Top tips for buying & cooking game by Richard Corrigan
The official game season famously kicks off with Glorious Twelfth on 12th August and celebrated Irish chef Richard Corrigan knows a thing or two about game. Corrigan’s Mayfair is renowned for serving some of London’s best British and Irish-sourced game and that doesn’t just mean meat – wild fish plays a big part on the menu and Richard’s wild salmon dish won him a place at the banquet to cook for The Queen in the BBC2 series The Great British Menu.
“Game was a big part of my childhood. I have been catching and cooking game since I can remember and I taught myself how to get the best flavour from it, so with Corrigan’s Mayfair, it seemed like a natural choice to make – that, and the fact that game is delicious,” says Corrigan
Game can be daunting to the home cook though so here’s Corrigan’s bluffer’s guide to game:
Apart from it being very tasty, there are so many reasons to eat game:
It’s wild! The most natural form of food straight out of the countryside.
It can be sourced locally so has a minimal impact on carbon footprint.
The wild game industry plays a crucial role in managing the game populations in the UK – without it, they would increase to unsustainable levels. It’s an essential part of maintaining our ecosystem.
It’s one of the healthiest meats available – very lean and with an optimum ratio of Omega-3 to Omega-6 fatty acids. Plus other nutrients found in game include Iron, vitamin E, Beta Carotene, Zinc, Vitamin B(6) and Selenium (which protects our cells from damage caused by free radicals).
All game is hormone free and much of it is free from antibiotics.
When to eat what
Know your seasons – there are a number of laws dictating when and where game can be hunted and it’s important, not only follow these but ensure your sources are adhering to them too. The restrictions allow the animals to breed and successfully migrate to their wintering grounds.
• 1st August – 28th February – Hare
• 12th August – 10th December – Red Grouse
• 12th August – 31st January – Common Snipe
• 1st September – 1st February – Partridge
• 1st September – 20th February – Duck and Goose
• 1st October – 31st January – Woodcock
• 1st October – 1st February – Pheasant
• All Year – Venison – There are specific times of year when male and female deer can be hunted but they are staggered so that venison is available all year round.
• All year – Wood Pigeon
• All year – White Rabbit
My favourite wild fish species to cook with are salmon and trout and when they can be fished for depends on the water source as each has a slightly different open season date.
Generally salmon is available from around mid February until end October and trout comes in around mid March until mid to end of October.
What to cook
200g button mushrooms, washed
8 shallots, peeled and chopped
2 garlic cloves, peeled and chopped
6 Savoy cabbage leaves, blanched and stalks removed
150g foie gras
½ pint veal stock
Salt and pepper
100ml olive oil
3 egg yolks
For the pastry
250g strong flour
125g back fat, minced
20ml iced water
1 tsp cracked black pepper
Remove legs and breast from the bone with the livers and heart, roast the bones and leave to one side. Seal the breast in butter, 1 minute on each side. Place on a cooling tray to rest.
Caramelise the mushrooms in a large heavy pan, then place on a chopping board and chop until fine. Place the shallots and garlic in a pan and cook until soft. Next, add the chopped mushrooms and half the Madeira and cook until dry. Leave to cool.
Chop the grouse bones and put in a pan with the mirepoix and a little oil and caramelise. Add the Madeira and cover with the stock. Cook for one hour then pass through a fine sieve into a clean pan. Next add the grouse legs and braise slowly for 1 and a half hours or until the leg meat is soft.
Take the liver and heart from the grouse and chop. Add to the mushrooms. Heat a pan and cut the foie gras in half, colour on both sides. Season and remove from the pan, any fat left in the pan should be added to the mushrooms.
To make the pastry, combine everything together and cling film the mixture. Leave in the fridge for one hour.
Using a large square of cling film, placed on a bench, put a cabbage leaf in the middle, then the mushroom mixture on top, then the grouse breast. Next, place a seasoned piece of foie gras on top of the grouse breast. Finally, add another grouse breast and a final layer of mushroom. Pull all four corners of the cling film together and tie. Leave in the fridge and repeat with the other grouse breasts.
You should have two large cabbage balls ready to cover in pastry. Remove the cling film from the cabbage. Roll out the pastry, cover with egg yolk using a pastry brush, particularly the sides. Cabbage ball in the centre, pull the pastry up and around to encase the cabbage. Remove excess pastry and place on a baking tray. Do the same with the rest of the grouse.
Reduce the braising liquid by half or add a knob of cold butter. Remove the thigh bone from the leg and warm the legs in the sauce.
Place the pies in a hot oven (230@C/gas mark 4) for 12 minutes. Remove and leave to rest on separate plates. Put a spoonful of pickled red cabbage and place a leg on top. Cut the pies in half and place one on each plate. Spoon over sauce and serve.