To celebrate the Glorious Twelfth and the start of the shooting season, one of our chefs Rocky has looked at the very seasonal produce of game.
Towards end of August beginning of September we start to see fresh, in-season game available. And two of my favourites have to be venison and pigeon.
Venison is a great substitute to beef, and can be used and cooked in many ways. Now that the deer have had most the year to graze and grow they are at the perfect size, with the perfect depth to their meat. The haunch is where you’re likely to find the best flavoured meat. And of course, the loin needs no describing.
Anyone for venison steaks? If you are cooking for yourself at home, always keep the meat pink, no more than medium as it will start to dry and lose its rich flavour. Also while cooking keep basting it, really helps to keep it succulent.
It is worth remembering that anything you can do with beef, venison can do, and sometimes better. Venison sausages for breakfast, venison burger on the barbecue the last of the sun goes…even warming cottage pie with venison mince on the colder nights. Combinations I’ve always found to work well together are dark chocolate, as it helps bring out the richness. Also berries are a good friend of venison meat and a venison steak with berry compote or slow-cooked venison with berries is divine.
Pigeon is another favourite of mine, but don’t think you can just swap it for chicken in all your dishes. Best at the start of September when they are at their plumpest, there is a high danger of overcooking pigeon and making it tough. It just needs to be lightly fried in a hot pan. Marinating in red wine (or any spirit) helps to maintain its tenderness and add a little more flavour to it.
For a little home comfort, pigeon pie is a good option and one I often make at home myself. The great thing is that all of the bird can be used, even its legs. Fruit again is a good companion for pigeon, but go for your less ‘fruity’ fruits. Apricots and apples work well as a marinade, sauce or even fried with the breast.
Alternatively, pop in to the hotel and there will be a good chance that you’ll see it on one of my menus in the WinePress restaurant: ready for you to experience something new.