Now the nights are drawing in and there is a chill in the air we start to think about the game season.
Those of you who are lucky enough to have friends who shoot and offer you numbers of pheasant will all have your own special recipes for this bird. Gone are the days when they used to be hung by the neck and only considered fit to eat once the maggots started falling out of the bottom thank heavens. Whilst game does benefit from being hung there are limits. For those of you who have to buy your game, I would first consider your local butcher or licensed game dealer but failing that many supermarkets now stock game.
Bear in mind that game is always a very lean meat and benefits from the addition of some fat. The easiest way to do this is to wrap it in streaky bacon which will keep it moist during cooking and also give you crispy bacon for a garnish. With game birds, I always cook the legs separately and slowly in stock as they are much tougher than the breast. This also gives you a good stock for the sauce. Make sure when you cook the breasts that you are not overcooking them and drying them out, especially with a pigeon which should be pan-fried until pink.
BREAST OF PHEASANT WITH LEMON & CELERY
4 x Pheasant breasts
¾ pt Game or chicken stock
1x Head of celery
1x Small onion
¼ pt Double cream
2ozs Plain flour
1x Lemon, juice and zest
4x rashers smoked bacon
1x Fresh bay leaf
•Wrap the pheasant breasts in bacon rashers and cook for 15 minutes in a preheated oven at 180
•Peel the celery and cut into 1-inch batons
•Peel and finely dice the lemon
•Melt the butter in a pan and add the onion, stir and sweat (the onion not you) for 5 minutes.
•Add the flour and stir again, pour in the chicken stock a third at a time whilst slowly whisking
•Add the celery batons and bay leaf, simmer for 5 minutes.
•To finish add the lemon zest and juice and then the double cream
•Pour over the cooked pheasant breasts for a light piquant sauce
•NB you must use double cream as single will curdle.
STUFFED DATES WITH TURKEY AND SUMAC
250 gms Turkey mince
16 Soft dates
1tsp Harissa paste
4 Blanched almonds
6 Dried figs
1/4 pt Chicken stock
2tsps Chopped coriander
4 strands Saffron
•Finely chop the whole blanched almonds.
•Season the turkey mince with salt, pepper, and the harissa paste, add the chopped almonds
•Finely chop the dried figs and mix with the cous-cous. Tip puur boiling chicken stock until just covering the
cous-cous. Cover and leave for 5 minutes. Remove cover and add chopped coriander
•Cut the dates in half and fill with the turkey mix
•Cook in a preheated oven at 160 for 7 minutes
•Melt the honey in a pan with the saffron and some chicken stock to make a syrup.
•Arrange cous-cous on a plate with the dates and
drizzle the syrup round
PEAR AND STILTON SALAD (RECIPE FOR 4)
This easy dish makes a great starter and can be prepared in advance.
2 x Ripe pears
6ozs Pecan nuts
1x Head red endive (or any other lettuce)
Drizzle of olive oil or walnut oil if you prefer
Juice of 1 lemon
•Cut the pear from top to bottom through the middle
•Lay on its side and cut a hole in the middle with a pastry cutter
•Fill the pastry cutter with Stilton the same thickness as you have cut the pear
•Place the Stilton in the hole in the pear
•Brush both sides with lemon juice
•Stand upright on a plate and garnish with pecans and lettuce
•Drizzle with oil of your choice
4 Slices Pannetone
1pt Raspberry jelly
6ozs Fresh cranberries and blackberries cooked slowly in sugar and cinnamon
1 Pot finest vanilla custard
8ozs Mascarpone cheese
2ozs Caster sugar and cinnamon mixed 50/50
3 Shots Grand Marnier
1 Orange zested
Dice the panettone and lay in the bottom of a glass, put the berry mix on top. Pour the jelly over and leave to set. Spoon the custard on top. Scoop out tablespoons of Mascapone and roll in the cinnamon sugar. Sprinkle with zested orange and put on top of the trifle. I would always use fresh cranberries and cook my own.
If you want to add a bit of extra flavour to your bird you can make a beautiful citrus butter to put between the breast skin and the meat:-
8ozs Salted butter
1 Orange, zested
1 lemon, zested
2 Sage leaves finely chopped
Ground black pepper
Soften the butter and add the citrus zest, sage leaf and black pepper. Work together until completely mixed and then spread between the skin and meat. Whilst the turkey is cooking the flavours will infuse into the meat and the breast meat will stay beautifully moist.
CHRISTMAS TIPS & RECIPES
Christmas is coming and the goose is getting fat!
Now is the time to start planning the Christmas meal and try to avoid spending the whole day in the kitchen. The best way to avoid this is to prepare early. More often than not the ‘chef of the day’ is short on space in the kitchen and stressed about cooking for large numbers of people. With a little bit of advance planning, this can be avoided. For example:-
- Cook your sprouts a day or two before and put them straight into cold water to stop them cooking and keep a nice green colour. Drain them off and keep them in the fridge. You can do this with any green veg. When you want to serve them, tip them into a pan of boiling water for a minute, drain them off a put on a knob of butter and a little salt and pepper.
- You can also cook your carrots a day or two before. I would recommend just covering them with water, a knob of butter, fresh bay leaf, a tablespoon of honey and some salt. Simmer them gently until just cooked. Turn them off and let them cool. Leave in the pan and put into the fridge ready to reheat in the same beautiful scented liquid.
- Your roast potatoes can be blanched the day before, cover with cold water and bring to the boil. Drain in a colander and shake to rough up the outside. On Christmas day dust with a little plain flour and some chopped fresh rosemary and sprinkle with some sea salt flakes. Cook in hot oil. I always use Maris Piper for this as you get a lovely crisp and fluffy potato.
The biggest issue of the day is always the turkey. ‘Will it fit in my oven?’ is the most common question. If you think it may not you can always ask your butcher to take the legs off and bone them. This will give you a great cavity to put your stuffing in. It also gives you some bones to make turkey gravy with.
What to do with the leftovers?
Quick Turkey Curry
600gms cooked, diced turkey
6ozs Plain yoghurt
4ozs Tomato juice
4ozs Coconut milk
3ozs ground almonds
1x Jar of curry paste of your choice
4ozs Fresh spinach
•Mix together the yoghurt, tomato juice, coconut milk, almonds and curry paste.
•Stir fry the turkey until hot and then add the curry sauce, cook for a further 5 minutes on a gentle simmer.
•This is a great sauce for those who like a curry but with rare beef. The beef can be fried and the sauce added, just heat and take off before it boils. As all the curry ingredients are cooked there is no need for long cooking time.