One thing that can really warm the heart at the end of a windy winter day of high birds and good company is the knowledge that our quarry is not dying in vain and that the raising of game is a cornerstone of responsible land management.
And a young pheasant, of course, carefully roasted, is a wonderful thing. However, what with the hanging, plucking and drawing – not to mention the daunting sinkful of washing up it entails - most of us are more likely to enjoy one every once in a while than every week.
In fact, in recent years we’ve seen a national decline in demand for game in general. Somewhere along the way we came close losing our appetite for this wild, lean and naturally delicious resource and started to export a huge amount of it to Europe.
Fortunately, we’re rediscovering our taste for it and game is no longer to be found only in keepers’ Land Rovers and Mayfair butchers. Supermarkets are making it more widely available; you can now pick up whole or jointed pheasant and mallard, partridge and pigeon breasts and even wild venison in Sainsbury’s amongst other places.
At Oliver Brown, we think this is great news, so we’ve brought together four of our favourite, wildest recipes:
• Lesley Holdship put together a colourful, fragrant and thoroughly satisfying pigeon breast salad.
• Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall combines pheasant with prunes and bacon to bring about his immaculately fruity yet wonderfully hearty flying toad in the hole.
• Sorrel Scott puts autumn on a plate with her venison steaks with a bitter-sweet cabbage and pear slaw.
• Marcus Wareing shares his one-pot wonder: pot-roast partridge with lentils and winter vegetables.