Local game: Wild Venison and Pigeon

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A bit about venison 

Venison, is meat from the Fallow deer (and others, but in Sussex, primarily Fallow) and is low in fat, high in protein and stacked with vitamins and iron. It has a wonderful flavour that lends itself to a variety of cooking methods. The meat is dark, lean and generally tender, though wild venison might be a little tougher than farmed, as the deer have had more exercise. Age has also an influence on the level of tenderness – the younger the animal, the more tender the meat…

Free-range, it has a slightly finer grain than beef, but it can however be treated the same way – with the haunch best for roasting, and steaks and chops fried or barbecued.

Nutritional facts about venison

Venison has more protein than any other red meat, which means that it keeps you full and satisfied for longer. It is also particularly rich in iron and full of B vitamins.

How to store venison

Store venison in the fridge, wrapped, for up to two days. If you’re marinating your venison, keep the meat with its mix on the bottom shelf of the fridge for up to two days, in a covered container. Take out of the fridge around one hour before cooking, to allow it to return to room temperature.


Cooking venison

Venison is very lean, so either cook it fast and high, or add extra fat (belly pork, bacon, or butter) to keep it moist. Tougher cuts (shoulder, neck and shin) should be braised or stewed or made into mince for venison burgers or sausages.

Brown in hot oil, then roast (about 10 minutes per 500g.). Grill, barbecue or fry (brown quickly, then cook for one minute on each side).

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A bit about pigeon

Wood pigeon is very different from town pigeon; they are entirely wild and feed greedily both on vegetables grown in gardens and on crops in farmer’s fields. The meat is versatile with a lovely, wild gamey flavour. Wood pigeon is actually the perfect meat for anyone who wants sustainable and local food.

Rapidly seared and then rested, soft, succulent boned breast has the fine grain of a prime steak, but thanks to the diversity of its wild diet (seeds, acorns, buds, berries, green crops) it has a more complex earthy, woodland taste.

Ideal flavours to pair with wood pigeon

Fruits: blackberries, quince

Herbs: thyme, rosemary

Spices: cloves, chilli, ginger, cardamon, juniper

Vegetables: cabbage, celeriac, mushrooms

 


Cooking wood pigeon

 Season the birds with a little fat or butter and sear in an ovenproof pan first on their backs, sides and briefly on their breasts until golden brown, before turning over onto their backs and roasting in a pre-heated oven. Roast at a high heat for a short period. Slow cook or casserole older birds.

Here is a delicious recipe made with pigeon breasts. And as pigeon breasts are quite small, they are just perfect with salad and a really quick supper if you simmer the raspberry reduction first (or while getting on with other jobs!).

Wood pigeon salad with raspberry balsamic reduction

Serves 6 / Cooking: 45 minutes

Ingredients

  • Wood pigeon breasts
  • raspberries
  • 3 tbsp of water
  • golden caster sugar
  • 40 ml. balsamic vinegar
  • pine nuts
  • baby salad leaves
  • salt, freshly ground
  • pepper, freshly ground

 

  1. To make the raspberry balsamic reduction, heat the raspberries, water and a large pinch of sugar in a small saucepan. Break up the raspberries with the back of a spoon and stir occasionally over a medium heat until the raspberries have broken down completely into a puree.
  2. Remove from the heat. When cool to touch, press the puree through a fine sieve until only the seeds remain. Add the balsamic vinegar to the mixture and return to the heat. Simmer until the mixture is reduced by half. It should be thick, but you should still be able to drizzle it over the salads. Set aside to cool.
  3. Toast the pine nuts lightly in a medium, dry frying pan. Arrange the salad leaves on 6 plates and sprinkle over the pine nuts.
  4. Return to the now hot pan you used to toast the pine nuts to the heat and turn it up to the high. Pan-fry the pigeon breasts for about 3 minutes on each side, making sure not to move them around the pan so you get a nice crust. Store them on a warm plate under kitchen foil while you’re cooking the whole batch.
  5. Slice the breasts with a very sharp knife and arrange over the salads. Drizzle generously with the raspberry balsamic reduction and serve immediately.

 

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Find the recipe on http://www.greatbritishchefs.com/recipes/pan-fried-wood-pigeon-salad-recipe

 


 

Visit our website at www.finandfarm.co.uk 

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Local game: Wild Venison and Pigeon

Sussex Organic Eggs from Springles Farm

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As you know, at Fin and Farm, we are committed to only selling the best produce.  We’ve been asked about certified organic eggs (although all our eggs are absolutely free range and not fed with grain that has added growth hormones or other undesirable chemicals).

When we were researching eggs, the reality of what constitutes free range, in some cases, is pretty thin and welfare statements about access to fresh air, light and space can be manipulated.  This is why we carefully choose our farms and although organic eggs are subjected to tighter regulation, we wanted to see for ourselves before introducing them on our list.

So we visited Springles Farm in Barcombe this week and had the chance to meet Andy, the owner of the farm. He gave us a tour, where we saw the chicken-roosts and the large fields available for the hens to roam.

Andy and his team believe that their hens deserve a happy and healthy life, providing them with an environment that meets their needs. Hens –for example- have easy access to the outdoors (as you can see in the picture above). They must live in a place that gives them fresh air, light, space to exercise, clean food, water and plenty of bedding.

And as taking care of his hens is the most important thing for him, Andy feeds them with high-quality organic feed. The chickens are fed with Humphrey Feeds, which is produced by a family run local company which has 80 years experience of highest quality feed.


 

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Lots of eggs are misshapen…which you’ll never see in the supermarkets… so we asked Andy about it, and he told us that funny shaped eggs are pretty common.  It take approximately 25 hours for a hen to produce an egg and all kinds of things can affect the shape of the egg… maybe a result of something simple, like being bothered by another hen who’s trying to steal her roosting spot or the food she has been eating. It happens all the time, but these eggs are often rejected by large supermarkets, so we are used to seeing only the perfectly regular specimens – sadly.

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Storing eggs

There are lots of schools of thought about storing eggs.  It is thought that if you do keep them in the fridge, then it’s best not to store in the door.  The constant change in temperature can cause them to degenerate quicker.

Eggs in the supermarket aren’t kept in the fridge, but they are at a pretty constant temperature and it does seem that the rule of thumb is that keeping them chilled gives them the same consistent temperature to keep them as fresh as possible.

Bring eggs up to room temperature before cooking to stop the yolks from breaking too easily.

Can you freeze eggs?

Apparently, yes – this blog from Home Farmer gives you lots of tips on freezing eggs.  However, it seems that the best use is for cakes as eating a gelatinous egg white doesn’t fill us with glee with our morning scrambled egg.


 

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Sussex Organic Eggs from Springles Farm

Local Game: Pheasant

 

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Pheasant is native to Asia and has been widely introduced elsewhere as a game bird. Roaming pheasant enjoy scratching around in woods; their ideal habitat and are so familiar in landscape.

Our pheasant is supplied  by Chanctonbury Game – in Sussex at the foot of the downs.  They are experts in preparing dressing wild game – all of it wild and never farmed.

Nutritional facts about game … there are real health benefits to eating game. Pheasant and partridge contain a high level in iron, protein, vitamin B and selenium, which helps to protect cells from damage caused by free radicals. Pheasant is also appreciated for its low fat content as it contains nearly half the fat found in a equal size of beef.

But what does the pheasant taste like ?

Wild pheasants generally have a gamey flavour characteristic of whatever the birds have been eating. Their flesh is pale, lean and firm. Cooking game can minimize their deep flavour by soaking it in salt water or milk, if you prefer a less rich taste. The breast meat is more delicate in flavour and tender than the legs, which tend to be darker in colour and more meaty.


Cooking pheasant

In general, young birds are more tender than older ones, and are best roasted or grilled. Older birds are better cooked slowly such as in a casserole or braising.

Usually sold in a brace – a hen and a cock – young birds only need quick roasting and benefits from covering with a layer of streaky bacon or regular basting during cooking. Older birds stand up well to being braised or are even robust enough to curry.

Some cooking tips for your pheasant…. Pheasant hens tend to be plumper and better for roasting. Cock pheasants take well to lengthier cooking times as they can be tougher and age is also a factor.

In a traditional spirit, here is a recipe for roast pheasant with white wine and Charlotte potatoes. This recipe was developed to keep the bird moist and experimenting with different traditional ingredients.

Simple Roast Pheasant

Serves 4

Ingredients

  • Salt and black pepper
  • 2 pheasants (young hens are best)
  • olive oil
  • 1 pack (100g) pancetta lardons
  • 1 red onion, peeled and cut into thin rings
  • 1 clove garlic, peeled and chopped into slithers
  • 2 juniper berries crushed with a few black peppercorns
  • 700g Charlotte potatoes, cut on the diagonal into 3 pieces
  • 6 rashers pancetta or streaky bacon
  • 2 large glasses white wine

Preheat the oven to 200°C Mark 6. Salt and pepper the pheasants. In the bottom of a large, cast-iron casserole dish, add 2 tbsps of olive oil and brown the pheasants all over. Set aside. Tip in the lardons and fry until nearly crisp on a high heat. Add the onion, turn the heat down and cook for a few minutes, stirring continuously until soft. Add the garlic, a small sprinkle of salt, crushed juniper berries and peppercorns and cook for a further minute. Add the potatoes and stir it all together.

Sit the pheasant on top and cover the breasts with the pancetta rashers or bacon. Heat the wine and pour it over. Put the lid on and place in the oven for 45 minutes to an hour.

 

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Local Game: Pheasant

Local Game: Wild Mallard

Wild Mallard is the largest and best-known of all the wild duck and also the most popular for cooking. It has a stronger flavour than domesticated ducks and much leaner flesh.

Buying Wild Mallard is the best way to ensure the bird has actually spent a considerable time in its natural environment, which creates a strong tasting lean meat.

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How to store wild mallard?

 Keep in the fridge in the original wrapping, below and away from cooked foods and any ready to eat foods.

If you want to freeze the bird, freeze on the day of purchase for up to 1 month. To defrost, remove from the original packaging and place on a plate or tray and cover. Defrost thoroughly in the bottom of the fridge, and take it out of the freezer a day or two before cooking.


 Cooking Wild Mallard

The best way to cook a wild mallard is to roast it. The different parts of the bird will sometimes require different cooking techniques for the best results. The breast is wonderful roasted, grilled or sautéed, while legs are delicious if you braise or confit them and are also a great addition to stews and casseroles.

One bird generally serves 2 or 3 people..

Serve with game chips (thinly sliced deep-fried potatoes) or roast potatoes and a tangy fruit sauce such as cherry or orange (and local cherries are in season as we write this).

Wild Mallard can also be paired with sharp, fruity flavour like apples, blueberries and raspberries which can be found around the bird’s natural habitat. You can enjoy experimenting with different seasonal accompaniments.

Two ingredients, perhaps three, are usually enough to accompany wild mallard to bring out the delicious, rich flavour.

Roast Wild Mallard with apples, rosemary and bacon.

Serves 6.

Ingredients

  • 3 mallards
  • 1 lemon
  • 6 cloves garlic
  • 3 bay leaves
  • butter
  • 12 slices pancetta or similar streaky bacon, thinly cut
  • 6 sprigs rosemary
  • spinach
  • 3 Bramley or similar cooking apples
  • 2 shallots
  • 1 dsp sugar
  • 50 ml. sherry vinegar
  • 100 ml. dry sherry
  • 100 ml. chicken stock

 

  1. Make sure the interiors of the mallards are clean and dry. Season each of them with salt, pepper, a slice of lemon, two cloves of garlic lightly crushed and a bay leaf. Smear half the butter over the breasts of duck and bind a sprig of rosemary on each breast. Cover with two slices of pancetta and fix with two loops of string over the breast at each end. Place the ducks breast side up on a rack in an oven tray and roast in a hot oven (220C) for 18 minutes.
  2. Halve and core the apples. Place a pinch of sugar and a knob of butter in each one and place in the hot oven for 8-10 minutes.
  3. Once the mallards are cooked, take them from their tray and remove the legs with a sharp knife. Leave the remainder to rest on the rack, breast side down. Place the legs back in the roasting tray and back in the oven for a further 10 minutes. Pick through the spinach leaves, separating and discarding the stalks. Heat a tablespoon of olive oil in a heavy casserole. Add the spinach and cook on a high flame until the spinach is wilted but still a brilliant green. Season with a little extra salt and some milled black pepper and drain. Keep warm.
  4. Peel and slice the shallots. Remove the duck legs from the pan and add the shallots and a knob of butter. Once they have coloured, sprinkle the shallots with the sugar. Stew this with a sprig of rosemary on top of the stove until the juices start to caramelise. Stir well and then pour in the sherry vinegar. Scrape up all and reduce to a syrupy glaze. Add the sherry (or white wine) and bring to a boil before adding the stock.
  5. Simmer for 10 minutes. Add the juices that have escaped from the resting mallards. Check the seasoning, whisk in a knob of butter and a squeeze of lemon juice and strain the sauce into a sauceboat.
  6. Untie the duck and take the pink breasts off the bone together with their bacon. Place the spinach and a half apple on each plate. Arrange the sliced breasts on the spinach and the leg in the apples and pour the sauce around.

 

wild mallard recipe

Local Game: Wild Mallard

Traditional Game: Partridge

The partridge is a small bird game native to the Old World. There are two species in Britain – the native grey, often called the English, and the French or red-legged, although partridge is less commonly found and used in the UK now, which is a shame as it is part of our traditional fabric.

All our game is supplied by Chanctonbury Game, which is in the heart of the South Downs.  They prepare game from different estates and are very experienced in dressing and grading the best quality wild game to very high EC food approved standards.  All the game we supply is wild – absolutely never farmed.  Therefore, supply depends on the season and availability – which is just how it should be.

 

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 Cooking partridge

Partridge has a subtle flavour, and, in case of young birds, are best served simply roasted, pan-fried or grilled. Partridge are small birds and one will generally serve only one person.

Partridge is ideal for roasting, braising or simply spatchcock and grill. As with most game, some streaky bacon ensures moist meat. Be careful not to overcook – half an hour roasting is usually fine. You can serve partridge with a light gravy from the cooking juices. Partridge is a delicious dish that mostly needs sweet, roasted autumn vegetables, or traditional game chips as an accompaniment. It pairs perfectly with robustly flavoured ingredients.

Don’t treat partridge as you would a chicken –these birds need far less time in the oven, and are best served pink and juicy. However, older birds, benefit from slower braising and stewing to make the most of their intense, rich and robust flavour. The hen is tastier and more tender than the cock, and can be recognized by spur-shaped button on its foot.

 

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Nutritional information

Partridge meat is very lean and dark, similar to pheasant but firmer and not as delicate. It is high in B vitamins and is a good source of potassium, calcium, magnesium and iron.

How to store and freeze the birds?

Fresh partridge should be stored in the coldest part of your fridge for up to 3 days. Keep in the freezer for up to 6 months and thaw in the refrigerator when ready to use.


 

We selected for you the perfect recipe for summer! A delicious Italian partridge sandwich!

Italian Partridge Sandwich

Serves 5 / Preparation: 5 minutes / Cooking: 45 minutes

Ingredients

  • 3 partridges
  • butter
  • 6 slices pancetta
  • 6-8 slices ciabatta or country slice bread
  • a little extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 clove garlic, cut in half
  • 1 tbsp fresh oregano, chopped
  • 1 round buffalo mozzarella, torn into chunks
  • 2 large vine-ripened tomatoes
  • 6 sunblush tomatoes
  • Handful basil leaves, torn
  • 1-2 tbsp Taggiasca olives
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper

 

  1. Preheat oven to 200C/400F/Gas 6
  2. Smear the partridges well with butter and wrap each one with 2 slices of pancetta.
  3. Place in a roasting tin and cover with foil.
  4. Cook in the oven for 30 minutes, then remove the foil and roast for further 10 minutes or until the juices run clear.
  5. Leave to cool slightly
  6. Drizzle a little olive oil over the bread and toast or chargrill on one side, then rub the toasted surface with the cut garlic and sprinkle over a little oregano.
  7. Slice the partridge and layer equally onto the toasted bred with the mozzarella, tomatoes, sunblush tomatoes, basil and olives.

 

 

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Traditional Game: Partridge

Raspberries and Loganberries

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A Bit About the berries… 

Also known as Rubus idaeus, the raspberry belongs to the same botanical family as the rose and the blackberry. They began to be cultivated in Europe around the 1600s and are one of our most traditional fruit and not to mention their many health benefits. They’re reputed to decrease diabetes and heart disease and it’s also suggested they can boost the metabolism.

Did you know? Raspberries come in all sorts of colours!  Raspberries can be red, purple, gold or black in colour.   However, our raspberries from Tibbs farm over in Udimore in leafy East Sussex, are the deep red Scottish variety, Glenclover.  With a delicious depth of flavour you get from the freshly picked fruit.

The loganberry on the other hand is definitely different.. It is actually a hybrid fruit, named after its creator – James Harvey Logan – these berries are a cross between a raspberry and a blackberry. The loganberry is generally slightly longer than the raspberry with a juicier and sharper flavour.

Loganberries and raspberries are both full of vitamins and and a boost to strengthen the immune system with their high vitamin C content.

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How to store raspberries and loganberries

 Remove any mouldy or mushy berries so mould doesn’t spread to others berries. Because berries are so delicate, do not wash them until right before you use them, or they can break down and quickly become mushy (this is why we don’t pick them in the rain). Then refrigerate unwashed berries, loosely covered, in a single layer, for up to 3 days.

Before using the berries, make sure to wash them properly. Do not rinse them under running water because the pressure can crush them. Instead, place the berries in a colander and dip them in a bowl of cold water. Gently swish the colander in the water, then allow the berries to drain. To dry the berries, after washing carefully spread the berries in a single layer on a tray or baking sheet lined with paper towels. Pat the berries dry with another paper towel.

If you want to freeze the berries, place them on a paper towel to remove excess water. Then neatly arrange them and place them on a baking sheet. Pop them into the freezer for a few hours, then transfer the frozen berries into freezer bags. You can freeze berries for up to 12 months.

 

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Food that pair with raspberries and loganberries

 In savoury dishes, raspberries go well with herbs and spices such as chive, mint, pepper or cinnamon. You can also try crushing the berries in salad dressing or just whole in a delicious salad of rocket, spinach leaves, smoked chicken and mozzarella.

And last but not least! Raspberries pair perfectly with chocolate!

Loganberries can be eaten the same way as raspberries. However they are more and usually need to be sweetened before eating. They can be stewed or baked, pureed or added to drinks, sauces, ice-creams and sorbet. They can also be used for jam, jelly, tarts, flans, pies, coulis and mousses. Or mix the loganberries with other fruit such as raspberries or blackberries, banana or cream to make smoothies or ice creams.


Here is a delicious recipe for a Raspberry Layer Cake that we found for you, which we are trying out this weekend, since raspberries are not around for long.

Raspberry Layer Cake

Ingredients

For the cake:

  • 200g. caster sugar
  • 200g. softened butter
  • 4 eggs, beaten
  • 200g self-raising flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • icing sugar, to decorate

For the syrup:

  • 85g. caster sugar
  • 50 ml. Almond liqueur (or use our local Walnut Liqueur)

For the filling:

  • 284ml. tub double cream
  • 250g. tub mascarpone
  • 3 tbsp caster sugar
  • 150g. punnet raspberries

Heat oven to 190c/fan 170c/gas 5. Butter 2 x 20cm sandwich tins and line each with a circle of baking parchment. In a large bowl, beat together all the cake ingredients until you have a smooth, soft mixture. Spoon the mixture equally into the two tins, smoothing over the top of each with the back of the spoon. Bake in the oven for 20 mins until golden and the cake springs back when gently pressed. Turn the cakes onto a cooling rack.

  1. Heat the sugar, 2 tbsp water and Almond liqueur together until the sugar has dissolved. Leave to cool, about 10 mins. Use a large serrated knife to cut each cake in half. Brush the syrup all over all four pieces of cake with a pastry brush.
  2. For the filling, whip the cream until it forms soft peaks. Beat the mascarpone and caster sugar in a large bowl to loosen, then fold in the cream and mix together until smooth.
  3. Spoon a third of the cream mixture over one of the cake halves. Scatter over some of the fruit (you don’t want to cover the cake), then sandwich another half on top. Spread with cream and fruit as before and top with another half of cake and more cream and berries. Lay the final cake half on top. Gently press down, then wrap tightly in cling film and leave in the fridge overnight. Before serving,  carefully remove clingfilm and dust with icing sugar to decorate.

 

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Raspberries and Loganberries

Vibrant Beef Ragout with Vitelotte Potatoes

Since the best recipes we’ve found for delicious Vitelottes have come from France(!), Morgane has translated this for you:

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Beef Ragout with Vitelotte potatoes – colourful and vibrant

Serves 4

Ingredients

  • 1kg Beef
  • 300 g. vitelotte potatoes
  • 250 g. onions
  • 10 cl. balsamic vinegar
  • 3 tbsp tomato puree plus extra if required
  • ½ litre stock
  • 3 fresh rosemary stems
  • 10 cl. marsala
  • 10 cl. red wine
  • olive oil
  • chopped parsley
  • salt and pepper

On high heat, bring a pot of water to the boil. Put the onions in for a minute to blanch them.

Then rinse them in cold water.  Peel the onions off then squeeze them.

Wash the vitelotte potatoes, peel them then slice them into chunks.

Dice the beef into regular cubes, then set aside.  Season.

Then heat 4 tbsp of oil in a frying pan.  Sautee the meat in portions and let it brown.

Remove the meat from the pan and, without wiping, put the onions and the potatoes in it, and let them brown.  Then add the balsamic vinegar, and simmer slightly.

Add 3 tbsp of tomato puree, mix and then add the meat, stock and rosemary.

Cover the ragout and let it simmer very gently for about 2 and half hours.

While the ragout is cooking, pour the marsala and the red wine in a small saucepan, and mix well. Bring to a boil over low heat, and let the sauce reduce.

Just before the ragout finishes cooking, add the marsala-red wine mix to the meat.

When ready, serve hot and sprinkle with some chopped parsley.

 


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Vibrant Beef Ragout with Vitelotte Potatoes