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

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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Visit us at www.finandfarm.co.uk

 

 

Local Game: Pheasant