Glorious Game

Buying fruit and vegetables during their natural season typically rewards you with the best flavour and quality, with natural light serving to sweeten and aid the growth of the pant. Forced rhubarb is the exception, with it’s pink, tender stems, an altogether sweeter prospect than the tough, outdoor reared variety available from April.

As a boy, growing up on a farm in Scotland, there was lots of it hanging about in the autumn and winter months. The birds, mainly pheasant, partridge and a few wood pigeon would be decked across the eaves of the potting shed, summoning up a gamey whiff before being plucked.

I didn't really shoot. I tried a few times with my friend who had a shotgun.
But I preferred to listen out for the crackle of the field fares descending on the hedgerows than exploding gunpowder. Not that I had a problem killing birds to eat. But as boys we deployed a far more subtle form of slaughter.
We'd make our way with stealth up to the fir tree plantation just as the sun was going down. And using a catapult and ball bearings we'd knock the pheasant stone cold out of the lower branches where they'd be roosting for the night. I'm ashamed to say I was an instinctive poacher and quickly developed a clandestine arrangement with the local game dealer.

These days a brace of Suffolk pheasant or Wild Mallard from Ben Rigby Game in Essex have to suffice to create that ambiance. And though you don't need to go to extremes most game birds do benefit from hanging around for a bit. It softens the flesh. But sadly, most are no longer actually 'hung' so my mother recommends leaving them in the back of the fridge for a week where, they acquire a nicely intensified gaminess.

When you are ready to cook them, rub the skins with salt and let them air for a while. I grate orange zest and crush red peppercorns over them before covering them in streaky bacon. This helps to keep the birds moist while they roast (roughly 220 first 20mins and 180 the rest). You can remove the bacon in the last 10 minutes to let the skin brown.

All sorts of different seasonal root vegetables go well with game. Have your pheasant with very thinly sliced celeriac chips, fried in oil until crisp, roasted parsnips with cumin seeds and honey and pureed pumpkin with butter.
To keep your palate clean, try shredded kale, stir fried quickly in sesame oil with a dressing made from the leftover orange juice, red wine vinegar and clarified butter.

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Fri 15 - Mon 18 February


⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐! I will be very happy to recommend The Farm Direct team. Such good value, reliable and consistently great service. We always enjoyed getting fresh fruit, vegetables and good quality meat delivered on a Saturday morning. It really made our weekend and my family loved all the produce we bought. 

Aby, N11

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