2 recipes to celebrate Christmas and Great British Game Week

PUBLISHED: 11:22 10 November 2016 | UPDATED: 11:22 10 November 2016

Chuck a partirdge on the barbie!

Chuck a partirdge on the barbie!


Celebrate Christmas and Great British Game Week (November 21 - November 27) with these delicious recipes and take your taste buds for a walk on the wild side

A cockle warming rabbit dishA cockle warming rabbit dish

Rabbit with mustard, leeks, rosemary & cream from Gill Meller

I once worked in a pub called The Fox. It was the most quintessential of village pubs, with worn flagstone floors, big log fires, low ceilings and good beer. My friend George was the head chef there, and after Sunday’s service, we would sit in the bar and talk for hours about food and cooking. He showed me a very simple rabbit dish, cooked in local cider and double cream; it was wonderfully rich. This is my version.

Ingredients (Serves 2)

• 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil

• 1 wild rabbit, jointed

• 100g plain flour, seasoned with salt and pepper

• 6 rosemary sprigs

• 3 thyme sprigs

• 2 bay leaves

2 knobs of butter

• 2 large leeks, trimmed halved and sliced thinly

• 300ml cider

• 300ml double cream

• 2–3 teaspoons Dijon mustard

• 1 tablespoon chopped flat-leaf parsley

• Salt and freshly ground black pepper


1 Heat the oil in a large frying pan over medium–high heat. Toss the rabbit lightly in the seasoned flour, then add it to the pan, with the sprigs of rosemary and thyme and the bay. Fry for 8–10 minutes, or until the meat is golden brown on all sides and smelling delicious. Remove from the heat and set aside.

2 Melt the butter in a separate large, heavy-based pan over a medium heat. When it’s bubbling add the leeks. Sweat them gently for 10–12 minutes, until they are soft and silky. Add the rabbit and all its pan juices and herbs, then add the cider and cream. Bring everything up to a simmer and cook, uncovered, for 1½–2 hours, or until the meat is very tender. Season with salt and pepper, then stir in the mustard. Finish with a generous sprinkling of parsley and take to the table straight away. Serve with mashed or sautéed potatoes.

Barbecued Partridge in Yoghurt, Fenugreek & Black Pepper from Gill Meller

Who’s to say we can’t cook outside over hot coals in the winter sunshine? This recipe is a hopeful ode to a fine late¬autumn and winter – or at the very least, a dryish one. The birds are spatchcocked, then spiced, then cooked cut¬side down, which helps to keep the breast lovely and moist.

Ingredients (Serves 2)

¼ piece of 1 cinnamon stick

2 teaspoons fenugreek seeds

2 or 3 cardamom pods, seeds removed

1 teaspoon dried chilli flakes

2 teaspoons black peppercorns

2 tablespoons plain natural yoghurt, plus extra to serve (optional)

1 teaspoon fine sea salt

1 teaspoon turmeric

2 garlic cloves, peeled and grated

2 oven-ready partridges


1 Dry fry the cinnamon piece, fenugreek and cardamom seeds, chilli flakes and peppercorns in a small frying pan over a low heat for 3–4 minutes, until they are warm and aromatic. Tip the spices into a mill or a pestle and mortar and grind to a fairly fine texture. Place the spice mix in a small bowl and add the yoghurt, salt, turmeric and grated garlic. Mix well to combine and set aside.

2 Position one partridge breast-side down on a board. Using a pair of kitchen scissors, cut down each side of the backbone and remove the bone. Discard, or freeze it for your next stock. Repeat for the other bird. Using the flat of your hand, press down hard on the birds to open them out. Don’t worry if you get tearing around the leg. Rub the birds all over with the spiced yoghurt, cover, and leave to marinate in the fridge for 6–8 hours or overnight.

3 Light the barbecue and allow the charcoal to burn down to a nice even, high heat (it’s ready when you can hover your hand over the grill for only 1–2 seconds). Pass a couple of wooden kebab sticks through each bird, then place them, cut-side down on the warmed grill, and cook for 15–20 minutes, until the underside is looking coloured and crispy in places. Using the kebab sticks, flip the birds over to cook for a further 8–10 minutes, until the breast side is also golden. (You can cook them using the same technique on a medium-hot chargrilling pan, if you prefer.) Remove the birds from the direct heat, resting them at the edge of the grill for 5–10 minutes. Serve the birds whole with a tomato, onion and coriander salad. More yoghurt and some flat breads wouldn’t hurt either!


Are you ready for Christmas?

What will be the centrepiece of your table on Christmas Day? This is the month to get your meats ordered up in plenty of time so you have what you want for the big day

GOOSE: This was the original Christmas bird before the turkey arrived from America in the 16th century. Steve Titman, Executive Chef at Summer Lodge says: “Go for a goose that is slightly larger than you think you may need as the breasts are quite shallow. Look for a bird with nice dry skin and firm flesh. Stuff the goose with apples, shallots, garlic and thyme then slow roast. There will be a lot of fat renders down from the goose so make sure your roasting tray is deep enough and baste the goose every 20 minutes. Don’t rush it, long and slow is better.”

TURKEY: Free range ‘heritage’ varieties such as Bronze or Norfolk Black tend to take longer to reach maturity and are more flavour packed. Don’t forget to include bacon and chipolatas for pigs in blankets, and sausagemeat for stuffing on your order.

BEEF: A lovely rib roast of beef with crisp Yorkshires and roasties is a great Christmas Day meal, or for something more elegant make a Beef Wellington with a filet of beef.

CHICKEN: Ever tasted an organic locally raised free range roast chicken? Then maybe Christmas is the time to treat yourself and discover a true taste sensation.

PORK: Look for local rare breed pork for a roast with top notch crackling!

HAM: A baked and glazed ham is a must for any Boxing Day buffet.

VENISON: Game is still in season. Make a venison Wellington with a loin of venison or serve up a roast haunch of venison with celeriac, juniper and bay for your Christmas Day centrepiece.

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