Ideas for rebooting your shoot lunch
Don’t just stick to traditional brown food – go with the seasons and if it’s hot on early grouse or partridge days, serve cold Pimm’s from a large ice-filled flask alongside a thai-inspired crab salad
On sunny days, pour off about 10cm of water from water bottles and put them into the freezer the night before so that you have ice cold water the next day for thirsty guns and dogs
to rev up a roast, marinade a leg or shoulder of pork in chilli, lemon, sage, garlic, red chilli flakes and olive oil for 24 hours, then roast until tender and succulent
Serve something savoury instead of a pudding on really cold shoot days, such as Welsh rarebit or angels (oysters) and devils (prunes) on horseback
Wine seems to be the default drink nowadays, but if you serve proper jugs of beer with lunch watch everyone’s eyes light up. You can, of course, have wine to hand
If you have room outside the shoot room add an outdoor fire pit or basket, it creates a really warm welcome on cold, crisp days. Pre-lunch drinks can then be served with fire-roasted cocktail sausages cooked in a marmalade glaze
Herb dumplings are perfect for pepping up a simple casserole
You can get away with serving Yorkshire pudding with almost anything
try adding different herbs to the batter
Fry onions and sage to serve with pork
chopped rosemary and parsley is perfect with a roast chicken
Use beef dripping for oldfashioned Yorkshire puddings
big bowls of walnuts and cobnuts always go down well on the table
Just for fun, and if time allows, why not have a bowl in the centre of the table with spent cartridge cases in it and a little pad of paper and a pen, so that people could write something witty then roll it up and pop into a cartridge case? We pass round the bowl during coffee and read out the bon mots – some of them are a bit fruitier than others! A bit like a shooting fortune cookie if you like...
jam roly poly or apple crumble and custard were missing from the menu. Even at the height of an Indian summer, gun’s would feel hoodwinked if denied a nursery pudding. Cold treacle tart and vanilla ice cream, rice pudding with strawberry jam or a summer pudding laced with fruit and thick double cream are perfect choices for a warm partridge or grouse day.
We’ve always called anything remotely chocolaty ‘nutty’. The Isle of Wight’s legendary shot Rosie Hancock, who was in the Navy, brought the word into our house many years ago. Nutty is naval slang for chocolate with or without nuts, and coffee without ‘nutty’ would be a disaster. Coffee is the signal that the off is imminent and, of course, depending on what the mood of the day is, port may make an appearance.
Shooting isn’t just about how high, fast and copious the birds are, it’s mostly about the amusing company and of course the delicious food you eat together.
Whatever you serve on shoot day, a little imagination goes a long way and doesn't have to cost the earth or take an age to create.