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Game Back On The Menu

Posted Aug 04 2009 6:04pm

For years gone by game has been the select cuisine of those from distinguished (read, rich) backgrounds – the upper classes, the aristocracy and the royals. However, over time the meat has slowly muscled its way into more humbler abodes – pubs and even supermarkets so that we may dabble with cooking it ourselves.

Now Norman Tebbit – the ex-politician turned cordon bleu chef has turned his attention to game, writing a beginners guide on how best to select and cook it.

The man with the plan had the intention of getting people to learn how to properly cook pheasant rather than “rubber-boned, tasteless chicken”. He is determined to make the average home cook realise that anyone can tackle game with a little background information .”People are scared. They think game is difficult and it’s not really. Anything you would have done with a chicken you can do with pheasant, although if you roast it you might need to stuff it with something like a haggis because it’s rather dry. Take venison, how is it different from beef, except it’s leaner meat?”

And why not dabble with it at home when big pub names like Youngs, Greene King and Spirit are swapping ordinary beef burgers for the slightly fancier venison versions. But its not just about eating out – with many large supermarkets now rolling out whole pheasants and partridges on to their shelf, there’s no excuse to not have a go at home.

The popularity of game is growing fast, as there was a 200 per cent increase on the demand for the meat at Sainsbury’s last year, which is the biggest game retailer in Britain – something they want to build on even more this year.

Ben Weatherall, who runs £4m-a-year wholesaler Yorkshire Game, remarked that venison, which is the most popular game meat, sells so well because it’s, “seasonal, regional, traceable and free-range” and ticks all the “green and gastronomic” boxes. He added that the Brits still have some catching up to do with our European counterparts like Germany, France and Netherlands who are all big game eaters.

Figures from the previous year, show that the game market was worth £69m, up by a fifth on 2006, according to figures from the market research firm Mintel.

Lord Tebbit, who was taught how to skin a rabbit at an early age from his mother – a butcher’s daughter – claimed he wasn’t attempting to turn himself into a self-styled celebrity chef, “I don’t swear enough,” he said, adding, “I’m not trying to rival Sophie Grigson or the Blessed Delia.”


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