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Courier Life Food

Game hunting with James Lowe

Each year, James Lowe, founder of Lyle’s in Shoreditch, takes a group of chefs out into the Scottish wilderness, to see just what Britain has to offer during game season.

24 Nov 2016

British food has a pretty bad reputation abroad and it really shouldn’t. We have an incredibly strong seasonality in this country; the variety of food throughout the year is really exciting. Game season runs from August until February, and I find it one of the most rewarding seasons to be a chef.

While game is not unique to the UK, the quantity of it and the ability to serve it in restaurants is unusual. Each game bird has its own limited season; as one is finishing, another comes winging its way on to the menu.

Every year I bring together a number of chefs from overseas so they can see game in the wild, and get to taste and cook with it. Seeing these chefs working with our ingredients for the first time, using their various cultural references, is fascinating.

The flavours are generally incomparable to other meats, and there are very few animals that you can cook and eat whole like game birds. They are one of my favourite things to cook, because you can use just one pan and a stove top from start to finish, moving, rolling and feeling the bird. It’s a very old-school skill and a wonderfully tactile process.

In December, one of the most versatile birds is pheasant. It’s often cooked incredibly badly, which is why it doesn’t have the recognition it deserves. Make sure you buy hen pheasants as they tend to be more plump and have a better fat content. First, remove the legs and braise them with sweet onions and bacon; it will create the best stock you’ve ever had. Brown the birds all over in a pan and then place in a 100°C oven until they reach 59°C. They will be a perfect dinner with some Brussels tops.

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Photos by Anton Rodriguez. This story is taken from Courier Dec 2016/Jan 2017.