, and simple pan frying can bring out the subtle flavours of any game bird.
The game season is quite short, running from 1 October into late January for game birds, so the autumn provides the chance to sample fresh game or stock up for the months ahead. If you are buying your meat from a local butcher, ask which estate the meat has come from and what cuts they would recommend for various dishes. The following recipes are from five of our favourite Cotswold eateries and chefs:
The Maytime Inn, Asthall, near Burford
01993 822068 / OX18 4HW / themaytime.com
Owner Dominic Wood says, “The idea behind our boar burger was to have something more than just a boring beef burger on the menu. The boar provides a richer flavour than beef and the recipe has been a constant on our menu since we opened. We’re lucky as there is a shoot just down the road from us, so we often serve pheasant with a very local provenance!” Chef Roger Williams also enjoys creating dishes such as Pheasant Salad and Saddle of Venison.
RECIPE: Wild Boar Burger Mix
(makes 8 burgers)
1 kg wild boar mince
1 red onion (diced finely)
2 large cloves of garlic
1 tsp hot smoked paprika
1 chilli, diced
1 tbsp of tomato sauce
Salt and pepper to taste
1. Sweat off the onions and garlic until tender but not browned, then allow to cool.
2. Mix all the ingredients together in a large bowl.
3. Weigh out servings of the mixture and shape into 6oz patties.
4. To cook, seal in a pan on high heat then place in the oven at 180°C for 7 minutes.
5. Remove from oven and place Compte cheese on top then put back in until the cheese has melted.
6. Serve in a brioche bun with smashed avocado, diced fresh chilli and a squeeze of lime.
The Swan at Southrop
01367 850205 / GL7 3NU / theswanatsouthrop.co.uk
Head Chef Matt Wardman says, “Whether serving as a dinner party dish or a family Sunday lunch, this is a recipe that is simple to deliver. While the outside world is being battered by wintry winds, it will give the foodies in your life a great big heart-warming hug.”
RECIPE: Steamed Partridge pudding with celeriac purée and kale (serves four)
2 whole partridges, oven ready
2 large carrots, peeled and diced
1 large celeriac
1 leek, washed and roughly chopped
100g silver skin onions, peeled
3 cloves of garlic, peeled and chopped|
2 sprigs of rosemary, chopped
2 tblsp tomato purée
300ml red wine
Optional 2 litres chicken stock
100g flat leaf parsley, chopped
500g kale, prepped and washed
Juice of 1 lemon
1 pint of milk
Salt and pepper
For the suet pastry:
Soft butter for greasing
300g self raising flour, plus extra for dusting
140g shredded suet
2 tsp English mustard powder
optional 150ml cold water
Good pinch of table salt
Pre-heat oven to 180 °C
1. Heat a large pan with oil, season the partridge with salt and pepper and then place carefully in the hot pan. Turn the partridge every few minutes until brown on all sides. Once sealed, remove from the pan and set to one side.
2. Add a little more oil to the pan. Peel the celeriac, roughly chop one half and 1 cm dice the other half. Add the carrots, onions, 1 cm diced half of the celeriac, leek, garlic and rosemary to the pan. Colour the vegetables slightly then add 4 tbsp of plain flour, mix with a wooden spoon to form a paste. Then add the tomato purée, red wine and reduce by half.
3. Add the partridges back to the pan, cover with chicken stock until submerged. Cover the pan with a lid, put into the oven, middle shelf, and cook for about an hour or until meat is falling from the bone and the vegetables are soft.
4. Once cooked, carefully remove the partridges from the pan and take all the meat off the bone. Discard lead shot if you find any, add the meat back to the pan with the chopped parsley, stir the mixture well then season to taste.
5. Generously butter a 1.5 litre pudding basin. To make the pastry, mix together the flour, mustard powder, suet and table salt. Add enough cold water, about 150ml, to make a soft dough. Remove one quarter of the dough and set to one side. On a heavily floured surface, roll out the remaining dough to make a large round, big enough to line the basin.
6. Carefully lay the pastry in the basin (aim to have 1cm of pastry overhanging the rim), then press the edges of the join together to seal. Roll out the remaining quarter into a circle big enough to cover the top.
7. Spoon the filling into the lined basin and pour over 100ml of the cooking liquid. Fold over the overhanging pastry and brush with water. Place the lid on top, pressing firmly around the edges to seal.
8. Place the basin into a deep ovenproof dish,
half fill with hot water and cover with tin foil. Place the dish into the oven on the middle shelf and cook for approximately 2 hours, or until the pastry is cooked.
9. Whilst the pudding is cooking, place the other half of the celeriac in a pan with half an onion, rosemary sprig and a pinch of salt. Then cover with milk, bring to the boil and let simmer gently until soft. Using a slotted spoon, carefully place the celeriac into a food processor and blitz until a fine purée. Discard any excess milk.
10. Just before serving, place 100g of unsalted butter into a large saucepan, add the kale and lemon juice, cover with a lid and steam for 2 minutes or until just soft.
11. Any excess cooking liquor can heated and served as extra sauce alongside.
William Thompson from catering company Eat Wild says, “This recipe is light and crispy and should be wolfed down! Fast food is a guilty pleasure for most of us at some point in our lives but it’s popular for a reason – it’s easy to eat and convenient. Why not harness the few positives there are and put a sustainable spin on it by using game?”
RECIPE: Popcorn Pheasant
4 Pheasant breasts mixed 2:1 with local British pork from your butcher
1 cup plain flour
1/2 cup polenta
1 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp cayenne pepper
1 tsp dried marjoram
1 tsp dried basil
1 tsp dried sage
2 tsp Maldon salt
1 tsp pepper
1 tbsp paprika
1 tbsp smoked paprika
1 tsp garlic
½ tsp icing sugar
½ teaspoon of bicarbonate of soda
Large bottle of Fever Tree soda water
1.Season your pheasant and pork mixture with additional salt and pepper and form into evenly sized balls the size of a grape.
2. Very lightly coat the pheasant balls with plain flour.
3. Combine all the dry ingredients in a mixing bowl.
4. Gently pour in your soda water in stages, mixing thoroughly to ensure a light and ’fizzy’ batter.
5. Add more soda as required. Remember you can put more in but it’s harder to take it out, so go easy!
6. Once the mixture has reached a slightly thicker than pancake batter consistency, add your pheasant balls.
7. Ensure the balls are thoroughly coated and transfer carefully to your fryer/pot of oil at about 160–170°C.
8. Balls take 2–3 minutes to cook, and can be drained and seasoned with further pepper and salt.
The Coterie, Cirencester
01285 658971 / GL7 1JN / thecoterie.co.uk
Miles Thwaite at The Coterie says, “Blackberries are delicious with game, adding a sweetness to the richly flavoured venison and the beetroot juice adding some depth. All three are in season at the same time, and give a feel for the shorter colder days coming in. I serve mine with cavelo nero or curly kale which are also right in season, with the deep earthy flavour grounding the venison against the sweetness of the sauce. I love this dish as it uses ingredients right on all our doorsteps: humble blackberries, beetroot and venison can be everyday ingredients made into something a little special.”
RECIPE: Rump of Venison with beetroot and blackberry sauce (serves four)
2 Venison rump (haunch) steaks
1 tbsp rapeseed oil
150ml beetroot juice
150ml beef/game stock
1 sprig rosemary
4 crushed Juniper berries
1. Heat the oil in a frying pan, cook the venison for 3 mins, then turn the meat, add the rosemary and juniper berries (so as not to burn them if added earlier) and cook for a further 3 mins (depending on how rare you like it and the thickness of the meat). Remove the meat from the pan to rest.
2. Add the balsamic vinegar and beetroot juice and boil to reduce by half to thicken and intensify the flavour.
3. Add the stock and reduce by half again.
4. Once reduced, pass through a sieve, add the blackberries, bring back to the boil, pour over the venison and serve.
The Wheatsheaf Inn, Northleach
01451 860244 / GL54 3EZ / cotswoldswheatsheaf.com
Head chef Ethan Rodgers says, “After two years working at The Wheatsheaf, I’ve built some good relationships with local farmers and suppliers and love working with their exceptional produce. The venison we currently have on the menu comes from just a mile away – so you can’t get more local!”
RECIPE: Loin of Aldsworth Venison
4 6oz Venison loin
Few knobs of butter
Few drops of lemon juice
Sprig of rosemary
Sprig of thyme
2 cloves of garlic
Drizzle of olive oil
Salt and pepper
1. Heat up a large frying pan until nearly smoking.
2. Season the venison and drizzle with oil.
3. Add to the pan and brown all sides rapidly.
4. On the last side, turn the pan down to low.
5. When the last side is brown, add the butter and allow to foam and brown slightly.
6. Add the lemon: this will stop the butter burning.
7. With the back of a knife, crush the garlic slightly in the skin and add to the pan.
8. Rub the herbs in your hand to slightly crush and add to the pan.
9. Turning often and basting with the butter, the venison will take about 3 minutes for rare (best eaten this way).
10. Serve with sides such as glazed shallots, parsnip and ceps.