Recipe for Gamekeepers’ Poached Pheasant with Celery

Grouse shooting season has begun and today we’re talking about a game supplier that is doing some pretty amazing sausages, rolls and pies made with game… Tania O’Donnell gets stuck in.

If you’re going to make the moral decision to eat meat, eating game is far better than factory-farmed, industrially slaughtered meat. The meat itself is lower in fat and therefore also healthier for you. Grouse season has begun, but we’re here to talk to you about partridge.

Wild and Game has a range of pies, pasties and rolls as well as several pheasant and venison sausages. They also make pates and offer game meat in season as well as arranging shoots and selling wholesale game. It is a non-profit company that aims to promote game from the British countryside to the public and make it more accessible.

You can also buy pigeon breasts from Wild and Game’s site.

We got sent a hamper of Wild and Game goodies and were massively impressed. The sausages were particularly good with Pheasant and Pear (£8.80 for pack of 12) being a particular favourite. My uncle, who was always very good at bringing in game, always said that a bit of shot in your meat was lucky (perhaps making up for any cracked teeth) so that’s what I told Gary when he found a tiny bit of shot in his pasty. To be honest, to me that is reassuring that you know how your meat was killed and that it is what it says it is. You have to take care and responsibility for your eating habits when eating game. Like a tasty bony fish, I feel like we shouldn’t divorce meat from the animal we’re eating or the way in which it died for us to gain that protein. If you’re going to eat meat, don’t infantilise yourself and only eat meat vacuum-packed and deboned on a supermarket shelf.

There is no doubt that game is more expensive than your average industrially reared chicken, but eat less meat and eat better meat and your health and your finances will improve. I’d happily eat cheaper vegetables five times a week to be able to eat good seasonal game meat twice a week. Gary also said that the pheasant steak and ale pie was the best pie available to the home market that he’s ever had (not to get personal, but he has had a lot of pies).

Anyhoo, we have added the pates to our Christmas shopping list and suggest you have a rummage around Wild and Game’s site too. Here we’re giving you a recipe from its website that you could make with the frozen pheasant breasts on its site, but if you want fresh, the season doesn’t begin until 1st October.

Ingredients (serves 2 people)

1 young hen pheasant
1 head of celery
10 small shallots

For the sauce
20g butter
20g plain flour
55ml double cream
salt and pepper to season

For the stock
2 pints water
celery trimmings
thyme
peppercorns
bay leaf
1 tsp salt
pheasant trimmings
1 large onion halved
parsley
1 large carrot
2 rosemary sprigs

  1. Make the stock by adding pheasant wings and the other stock ingredients to 2 pints of water. Simmer for 30 minutes. While the stock is cooking, cut the lower part of the celery vertically (including the base) into quarters and then eighths. Wash thoroughly. When the stock has cooked down for 30 minutes, strain into a large saucepan.
  2. Season the pheasant and add to the stock. Simmer gently with the lid on for 20 minutes. Add the peeled shallots and cook for a further 15 minutes. Then add the chopped celery and cook for another 15 minutes.
  3. Remove the pheasant and transfer to a dish, adding the drained vegetables – cover and keep warm. Boil the remaining strained liquid until reduced to about 275ml.
  4. To make the sauce, melt the butter in a small saucepan add the flour and cook for 3-4 minutes. Add the stock gradually, whisking until smooth. Simmer very gently for 5 minutes. Add the cream and more salt and pepper, if needed. Serve half a hen per person with the sauce poured over the top and garnish with celery leaves or parsley.