Nature's Larder: pheasant curry

The team for The Gog give the low-down on seasonal produce to seek out this month 

The British game season is well underway and with it comes a vast array of delicious warming winter meal options. Once the prerogative of country folk with a steady aim, good-quality game meat is now available far and wide. Grouse, partridge, pheasant and goose are among the most popular game birds in the UK, with shooting season running from the beginning of October until the end of January for most.

Game is leaner than many types of meat and lends itself brilliantly to slow-cooking and seasonal flavours. While farmed game is available year-round, autumn and winter is the time to indulge in fresh and tender, wild-reared meat. If you’re looking to cook a game bird, ensure you choose a good quality butcher. Prime cuts like loin or the breasts from birds are a good place to start, and joints like the haunch (leg) of venison when cooked slowly are truly amazing. 

There is no great mystery to cooking game. The only real challenge is keeping it moist – the absence of much fatty tissue means overcooking can quickly dry out the meat, though this can be prevented through techniques such as basting, covering while slow-cooking and not being afraid of a little colour in your cooked meat. Venison can be cooked in casseroles or pies, grilled, barbecued or minced for burgers or sausages – though the challenge of keeping the meat moist really comes when cooking a loin or fillet.


‘November, with its gloomy days, should be brightened up
with colourful spicy foods


The versatile nature of game meat extends beyond the type of cooking to encompass its flavour pairings, which are extensive. Venison goes really well with fruit like blackberries and plums, and even chocolate, and you can pair partridge with apricots or prunes. Use vegetables which are in season at the time like root veg, cabbage and beetroot as they just naturally go well with what you’re cooking. Use red wine in sauces for stronger meats like grouse or red deer, but use port for duck or even sweet wines like Gewürztraminer for rabbit, with a touch of grain mustard and cream.

November, with its gloomy days, should be brightened up with colourful, spicy foods that bring light and warmth while raising your spirits. Indian cuisine, full of aromas and appetizing combinations, is perfect for this time of year. Try apple chutney, a kind of spicy jam made of apples, sugar, ginger, cinnamon, chili pepper, turmeric and other spices; it is used to season cereals, potatoes, legumes and other dishes but it is delicious with vegetables fried in chickpea-batter.

Why not try a venison Wellington with wild mushrooms and root veg? Or for a different take on the traditional game recipes, our Shop & Deli Manager Lydia cooks up a mean pheasant curry. Pop into our butchery and speak to our experts about any of the delicious game in stock; they’ll wow you with ideas of how to create a showstopping meal.

The Gog, Heath Farm, Shelford Bottom, Cambridge CB22 3AD 

01223 248352 | thegog.com

HOW TO EAT IT

Pheasant Curry 

Prep 15 minutes, cook 45 minutes

Ingredients 

2in piece of fresh root ginger, peeled and chopped

4 cloves garlic

450ml water

6 tbsps oil

6 pheasant breasts, cut into 1in cubes

10 cardamom pods

2 bay leaves

1 cinnamon stick

2 large onions, finely chopped

3 x seasonal vegetables of your choice from this list: squash, sweet potato, mushrooms, cauliflower, kale or shredded cabbage

1 tsp ground coriander

2 tsps ground cumin

3 tsps mild paprika

6 tbsps natural yoghurt

Method

Blend the ginger, garlic and 4 tbsps of the water in a liquidiser to make a paste.

Heat half the oil and lightly brown the pheasant breast pieces and set them to one side.

Add the remaining oil and heat with the cardamom, bay leaves, cloves and cinnamon. Add the onions, and cook until golden brown. Now add your seasonal veg of choice.

Stir in the ginger and garlic paste and the remaining spices. Blend in the yoghurt. Then return the pheasant pieces to the pan with the remaining water.

Cover and simmer gently for 30 minutes, or until the pheasant is tender.

Season and sprinkle over the fresh coriander.