If you are consciously looking to eat better, higher quality, healthier meat we urge you to try game. Defined as an animal or bird typically found in the wild, game meat tends to be lean, deeply flavoured and high in essential minerals and vitamins. This is largely due to the natural habitat of woodland or moorland, where they are free to forage and roam. The flavour and texture profile of a pheasant for example, is much deeper and more complex than a mass produced chicken, yet it is leaner, healthier and more sustainable.
Game is a wonderful alternative and often underused source of meat. It is the epitome of eating seasonal produce. In this blog we delve into various types of game, its availability in line with the shooting seasons, and show you just how versatile and easy it is to prepare. With some game such as Grouse having a relatively short season, now is definitely the time to get your game plan ready. Here at R&J our game is always professionally shot and hand selected, guaranteeing consistently top quality.
A few truths about game:
Shooting seasons vary for each bird or animal. The date for each season gives an indication that produce will be available at R&J within that window. However, as is the wild nature of game, actual availability will be impacted by factors out of our control such as weather conditions throughout the year, particularly during the breeding season.
Grouse. Season: from the Glorious 12th (of August) until 10th December. Favoured by chefs for its strong flavour, wild grouse live among the moorland heather and are considered to be the king of game birds. For the ultimate game season treat, cover the bird with strips of bacon and roast whole. The bacon will help the meat retain moisture and the fat will melt, enhancing the delicious flavour. Serve with the traditional accompaniments of crisp game chips (very thinly sliced, deep fried potatoes), watercress and bread sauce.
Partridge. Season: 1st September until 1st February. Tender and delicate, not too ‘gamey’ in flavour and more like a poussin. A whole Partridge is the perfect serving size for one person. Quick and easy to cook, partridge is ideal for a simple mid-week supper or impressive enough as a weekend roast served with all the trimmings.
Pheasant. Season:1st October until 1st of February. The best bird to try for those uninitiated to game and also one of the most versatile. Pheasant is a white meat with a mild flavour that is suited to so many recipes from goujons to curries, or indeed King Charles III’s favourite, Pheasant Crumble Pie. Just take a little more care when roasting whole. Cover the bird in bacon rashers or foil to avoid the breast becoming dry.
Rabbit. Available all year round. High in protein and omega 3 fatty acids, vitamin B12, calcium and potassium. Rabbit is a lean meat, perfect for slow roasting or braising in a stew. Roasting on the bone will prevent the meat from drying out and enhance the flavour.
Wild Venison. The season varies depending on the type of deer and region. As of 21st October 2023, male deer in Scotland may be taken all year round. Wild venison is free range and completely organic. High in protein and iron, low in saturated fat, low in cholesterol and free from growth hormones and antibiotics. All of our venison at R&J is wild and predominantly sourced from the Western Isles of Scotland.
The Loin Eye Steak is the prized cut. As the name suggests, taken from the loin of the animal and created through skilled de-boning, trimming and portioning of the sirloin. Best seared quickly on a hot pan for five to six minutes (browning each side) for medium rare, baste and most importantly, don’t forget to let it rest. Or for a quick mid-week supper why not try our Wild Venison Sausages or Wild Vension Burgers.
Woodpigeon. Available all year round. Woodpigeon might be one of the smallest game birds but it packs a hefty flavour punch. Like the Partridge, a whole bird is the perfect size for one. Roasted whole or spatchcocked, braised or slow cooked for fall-off-the-bone, melt in the mouth meat, the woodpigeon is a game delicacy.
Mallard. Season: 1st September until 31st January. Mallard is the largest and most commonly found wild duck. One whole bird roasted would easily feed two hungry people. Mallard pairs beautifully with fruit as the acidity of the fruit balances the sweet fattiness of the duck, hence the classics, duck a l’orange and duck with plum sauce. Alternatively try pairing with blackberries or cherries for a more contemporary take!