Cook­ery Elis­a­beth Luard


Good news for those of us who pre­fer our meat or­ganic, free range and lo­cal. That old po­lit­i­cal bruiser Nor­man Teb­bit’s Game Cook­ing, a best-seller in 2009, has just been reis­sued by Grub Street in time for the shoot­ing sea­son.

It’s a neat lit­tle hard­back, with ex­quis­ite mez­zotint il­lus­tra­tions of birds and beasts by en­graver Debby Ma­son – part-time scal­lop-diver and con­trib­u­tor of a hand­ful of fish recipes.

The idea for the book emerged from a con­ver­sa­tion with his lord­ship’s butcher in Hor­sham. Both agreed that the prob­lem with game is that peo­ple don’t know what to do with it – or, if they did, they’ve for­got­ten. Which has led to the ab­sur­dity of ship­ping most of our furred and feath­ered game to France and Ger­many, where they’re pre­pared to pay good money for what’s no longer avail­able from their own forests and fields.

While the erst­while Right Hon. Mem­ber for Ching­ford learned culi­nary ba­sics at his mother’s knee, he came to fam­ily cook­ing later, when his wife was wheel­chair-bound fol­low­ing the Brighton bomb. As is only to be ex­pected of an RAF vet­eran, who served as Mrs Thatcher’s wing­man and has a good few lit­er­ary en­deav­ours un­der his belt, this is a no-non­sense man­ual, de­signed to guide even a novice through the mys­ter­ies of game-cook­ing with wit and el­e­gance.

Recipes re­flect the au­thor’s trav­els. While Bri­tish roasts are not ne­glected, there’s par­tridge with pears and blue cheese, pi­geon risotto, Moroc­can veni­son tagine and (my favourite) pheas­ant bobotie with biriyani spic­ing – a Cape Malay cot­tage pie by way of John Tovey at Miller Howe, the Lake District ho­tel.

When carving a pheas­ant, don’t be in­tim­i­dated by the bird or by­standers: place it on its back on a wooden board, press firmly on the body with one hand, pull the legs away with the other, sever the joints with a sharp knife and carve the rest as you would a chicken.

There is no need to worry about lead shot as it rarely stops in the flesh and, if it does, it won’t poi­son you. And, most im­por­tant, make sure your plates are re­ally hot or no amount of boil­ing gravy will res­cue the sit­u­a­tion. For fur­ther and bet­ter par­tic­u­lars, buy the book.

Crumbed roast wild duck with or­ange A pro­tec­tive jacket of but­tery crumbs pressed round a bird for roast­ing – a tech­nique from Tu­dor times – works well with any game-bird. Ap­ples, dates and dried or fresh apri­cots are al­ter­na­tives for stuff­ing (I’d add quince). Save the duck legs for a stew, or fry with onion and herbs as an hors d’oeu­vre. Serves 4

2 or­anges 2 mal­lards, legs re­moved 140g but­ter 140g fresh white bread­crumbs 1 gar­lic clove, crushed Lots of herbs, chopped Salt and freshly ground pep­per

Pre­heat the oven to 230C/450F/GAS 8. Finely grate the zest of one or­ange and squeeze the juice. Slice the sec­ond into rounds. But­ter the in­side of the ducks with a nugget of but­ter and smear a lit­tle more round the out­side. Stuff as many rounds of or­ange as seems sen­si­ble into the cav­i­ties.

Soften the rest of the but­ter and work into the bread­crumbs with the herbs and gar­lic. Add the or­ange juice and zest, and sea­son with salt and pep­per. Plas­ter the birds with the crumb mix­ture, then put them on a rack in a roast­ing tin. Cook for 30 min­utes or so till done, but the breast should still be pink.

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