PUBLISHED: 05:46 24 November 2014
Farmer Guy Paterson beat top chefs at their own game when he was named national Game Chef of the Year. Guy, 26, of Dilham, won a series of cook-offs, culminating in preparing his own original recipes in front of an audience of more than 100 at Blenheim Palace.
Many of the competitors were professional chefs but Guy fits cooking around his work on the family farm, near North Walsham.
“I don’t remember a time when I didn’t cook,” says Guy. “I used to stand in the kitchen with my mum and watch her cook, and I used to bake with my grandma and make cakes and jam. When I moved out I started doing a lot more cooking for myself and experimenting. If we went out for a meal I would then try and make it at home.”
He particularly loves being able to create recipes from game he has shot and prepared himself.
Last Christmas Eve he shot a red stag on the family farm and, after gutting and butchering the huge animal, created a whole series of venison recipes.
For now, friends and family are the main beneficiaries of his culinary flair but he says that he would love to try cooking for a wider audience – perhaps opening an occasional pop-up restaurant at the farm.
Guy loves the rich flavours of game and, on his way to being crowned Country Land and Business Association (CLA) Game Chef of the Year, created recipes using muntjac deer and wood pigeon with blackcurrant jelly and whisky – but his absolute favourite dish is probably his own twist of steak and kidney pudding, made with haunch of deer.
James Rutland, of M and M Rutland Butchers, of Melton Constable, says game is increasingly popular with customers.
“I think the TV chefs are really good at making people aware of game and how to cook it. It lends itself to being cooked long and slow in stews, but you can also pan fry some duck or venison dishes very quickly. During the game season our customers’ favourites are pheasant, venison, partridge, mallard ducks and wild geese. I love a whole roasted pheasant, which is a nice change from chicken, or noisettes of venison.”
And James says game sausages are ideal for anyone wanting to try game for the first time. M and M Rutland Butchers, which has recently been named Independent Retailer of the Year at the EDP Norfolk Food and Drink Awards 2014 in association with the East of England Co-op, sells venison sausages and sausages made with a mouth-watering mixture of pheasant, duck, venison and partridge, and herbs and spices.
Pot roast pheasant with root vegetables and black cabbage
4 pheasant breasts
100g cooked potatoes
50g diced carrot
50g diced swede
50g diced butternut squash
50g diced celery
10g fresh thyme
500ml game stock
100g black cabbage
Sea salt and milled black pepper
Season and sear the pheasant breast then set aside. Place the vegetables into a thick-bottomed casserole dish. Place the pheasant breasts and thyme on top of the vegetables. Pour over the game stock. Place on the lid and cook for two hours in a pre-heated oven at 160C. Remove from the oven and allow to rest before serving. Serve the pheasant breasts with a little sauteed black cabbage. Serves four.
Grilled venison chops with creamed spinach and straw potatoes
4 venison chops
½tsp flaked sea salt
1tbsp fennel seeds
2tbsp olive oil
For the creamed spinach
1 bag of baby spinach
1tbsp olive oil, plus 2tbsp later
2 heaped tbsp full fat crème fraîche
A good scratch of nutmeg
1 small clove of excellent garlic (must not be sprouted)
Salt and pepper
For the straw potatoes
400g peeled large potatoes
Sunflower oil for frying
Wash the spinach and drain in a colander. Take a pan large enough for all the spinach and get it on a high heat. Add 1 tbsp oil and when it is hot, not smoking, throw in all the spinach. Stir, turning the leaves until they are totally collapsed. Remove from the heat.
Press the spinach against the side of the pan with wooden spoon and tip away all excess water. Stir spinach and repeat the process, getting rid of as much water as you can. Put the spinach in a blender.
Add one heaped tablespoon of crème fraîche, nutmeg, the remaining 2tbsp olive oil, garlic, and salt and pepper. Blitz together until the purée is smooth. Adjust the seasoning to taste. Heat creamed spinach just before you need it - if kept on a long, slow heat, it will lose its fabulous colour.
Peel and very thinly slice the potatoes. Stack slices, then slice them lengthways into matchstick thickness.
Preheat grill to high, and heat 2ins of oil in a medium pan to 180c. Season the venison chops with salt and fennel seeds, and rub them all over with oil. Place close under the grill, turning them once until cooked to your preference – about four minutes on each side. Or seal the rack in a pan and cook in a hot oven for about 12 mins.
Drop the potato slithers in the oil and fry until golden, stirring occasionally. Remove to kitchen roll to drain and salt generously. Serve chops with the warmed spinach and tangled chips. Serves two.
Recipes courtesy of the Countryside Alliance; for more visit www.gametoeat.co.uk