I may be one of the few, but I can’t say I am left particularly inspired by the smells, colours or freshness of the food I see when I stroll (rather effortlessly I must admit) into the infamous Sainsbury’s, Hyde Park or handy One-Stop. If I decide to stretch my legs a little further and plod on down to Makkah Foods or the International Supermarket, immediately prices go down, the colours of fruit and vegetables amplify and choice is plentiful. However, when it comes to buying meat I may as well have stuck to the popular Sainsbury’s as there is nothing more exciting than pork chops and chicken. Again, I may be one of the few who dares take the time to visit the traditional Leeds Kirkgate Market in town. This is an adventure which I only wish more students explored so that they too could be in awe of its outstanding display of fresh fish, butcher’s meat, free-range eggs and quality cheeses – a treat surely for everyone’s eyes and hopefully their mouths too. Sadly though, even in this impressive maze of fresh, local produce one delicacy is missing…Game.
The New Year ought to hold a new taste-experience for everyone and this is the perfect rarity which I urge you to try if you haven’t already done so. Take yourself down to the Sunday Leeds Farmer’s Market, Briggate and go get yourself a proud pheasant, partridge or pigeon. I warn you not to be put off by the fact they sit fully feathered and bird-like; the kind man behind the stall will happily do the honours of de-dressing them for you if you ask politely. I am sure you are now wondering why on earth I think you would want to eat a so-called ‘sky-rat’ but these wild wood pigeons are not only utterly delicious (trust me, my reluctant and food-fussy friends were left pleasantly surprised) but they cost just £1. Pheasants and partridges too come in at only £2.50 a bird, so why not swap your roast chicken for something more exotic – save money and discover a new tasty meat. Alternatively, push your boundaries further and try one of these wonderfully easy recipes. I can only bet that after you’ve enjoyed every last mouthful you will be left curious as to how rabbit and grouse taste too…but I will leave that for another day.
Warm Pigeon Breast Salad with Redcurrant Jelly
(either ask at the market for the breasts to be taken off, or take a knife yourself and cut down against the chest bone until you have filleted each breast off)
2 Pigeon Breasts
Rocket and Mixed Leaves
Salt and Pepper
- Season the breasts with salt, pepper, some oil and a splash of soy. Fry in a pan for 3 minutes on one side.
- Add the redcurrant jelly and fry for a further 3 minutes on the other side until the meat is still pinkish inside. They really do not need longer than this or the meat will toughen.
- Cut into thin strips and add to a rocket and mixed leaf salad with a dressing of your choice.
1 Large Pheasant
100g Bacon, snipped
300ml Red Wine
300ml Chicken Stock
2 tbsp Redcurrant Jelly
1 tbsp Worcester Sauce
1 tsp Dry Mixed Herbs
1 Bay Leaf
1 tbsp Cumin
2 tbsp Sunflower Oil
6 Mushrooms, chopped
3 Carrots, chopped
1 Onion, chopped
Salt and Pepper
- Heat the oil and butter in a large casserole pan, add the pheasant and fry quickly until browned on both sides. Lift out of plate, allowing juices to drip and put in a dish to one side.
- Add the cumin and dry mixed herbs to the casserole pan and fry the bacon for about 3 minutes. Remove the bacon and add to the pheasant dish (leaving the juices).
- Sir the flour into the remaining fat and cook until dissolved.
- Slowly add the wine and the stock, stirring often to thicken the sauce. Season.
- Once thick, add the remaining ingredients along with the pheasant and bacon. Cover with a lid and bring back to boil.
- Transfer to the oven and leave simmering for 50mins-1hour at 180°C until the pheasant is wonderfully tender.
- Lift out the pheasant and take the meat off the bone, returning the meat to the sauce. Season to taste and serve with creamy mashed potato and peas.
Words and Images: Tash Straker