How to Cook Game

If game is to be tender it must be young. Age is easily determined when the game is fully feathered or furred which is one good reason for buying it this way. Generally speaking, look for plumpness, pale coloured feet and soft, downy plumage in birds, and soft pliable ears in rabbits and hares. Venison is sold in joints so you will have to rely on your butcher.

Game birds must be hanged to increase their flavour and promote tenderness. This is not easy for everyone and, if you order your game well in advance, a butcher will do it for you. Rabbits do not need hanging but hares do, and the preparation of both — skinning, paunching, catching the blood — is messy and more easily dealt with by a butcher. If a bird has not been drawn this must be done, except with quail.

  • Grouse Roast at 200°C (400°F) Gas Mark 6 for about 40 minutes. Bard well and stuff or put butter in the body cavity. Serves one to two.
  • Partridge Cook as grouse. Older birds should be braised or casseroled.
  • Pheasant Roast at 220°C (425°F) Gas Mark 7 at 20 minutes per 450 g (1 lb). Pigeon Roast for 15-20 minutes at 220°C (425°F) Gas Mark 7. Young birds may be jointed and grilled, older birds casseroled.

Quail

Sold oven ready but undrawn. One bird serves one person. Roast at 200°C (400°F) Gas Mark 6 for 15 minutes. Can also be grilled. Wild duck Three varieties are common in the UK, teal, mallard and widgeon. They will normally serve one to two people. Bard and roast at 220°C (425°F) Gas mark 7 for 20-30 minutes.

Hare

Bard and roast at 180°C (350°F) Gas Mark 4 for about 2 hours. Braise or casserole older animals having first marinated them in red wine. Rabbit Roast as for hare, grill joints and casserole or braise older animals. Marinate in herbed and spiced oil and wine before cooking.

Venison

Roast, braise or grill the loin and haunch, first marinating as for hare. Roast at 190°C (375°F) Gas Mark 5 for 35 minutes per 450 g (1 lb), keeping the joint moist. Braise for 2½-3 hours.

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