game a very cheap ingredient, but you do need to be able to deal with the feathers etc. You’ll find loads of plucking tutorials in the internet. Oven ready birds in the butchers or supermarket will be much more expensive. Another
big plus is that game is a great “receiver” for flavour, so you can use recipes from many different parts of the world.
Asian flavours work brilliantly with pheasant, duck and venison; team with tomatoes and basil for pasta.
The list is endless. Try sprinkling pheasant breasts with lots of soft brown sugar and a generous amount of soy sauce. Bake in the oven @ 190 C for about 10-15 minutes. Serve with rice or noodles. It freezes well, although make sure it’s well wrapped to avoid freezer burn. I would suggest freezing birds completely intact in their feathers and
wrapped in newspaper.
And the negatives? Well, obviously I’m biased, but there aren’t very many negatives.
There are only two that I can think of actually. Plucking can take a little while but birds can also be skinned (see
internet!) and over-hanging can put people off. Generally, game is hung to increase flavour and to tenderise the meat a little. I think very “gamey” game is unpleasant. Ask for birds that have not been allowed to rest to long. Wood pigeons for no longer than a day, duck for 2-3 days and pheasants 3-4 days depending on the weather.
Traditionally all of these birds would have been hung for much longer. As for venison, lack for
hanging will result in tough meat so stick with it. Young deer tend to be much sweeter and I don’t mean in the “Bambi” sense!
Of all of these things, I think my enduring favourite is wood pigeon. Again, think friends not shops. You will
probably get it for free. It’s often described as the “beef of the trees”. It tastes very like beef if not cooked past medium rare. Once it hits well done, you’re heading into liver territory. That’s something that even I struggle with. Pan fry these little breasts with ginger and garlic and then remove from the pan. Add a tin of chopped tomatoes to the pan and reduce to make a sauce. Serve with green salad, sauté potatoes and the pigeon breasts. Wild
rabbit (skin and gut immediately!) is always delicious pan fried and then slowly cooked with carrots, onions and chicken stock with a tablespoon or two of Dijon mustard and cream stirred into it. Serve with boiled potatoes and lots of flat leaf parsley. The season will be over by the end of January so experiment a little and you’ll be surprised at how easy it is to cook and how accessible it is.