Category Archives: game

Rolled Guinea fowl with Moroccan stuffing

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What a weekend it has been! We (my brothers, their other halves and I) have just celebrated Christmas up in Yorkshire as we are all heading in different directions this year. Over the last couple of weeks there has been a lot of discussion over what we are going to eat. I mentioned to my brothers that I fancied trying to recreate a meal I had recently had at a school friend’s wedding breakfast (pheasant with a Moroccan stuffing).

After deliberating about how I was going to approach re-creating this dish for a Christmas feast – the suggestion I put to my brothers was Guinea fowl with a Moroccan style stuffing and dried fruits, wrapped in streaky bacon. The idea was well received until they heard that I was planning on deboning and rolling the bird which was met with much consternation. Their concerns revolved around:

  1. The fact I had never deboned a chicken let alone a Guinea fowl before.
  2. How much meat there would be left on the carcass?
  3. How long this meal would take to prepare as they wanted to eat at some point over the weekend.
  4. How many birds was I intending to do and was I sure that there would be enough to eat!?

I tried to quash their concerns by telling them that I had done a lot of research, watched a lot of YouTube videos and felt confident that I knew what to do.  In relation to timings, well we weren’t going to eat until the evening so even if deboning the Guinea fowl took an hour each we would still be able to eat around 7.30/8pm. And finally yes there would be enough to eat (I had ordered two Guinea fowl and just shy of 1kg of pork stuffing meat) I felt underfeeding was not going to be an issue.

I am pleased to report that in the end the meal was not only a success but that we had leftovers! It may have taken me roughly 45 minutes to debone each bird but it was worth it.  I couldn’t have been happier with you the meal turned and even better today we were able to enjoy some pretty yummy sandwiches for lunch before we all headed home.

The Moroccan flavoured stuffing with the dried fruits kept the guinea fowl meat wonderfully moist.  The spices were subtle and did not overpower the Guinea fowl.  The dried fruits added just enough sweetness and gave the stuffing a slightly tangy flavour and finally the pistachio added a pleasant texture.

If you don’t wish to go to the efforts of deboning a Guinea fowl then just make the meat into stuffing balls instead and cook the Guinea fowl (or chicken if you prefer to choose a slightly cheaper meat) and stuffing separately.

So the big question, would I make it again? Without a doubt! However, I would stress that this is a meal for special occasions given the time it takes to prepare but it is absolutely worth the effort!  Good luck and enjoy!

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Rolled Guinea fowl with Moroccan stuffing (serves 10)

Ingredients:

  • 2 Guinea fowl (c.1.25 kg in weight)
  • 16 slices streaky bacon
  • 900g seasoned pork stuffing meatDSC_0184 (4)
  • 3 red onions (finely diced)
  • 100g apricots (diced)
  • 100g dried cranberries
  • 175g pistachios (shelled)
  • 100g breadcrumbs
  • 1 tbsp tarragon
  • 1/2 tsp sage
  • 1 tsp black pepper
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 1 tsp ginger

Steps:

1. Place the onions in a sauté pan with a little oil, cover with a lid and sweat on a low heat until soft. (Do not rush this process as you do not want the onions to catch and burn).

2. Place the apricots, cranberries, pistachios, breadcrumbs and spices in a large glass bowl and mix together thoroughly.

3. Once the onions are soft and have cooled slightly add to the mix with the pork meat. Use your hands mix together all of the ingredients making sure that the fruit is evenly distributed throughout the stuffing. Cover with cling film and place in the fridge whilst you prepare the Guinea fowl.

4. Debone your Guinea fowl. (I would strongly encourage you watch a video demonstrating how to do this). The method I used is as follows:

  • Make sure your boning knife is very sharp and if necessary sharpen your knife before starting. Make sure that you have a clean tea towel to hand before starting.
  • Start by removing the Parsons nose.
  • Remove the wishbone, being careful not to snap it off. If you do snap it off by mistake, you’ll need to remember to remove the splinters of bone at the end.
  • Next move on to the wings, if you imagine the wing to be an arm at the ‘elbow joint’ remove the lower section of the wing so that you are left with just the top section of the wing.
  • Turning to the legs, at the knuckle carefully slice through the skin. Then holding the chicken leg in the tea towel pull the knuckle off – the reason you do it this way is so that you remove some of the sinew. If you are not strong enough don’t worry, just cut the knuckle off at the joint.
  • Next place your Guinea fowl breast side down on your chopping board. Cut straight down the centre of the back of the bird from head to tail.
  • Working on one side at a time (my preference is to do the left side first), slowly and carefully starting at the head and working down the bird cut the meat away staying as close to the bone as possible and making sure that you remove as much of the meat as possible.
  • When you get to the wings and legs cut through at the joint to enable you to continue working down the length of the carcass until you get to the bottom.
  • Repeat the process on the other side.
  • When you get to the point that the bird is only attached to the carcass by the backbone, using your finger to avoid tearing the skin run you finger between the backbone and flesh to remove the carcass.
  • Next tunnel bone your wings, pulling the bone out at the end to turn your wing inside out. The reason you do this is so that you have no holes in the skin once you have finished deboning the Guinea fowl.
  • Repeat the same process with the legs. Once the legs are inside out remove as much of the sinew as you can. Once you have completed this you will have a deboned Guinea fowl ready to stuff and roll.

Note:  Remember to use all the bones and trimmings to make stock which will form the base of your gravy.

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5. Once you have deboned both of the birds you can prepare them for cooking.  Split your prepared stuffing in two and shape into cylinders.  Then place the stuffing in the centre of the birds where the carcass would have been. (Don’t worry if you have too much stuffing to go in the middle as you can shape it in to small balls and cook as separate stuffing to serve with it).

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6. Next fold over the skin so that it overlaps slightly and then wrap the rolled guinea fowl with streaky bacon.

7. Next tie your joint with some cooking string to hold it together whilst cooking. The best knots to use are a slip knot followed by an overhand knot (aka a Butchers knot). Don’t worry if you find this too difficult just tie a knot that will hold the meat securely.

8. Place the meat in a lightly oiled roasting tray and cook at 180C Fan/ Gas mark 6 for 1hr 15mins -1hr 45 mins.  To test that your birds are ready insert a meat thermometer into the centre of the joint, if it reads over 65C they will be cooked through.

9. Once cooked remove from the oven, wrap both joints in tin foil and leave to rest for 20 minutes before carving.

10. Serve with roast potatoes, seasonal vegetables and don’t forget the gravy.

Enjoy!

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Venison wellington served with a red wine gravy

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Last November I followed the local hunt when they were shooting deer so that I could take some photographs of the day.  It was a really interesting experience that started at 8 o’clock in the morning, as all the hunters gathered at the ‘hunting lodge’ to sign in.  ‘Petit cafés’ were drunk in abundance as hunting stories and local news was shared amongst the hunters whilst they waited to hear the plan for the day.

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At 9 o’clock the chaps who were shooting set off in their little white vans and 4×4’s dressed in a combination of camouflage and high visibility jackets and hats, to position their stools (an absolutely necessity for comfort purposes when out shooting) , thermos flasks and set up their guns.  Those who were walking with the dogs stayed behind to lock up the lodge before heading out about 30 minutes later.

The dogs were split into 2 packs to work on either side of the valley.  Every time a dog picked up the scent of a deer you knew about it as the braying started and the hounds set off at speed.  A hunting horn was used to summon back the dogs as well as to announce if there had been a kill indicated by a single blow of the horn.

3BW_0422 At 12 o’clock on the dot the hunters packed up their guns and headed back to the lodge where the mornings kill was displayed and a glass of wine was handed out.  After much discussion of the morning’s success (7 deer and 1 fox) everyone headed inside to sit down on long trestle tables for a 5 course meal (soup, pâté, grilled meat and bean stew, cheese and chocolate mousse).  During the course of the lunch I found out that out of our commune of 1,400 people there are 130 registered hunters.  It also quickly became apparent that women rarely attend the hunt, resulting in much banter and joking amongst the men as they speculated as to whether this was where I hoped to find a husband

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I parted company with the hunt after lunch and left them to carry on for a further 3 hours.  When I caught up with some of them later that evening, they were in great spirits as they informed me they had had a super day having got a further 4 deer – bringing tally up to 11 deer and 1 fox.  This meant that when the deer were later skinned and butchered, each of the 30-odd hunters received roughly a side of deer at the end of the day.

As I mentioned in an earlier post about Venison Pasties, we had been given a side of roe deer before Xmas by the hunt as a thank you for allowing them to shoot on our land – as a result, over the last couple of months I have been able to cook various recipes using the venison.  Last night’s supper was without doubt in my mind the best of the lot, Venison Wellington.  I mean who doesn’t like tender meat flavoured with juniper berries picked in our forest, surrounded with mushrooms slowly cooked in cream and brandy wrapped in pastry that is packed full of butter and just flakes in your mouth….

If you can afford to buy the venison fillet then this is absolutely worth cooking!  Be patient when you make it and let everything cool completely before wrapping everything up in the pastry, if necessary prepare everything in the morning and then put it together in the evening.  Preparation is the key to making this dish!

 

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Venison Wellington (serves 6)

Ingredients:

  • 1 quantity rough puff pastry (see recipe below)
  • 500g venison fillet
  • 1/2tsp juniper berries
  • seasoning
  • 1 egg (for glazing)

For the Mushroom Duxelles:

  • 50g butter
  • 300g chestnut mushrooms (diced)
  • 4 shallots (finely diced)
  • ½tsp thyme
  • 2-3tbsp brandy
  • 2-3tbsp cream
  • seasoning

Steps:

Stage 1 – Pastry

  • Prepare your rough puff pastry according to the recipe below.

Stage 2 – Prepare the meat

  • Remove any sinew or fat from the fillet.
  • Crush the juniper berries in a pestle and mortar then scatter them over the bottom of a roasting tray along with some salt and pepper.
  • Heat a frying pan so that it is ‘smoking hot’ – sear your fillet roughly 30 seconds on each side.  Remove from the pan and place in the roasting tray and roll in the juniper berry seasoning, then cover with tin foil and leave to cool completely.

Stage 3 – Prepare the Duxelles

  • Melt the butter in the frying pan you seared the meat in.
  • Add the thyme, mushrooms and shallots, cook on a low temperature very gently until the mushrooms are soft (this can take up to 1 ½hrs).
  • Add the brandy and cook for a further 10-15 minutes .
  • Finally add the cream and cook for a final 2-3 minutes before setting to one side and allowing to cool completely.

Stage 4 – Prepare your Wellington

  • Preheat your oven to 190C fan.
  • Roll out your pastry into a large rectangle on a piece of baking paper.
  • Spoon the Duxelles into the middle of the pastry and smooth out, leaving a slight border around the edges of the pastry.
  •  Place the fillet in the centre.

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  • Brush some egg wash around the edges of the pastry, then roll over the pastry to create a cylinder shape.  Seal the ends of the pastry by pinching it together gently.

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  • Finally roll the Wellington over so that the seal is on the bottom, score the top of the Wellington using the back of a knife, then brush with egg wash.
  • Bake in the oven for 30 minutes then allow to rest for 5 minutes before serving.

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Rough Puff Pastry

Ingredients:

  • 250g butter (cut into small cubes)
  • 250g plain flour
  • 100-150ml chilled water
  • 1tsp salt

Steps:

1.  Place the flour, salt and butter in bowl and roughly ‘crumb together’ using your fingers.

2.  Add some of the water and bring the mixture together, adding more water if it is needed.

3.  Wrap the pastry in cling film and chill for 20 minutes.

4.  Once chilled remove from the fridge and roll out into a rectangular shape.  Imagine that the rectangle is divided into thirds and fold, one side in to the middle and then fold the other side into the middle.  Turn it 90 degrees and then roll out and repeat again before wrapping up in cling film and chilling for 20 minutes.

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5.  Once chilled repeat step 4 again, chill for a final 20 minutes before rolling out for use.

[Note:  the quantities about makes about 600g of pastry.  The pastry can be stored in the fridge for 2-3 days before using.]

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Red Wine Gravy

Ingredients:

  • 1 glass red wine
  • 2 tbsp brandy
  • ½ tsp allspice berries
  • 4 juniper berries
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 150ml beef stock
  • 1 heaped tsp cornflour (make into a paste using a little water)

Steps:

  1. Place the wine, brandy, allspice, juniper berries and bay leaf into a small saucepan and heat until it has reduced by half.
  2. Add the beef stock and heat for around 5 minutes.
  3. Finally add the cornflour and heat until the gravy has thickened.  Serve immediately.

 

Roast haunch of wild boar in a mustard crust with celeriac and potato mash

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We live in a region where wild boars are fairly common.  During the winter months our local hunt go after the boar in order to keep their numbers under control and to prevent them doing considerable damage to the farmers’ crops.  The French are very strict when it comes to shooting boar and they impose some hefty fines if for example the matriarch is killed.  The reason for this is that it can result in a ‘population explosion’ creating an even bigger problem in the surrounding area as the family splits and new matriarchs are created.

Up until last year I had never seen a boar in our region and then in fairly quick succession I came across three.  The first was a boar the size of an Alsatian that I ‘bumped’ into walking the dogs.  Fortunately for me I didn’t have to climb a tree as the boar turned and ran off as soon as it saw us and our dogs do not have the quickest of reactions so there was no risk of them coming to any harm!  The second was a young boar that ‘Biggles’ our springer spaniel put up in the woods.  The last was probably the most special as I came across him twice within 24 hours.  The first time, he confidently walked up to the small orchard one side of our house (not batting an eye at our neighbours dogs that were working themselves into a frenzy barking at him across the fields) to eat windfall plums under the trees (unfortunately I was not prepared to get too close to him to take a photo and my long lens was just not good enough…).  However, it seemed this guy wanted his picture taken and the following morning, when driving home from the village, I came across him rootling in a neighbouring field.  He was so engrossed in eating that I was able to go home, get my camera and take pictures from the safety of the car about 4-5 metres away.

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It isn’t every day that you have the opportunity to cook with wild boar, however, a few weeks ago a friend dropped by and gave us a large haunch.  Having never cooked with boar before I sought the advice of one of our neighbours, who informed me that it is best cooked coated in mustard at about 190C for an hour.  I decided to adopt the idea of the mustard coating, however, was somewhat concerned about the cooking times as the French are notorious for enjoying their meat cooked fairly rare.  Consequently I decided to cook the joint in a similar way to how I cook a leg of lamb and I was very pleased with the outcome.  I served it with potato and celeriac mash, which went well with the strong ‘gamey’ taste of the boar.

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Roast haunch of wild boar in a mustard crust (serves 6-8 people)

Ingredients:

  • 1 haunch of wild boar (1.5 – 2kg)DSC_0318
  • 4-5 carrots (halved lengthways)
  • 1 potato (cut into chunks)
  • 1 onion (halved)
  • 2 heaped tbsp Dijon mustard
  • 1 heaped tbsp wholegrain mustard)
  • 150ml water

Steps:

1.  Place the carrots, potato and onion on the base of a large roasting tray to form a ‘bed’ on which to place the wild boar.

2.  Mix together the wholegrain mustard and Dijon mustard together in a bowl.

3.  Cover the wild boar completely with the mustard mix and then place on top of the vegetables.

4.  Add the water to the pan, then roast in the oven at 220C fan for 20 minutes, before covering with tin foil and cooking at 170C fan for a further 90-120 minutes depending on how well cooked you like your meat.

5.  Make sure you rest your meat in a warm place covered in tin foil for 15-30 minutes whilst you make your gravy.  Do this by heating the juices in the bottom of the pan with some stock or vegetable water and adding little cornflour to thicken it (if needed add some honey or redcurrant jelly to lift the flavours a little).

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Celeriac and potato mash

Ingredients: (Serves 4)

  • 6-8 medium potatoes (peeled, cut into quarters)
  • 1/3 of a celeriac (roughly 200g in weight peeled, cut into chunks)
  • knob of butter
  • 5-6tbsp milk
  • seasoning

Steps:

  • Place the potatoes and celeriac in a saucepan with some salt, cover with water and bring to the boil. Leave to simmer until a knife passes through both the potatoes and celeriac easily.
  • Once they are cooked, drain them and return them to the saucepan.
  • Add the milk, butter and seasoning then using a potato masher, mash the vegetables until they are smooth.  Serve.

Duck in a rich red wine sauce

After a snowy weekend the rain has well and truly arrived and how!  Hetti (the now somewhat longer Dachshund puppy) does not like the weather much.  From day one, she established that she could retreat indoors via the cat flap whenever it suited her, much to the bemusement of the cat and the other dogs.   On the occasions that she feels that she is missing out on something exciting outside, she merely peers half in/half out of the cat flap to assess whether it is worth getting her paws wet…

Due to the cold and wet weather we have been ‘hibernating’, taking refuge close to the wood burner and/or Rayburn.  Consequently, there has been time to ‘play’ in the kitchen and cook things that take a little bit longer.  This is a new recipe that I came up with before Christmas.  I think what makes this dish is the sauce that is made from the juices that the duck is cooked in.  The sauce has a lovely deep flavour which is lifted by a little redcurrant jelly that complements the duck nicely.  I tend to serve the duck with either mashed potato or chips so that you can really soak up the juices.

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Duck in a rich red wine sauce (serves 4)

Ingredients

  • 1 duck (roughly 1.5kg in weight, with giblets)
  • 2 glasses of red wine
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  • ½ glass water
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 small bunch of thyme
  • 1 tsp juniper berries
  • 2 celery sticks, cut into chunks (optional)
  • seasoning
  • 150ml duck stock (see guidelines to making a stock below)
  • 2-3tbsp redcurrant jelly
  • 2tsp corn flour (mixed in a little water to form a paste)

Steps:

1.  Prepare your duck by removing the wings and the giblets.  (Use the wings and giblets to make a stock following the guidelines below).

2.  Place the duck in a large casserole pan along with the wine, water, bay leaves, thyme, juniper berries and celery.  Season well and then place in a preheat oven at 170C fan for 1 hour.

3.  After an hour, remove the duck from the casserole dish, cover with tin foil and allow to rest in warm place for 15 minutes whilst you make the sauce.

4.  Pass the juices from the casserole dish through a sieve to remove the celery and any other bits and pieces; then place in a saucepan on a high heat.

5.  Add the duck stock and the redcurrant jelly and bring to the boil.

6.  After about 5 minutes add the corn flour paste, stirring continuously so that you have a smooth sauce, taste and add more stock or redcurrant jelly as required.  Serve.

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Guidelines to making a basic stock

It is incredibly simple to make any meat stock for use in a soup, risotto, pie, gravy etc. Stocks can be frozen so are worth making even if you can’t use them straightway.  So, make sure you save the bones after a roast.

There is no right or wrong way for making a good stock. Below are merely the guidelines on how to make a basic stock which you can vary according to what vegetables you have lying around.

Ingredients

  • Bones and any scraps of meat left over (if making the stock after a roast) or giblets and wings (from a duck, chicken, turkey etc.)
  • 2 carrots (peeled and cut into 1” pieces)
  • 1 onion (cut in half)
  • 1 celery stick (cut into 1” pieces)
  • 2 bay leaves
  • small bunch of thyme
  • seasoning
  • water (enough to cover the bones)

Steps:

1. Place all of the ingredients in a large saucepan, add enough water so that the bones are covered then cover with a lid.

2.  Cook the stock on a medium heat for at least an hour but preferably 2+hours in order for your stock to have a lovely deep flavour before passing it through a sieve to remove any bits before using.  (Allow to cool completely if you are freezing the stock).

Venison and Black Sheep Ale

I made this meal a couple of weeks ago using some of venison that we were given by the local hunt.  When I was last in England I brought back a selection of ciders and ales that I had wanted to try cooking with in various meals and venison cooked slowly in ale was one of the things I had wanted to try.

The venison became beautifully tender and the ale gave the dish a slightly sweet taste.  The one mistake I made when I cooked this dish was that I cut the pieces of potato and Jerusalem artichokes too small, so they broke up during cooking process – in future I will leave the artichokes whole and cut the potatoes into much larger pieces.

 

Venison and Black Sheep Ale

Ingredients:

  • 700g venison (cut into bite sized chunks)
  • 500ml Black Sheep Ale (or equivalent)
  • 3-4 carrots (peeled and cut into chunks)
  • 2 medium potatoes (peeled and cut into large chunks)
  • 8 small Jerusalem artichokes
  • 3-4 baby onions (quartered)
  • 4-5 shallots
  • 6-7 garlic cloves
  • handful of flour
  • beef stock cube
  • sprig of thyme
  • 2oz butter
  • 1tbsp sugar
  • Seasoning
  • 1-2tbsp redcurrant jelly (as needed)

Steps:

1.  Place the sugar, butter, thyme, onions, shallots and garlic in a casserole dish – cook on a low heat for 10-15 minutes.

2.  Flour and season the venison, then add to the casserole dish cook for 3-5 minutes on a high heat.

   

3. Add all the other ingredients, except the redcurrant jelly to the casserole dish, stir well and add a little water if necessary to ensure that the meat and vegetables are covered.

4.  Place in the oven and cook at 160C fan for 2-2½hours.

5.  Once cooked remove from the oven, taste and add a little redcurrant jelly as needed.  Enjoy with vegetables of your choice!

Roast Duck with Plum Stuffing

My brother rang me yesterday to tell me that he had shot a duck and was wondering what he should do with it. Fortunately I had cooked a duck a couple of weeks ago so I was able to talk him through what I did with it.  I love having stuffing with a roast and found that this plum stuffing worked particularly well with the duck and it helped to keep the bird moist as it was cooking.

My parents keep Muscovy ducks, for several reasons; firstly they make great parents often rearing clutches of 15-18 ducklings. Secondly, they are fairly attractive ducks, so are fun to have wondering around the place and thirdly, they keep our peacocks in their place….

Earlier this autumn this year’s ducklings were ‘harvested’ and put in the freezer for eating over the winter months.   It is always possible to tell which of the ducklings are female because they are a different shape and tend to have smaller thighs than the males.  Our ducks have a gamey taste, as they are left to wander around the fields and woods from day one and are harvested later than commercial ones.  As a result we prefer to eat our ducks well done, as opposed to the French way, where the meat is cooked rare and can be quite bloody.  If you have any fat in the roasting dish after cooking make sure you drain it off into a little pot so that you can use it to make your roast potatoes with next time.

 

Roast Duck with Plum Stuffing

Ingredients: (Serves 3-4)

  • 1 duck weighing roughly 1.25 – 1.5kg (with liver and heart if possible)
  • 200g breadcrumbs
  • 8 plums (de-stoned)
  • handful of lardons
  • 1 onion (diced)
  • 2 garlic cloves (chopped)
  • 1tsp thyme
  • seasoning

Steps:

1.  Preheat oven to 190C fan.

2.  Make your stuffing by placing the duck’s liver, heart, breadcrumbs, plums,  lardons, onion, garlic, thyme and seasoning into a food processor and blitzing until all the ingredients are combined.  

   

3.  Stuff the duck’s cavity with the plum stuffing, packing it in as best as possible.

4.  Dry the top of the duck with paper towel before seasoning well.

5.  Place the duck in the oven and cook for 1¼ – 1 ½ hours, to test if the duck is done, see if the juices run clear when you place a knife in the thigh of the of the duck.

6.  Remove the duck from the oven, cover with tin foil and allow to rest for 10 – 15 minutes.

7.  Use a spoon to remove the stuffing before carving and place in a bowl to be served with the duck.

(Note:  I always make stock with the carcass.  You can do this by placing the carcass and any juices in a saucepan with an onion, celery stick, 2 carrots, dried mixed herbs and then covering it will water.  Cook on a medium heat for a couple of hours.  Then use to make soup later in the week.)

 

   

Venison pasty

This weekend a member of the hunt came over bearing a side of roe deer as a thank you for allowing them to shoot on our land; so on Monday it needed to be butchered into manageable pieces.  After about an hour and a lot of knife sharpening I had a huge leg, a long slab of fillet, a kidney and about 2 ½ kilos of stewing meat packed away in freezer bags.  You might be wondering where the shoulder went – as the deer was shot just behind the foreleg it meant there were bits of bone fragment and shot around the shoulder.  Consequently, it was easier to clean and remove the bits of bone fragment from the shoulder by cutting it into stewing meat.

In France they do not tend to hang meat (in general) for very long – in this instance the deer had not been hung at all!   Therefore I was interested to see how it would affect the tenderness of the meat given that I was not going to be slow cooking it before putting it in the pastry.  I was pleasantly surprised to find that the deer was not at all tough.  What I must stress however, is that it is incredibly important to try and remove as much of the sinew, veins and membrane as you can before you cook the meat.  This can be very time consuming, but it is worthwhile as it stops the meat becoming chewy or tough.

I decided to make some pasties using a little of the stewing meat and the kidney.  Last year I did a sailing course in Falmouth and it was there I discovered how comforting a good pasty can be – particularly after you had spent the entire day getting cold and wet on a boat.  The thing that I noticed when I had tried them was the importance of good seasoning, as it can make or break a pasty, so don’t be shy about using a healthy amount of salt and pepper.  The recipe below would work well with beef or chicken if you can’t get your hands on some venison.  If you fancy making it completely vegetarian just add some other vegetables in the place of the meat, for example carrots, spinach, butternut squash, Jerusalem artichokes, etc..

 

 

Venison Pasty

Ingredients: (makes 3 large pasties)

For the pastry:

  • 8oz plain flour
  • 2oz chilled butter
  • 2oz chilled hard margarine
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ½ tsp pepper
  • 3-4 tbsp water (to bind)
  • 1 beaten egg (for glazing)

For the filling:

  • 400g venison (any sinew and membrane removed and chopped into chunks)
  • 1 kidney (de-veined and chopped into chunks)
  • 1 medium potato (peeled and diced)
  • 1 onion (diced)
  • 2 baby turnips (peeled and diced)
  • 2-3tbsp red wine
  • sprinkling thyme
  • seasoning

Steps:

1. Firstly make the pastry – place the dry ingredients in a bowl.  Cut the butter and margarine into cubes, add to the dry mix.

2. Using your fingers crumb together the mixture (don’t worry if you have a few small bits of butter that haven’t broken down).

3. Then add the water (a little bit at a time) until the pastry comes together and you can make a ball.  Wrap the pastry in some cling-film and put in the fridge for at least 30 minutes.

4. Whilst the pastry is chilling prepare you’re your filling, by mixing all of the ingredients together in a bowl, cover with cling film and set to one side until you are ready to use it.

   

5.Once the pastry has been chilled, remove from the fridge cut into 3 equal sized pieces. Roll out each ball on a floured surface to your preferred thickness, then using a bowl/plate as a template cut out a circle roughly 20cm in diameter.

6. Divide the filling equally between each of the pastry circles.  

   

7. Using a pastry brush, gently brush some of the beaten egg around the edge of the pastry to help it seal when you fold it over into a “D” shape.

8. Seal the pastry together first using your fingers and then take a fork and gently press down on the edges to form a crimped edge.

9. Finally, place the pasties on an oven tray that you have lined with greaseproof paper, brush the outside of the pasties with some of the egg wash and using a knife pierce the top of the pasties twice (this will allow the steam to escape whilst it is cooking).

10. Place the pasties in an oven that you have preheated to 190C fan for 40-45 minutes. Serve.