I absolutely adore game, from duck to venison, to wild boar to capon, to hare to partridge. I spent my childhood holidays among Devon farmers every summer who, alongside raising and slaughtering their own sheep, cows, hens and chickens, also went hunting to provide game for local butchers. Kids growing up on farms seem to have such a better understanding of and respect for good food, the proper treatment of livestock and animals, and a greater pride in local produce.
Some of the best meals I’ve ever had were game based. A thick, almost syrupy wild boar stew in a hunter’s retreat in the Andalucian mountains near Jerez, venison sausages with sage mash at home, rabbit and cider stew in Devon.
This weekend mum bought a brace of pigeons from a good game butcher in Sevenoaks. We stewed them in the oven and ate them with bitter cranberry sauce, nutty mushrooms sautéed in butter and swede mash. Not wanting to throw the bones out, I made a rich pigeon stock with some chopped celery, carrot and onion, two tomato halves and a half tub of tomato passata as well as chopped fresh parsley. The result was a thick, rich, very meaty stock and I wasn’t sure what to do next with it.
I diced up three beetroot into small chunks and added them to the simmering pigeon broth for 30 minutes, before skimming the fat from the top of the broth, straining the broth to remove the beetroot and ending with a clear, ruby red, pungeant consommé with just a few beads of golden fat glistening on the top.
Served topped with a few chives, or some parsley and a dollop of crème fraiche and voilà!