Last month we were really excited to be invited by Rosie French of French & Grace in Brixton Market to take over the restaurant for one night only. What an amazing evening! We had two sittings and packed in about 24 in each on with a 5 course menu of locally sourced and seasonal food.
The menu went a little something like this:
As you can see, we are big fans of cooking game, mainly due to years spent in the Scottish Highlands with guests arriving back off the hill after a day in the pissing rain and presenting you with various dead birds, fish and animals to cook up. Many of which we’d never heard of. We were once presented with a giant river trout at 7am which we had to gut, scale, fillet and cook in time for breakfast. Nice.
Game has a really distinct taste and makes a great stock. It also makes a great pie which we had for the main course of our pop up (pheasant pie, or P.P. as our big bro likes to call it). One of our most popular canapes is the venison pie with grated chocolate, classic combination – venison and chocolate are very good pals.
Here are our top tips on cooking game:
Venison – This is a very lean meat and need lots of fat added to it to make it super tasty. When making pies, best to use the haunch but this can also be roasted whole for a delicious dinner or made into a stew. It’s good to marinade it before cooking to make the meat more tender and bring the flavour out.
When making pies or casseroles, we like to add lardons and butter to further enhance the taste.
Game birds – These need to be hung for 24 hours plus after they have been killed (or you can buy ‘ready to roast’ from your butcher – we’d recommend Jones the Butcher in Herne Hill, they are amaze). Hanging the meat enhances that ‘gamey flavour’.
It’s best to roast game birds due to the low fat and cholesterol (maybe one for Deliciously Ella’s new book…) in the meat and roasting allows you to add some yum factor in the form of bacon, lard, beef fat, lardons (etc. etc). This will also help keep in the moisture as game birds are on the smaller size (woodcock, pigeon, partridge, quail) and can dry out very easily.
For rabbits, you can do almost anything with them – stews, roasted whole, terrine, curry, mince burgers, broth and my fav – rabbit rillette. Probably not the most healthy dish in the world but unbelievably tasty.
Rabbit is a very tough meat and responds best to slow cooking submerged in liquid or confit in fat. Good mates of rabbit are garlic, rosemary, sage and prunes along with other meats such as ham. It also has a seriously good relationship with salt!
Here is our favourite recipe for Rabbit Rillette:
MAKES 15 CANAPES
1 RABBIT, JOINTED
500G PORK BELLY, CUT INTO CHUNKS
A BUNCH OF THYME AND A COUPLE OF BAY LEAVES
ABOUT A 8 GARLIC CLOVES
1 KG DUCK FAT
1 TEASPOON OF GROUND MACE
JUICE OF HALF A LEMON
SEASONING – LOADS OF SALT AND PEPPER
- COMBINE RABBIT, PORK BELLY, SEASONING AND HERBS IN A TUB IN THE FRIDGE AND LEAVE COVERED OVERNIGHT
2. THE NEXT DAY, TAKE OFF THE SEASONING AND IN A ROASTING TRAY, COVER THE RABBIT IN THE FAT. PUT INTO THE OVEN ON 160C (MAKE SURE THE MEAT IS COVERED BY THE FAT). COOK UNTIL THE MEAT IS TENDER (3 – 4 HOURS)
3. WHEN THE MEAT IS READY AND FALLING APART, TAKE IT OUT OF THE TIN AND THE FAT AND LEAVE TO COOL. STRAIN THE FAT WHILST IT IS STILL HOT – YOU’LL NEED THIS LATER!
4. SHRED ALL THE MEAT TOGETHER AND ADD THE LEMON JUICE AND MACE PLUS ANY ADDITIONAL SEASONING YOU THINK IT NEEDS (YOU MIGHT FIND YOURSELF ‘TESTING’ THE FLAVOUR QUITE A FEW TIMES AS IT IS SO DELICIOUS)
5. WE STORE OUR RILLETTES IN KILNER JARS COVERED IN THE EXCESS FAT TO PRESERVE IT. THIS WILL KEEP FOR A FEW WEEKS IN THE FRIDGE (IF IT LASTS THAT LONG)