AT our local farmers’ markets in Petersfield and Winchester, you can buy four oven-ready partridge or pheasant for just £10. They may become cheaper, I’m told, as the season progresses. How times have changed. Once, pheasant was treated as a supreme gift— my great friend at school used to turn up after half term with a brace for our housemaster, but now they are almost given away. Indeed, many shoots do just that to the game dealers.
Game is a truly prized dish on the Continent, but, although it’s cheap, it has become unfashionable to the wider population, despite its low fat content and free-range credentials. Where there has been some success is thanks to chefs developing recipes for the modern taste, such as curried pheasant or Kentucky fried partridge breast. The wellhung, roasted pheasant, although a favourite of mine, is no longer the way to serve it to the younger generation.
Shooting plays such an important role in the conservation of the countryside that it is imperative that we find exciting and delicious ways of cooking all that we shoot. I would love to see game on New Year’s Eve becoming as traditional as a turkey on Christmas Day. MH