I’m reminded of that hoary old joke: ‘ “I’m game!” she said. So he shot her.’ Or the equally venerable pub sign over a low doorway: duck or grouse. I’ll be keeping my head down this week because the shooting season is in full swing and it’s British Game Week to boot.
Some people are wary of game, expecting it to taste ‘high’. Back in my parents’ generation, pheasants weren’t considered to be ready for the kitchen until they’d been hung for so long you could pull out their tail feathers.
But times have changed and most people now choose to mature game for shorter periods, although like any meat, it still needs to hang to improve the flavour and texture. Think of dry-aged beef. Come on, even turkey started out as a game bird. Game is low in cholesterol and high in protein. And if you’re still not convinced, remember there are lots of different sorts to try. I think there’s something for everyone.
Partridge and pheasant are actually quite delicate meats. Wild rabbit has more flavour than farmed rabbit but it’s certainly not going to bite you back. Venison from, say, red deer will be much stronger in taste than the meat of a muntjac, which is my personal favourite. I’ll fight you for that fillet if I meet you at the game dealer’s.
Below are links to a dozen game dishes I’ve cooked over the last few years. Go on, give one a go this week. I’m game if you are.
Venison Goulash with Herb Dumplings
Pheasant with Celery and Cream
Hot-smoked Pheasant and Partridge
Seared Venison with Fondant Potatoes and Salsify
Good lord. Muntjac. You have very superior game dealers in your neck of the woods. I’m not that fond of game, unless pigeon counts. I’m very partial to a pigeon casserole
We’re awash with muntjac round here. And yes, pigeon is lovely. Did you see the beef and pigeon pie? Fab.
Believe it or not, I hadn’t heard the “I’m game” before. I love it.
I will be getting some pheasant in the near term. We have decided that we need to skin them rather than pluck them. I still remember the kitchen of my childhood with feathers in the air for days after plucking a brace. My late Dad used to hang them on the basement stairs until they were almost rotten. Times have changed somewhat.
Really? I thought it was an old chestnut (which incidentally goes rather well with game). I’m afraid I always skin pheasants and to be honest just keep the breasts and legs. Too much faff otherwise if you’ve been the lucky recipient of rather a lot of them. I can’t stand over-ripe game, my dad was just the same as yours. Both times and tastes have changed, I suppose. Lx
I hope to smoke them and perhaps follow up with sous vide for a bit of style. They could be excellent.
That sounds fab, do please let me know how you get on. I’ve hot smoked them but never tried cold smoking.
Oh, the old joke did make me laugh. I hadn’t heard it. My father is the world’s greatest hunter, but, alas, no pheasants or partridges here unless at a stocked place. And that’s not very sporting, I gather. Plenty of deer though!
The old ones are the best, it seems. 🙂 We’re the other way round here, in that pheasants and partridge are fairly easy to come by but deer not so much. Not because there aren’t quite a lot of them but because the only people I know who have a rifle as opposed to a shotgun aren’t always keen to share! And they’re comparatively expensive from game dealers.
OK, I am reading this backwards (catching up with all your lovely posts) but this is getting really difficult, I love game and all these recipes and dishes look so enticing, game terrine, yum. I have had a little problem with pheasants in the past though, the taste is absolutely fine but the smell…
Thanks! But pheasant shouldn’t smell bad, unless it’s been hung for ages, in which case it can be a bit whiffy. It depends on the weather but I don’t usually hang them for more than a couple of days. Better luck next time …
Bit whiffy, that was it exactly.