Fair game

PUBLISHED: 11:34 01 November 2013 | UPDATED: 11:35 01 November 2013

Mary Kemp recipes. Tarragon rabbit with sauteed sprouts.

Mary Kemp recipes. Tarragon rabbit with sauteed sprouts.

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Mary Kemp recipes. Turnip gratin.Mary Kemp recipes. Turnip gratin.

Creamy tarragon rabbit

We’re often prone to overlook game when cooking in the winter months but it’s such a wonderful seasonal ingredient which can be so inexpensive. If you’re not happy to prepare and dress game birds or rabbits, a good butcher will do this for you.There is a wonderful French recipe for rabbit in a cream sauce with mustard. I’ve taken the inspiration from this classic recipe and, rather than using mustard, flavoured the sauce with tarragon which works perfectly. A good butcher will prepare the rabbit for you.

Serves four to six

Mary Kemp recipes. Roast partridge in Madiera sauce.Mary Kemp recipes. Roast partridge in Madiera sauce.

Knob of butter

4 rabbit legs and 4 rabbit shoulders

2 good glasses of white wine

Handful fresh tarragon

150ml double cream

Lemon juice

Salt and pepper

1 Melt a knob of butter in a large heavy based pan. Cook the legs for five minutes, turning so they brown evenly. Add the shoulders to the pan and cook for another five minutes until the shoulders are golden brown, cover the pan and gently cook the meat for another five minutes.

2 Add the wine and half of the tarragon, and bring to the boil. Reduce the heat and leave, stirring occasionally until the rabbit is cooked and the liquor has reduced. At this point you could remove the pan from the heat and leave to cool, and finish the dish when you are ready to serve.

3 Twenty minutes before serving, stand the pan on a moderate heat and pour in the double cream.Toss in the rest of the tarragon, stir well and heat through.Taste and season and add a squeeze of lemon juice.

4 Serve with sautéed potatoes and simple green vegetables.

Buttered Sprouts

So many people are convinced they don’t like sprouts, but that’s normally because they have only tasted sprouts which have been boiled, either for too long so are a horrible stewed mush, or not enough time and are like golf balls! Cooking them this way seems to bring them to life and many of your guests will not even realise that they are eating sprouts.

Brussels sprouts, a handful per person

Knob of butter

Salt and pepper

1 Finely shred the sprouts, then bring to the boil in salted water and simmer for two or three minutes.

2 Strain and refresh them in cold water (this can be done in the morning ready for the evening).

3 Just before you are ready to serve, heat the butter in a deep frying or sauté pan and cook the sprouts until they are evenly covered in butter and heated through.

4 Taste and season well, then serve immediately.

Turnip Gratin

This is a lovely way to cook turnip, and you will find even those who would say they are not turnip fans will be converted!

350ml whipping cream

Half a bay leaf

1 sprig of thyme

1 garlic clove crushed

A dash of white wine vinegar

Salt and freshly ground pepper

700g turnips peeled and thinly sliced

1 Preheat the oven to 220C/gas mark 6/Aga roasting oven.

2 Boil the cream with the half of bay leaf, thyme, garlic, vinegar, and salt and pepper. Arrange the sliced turnips in a gratin dish strain the cream and pour over the turnips. Cover with foil and bake for about 45 minutes, removing the foil after 30 minutes.

3 To make ahead, cook for 30 minutes and stand somewhere cool then reheat for a good 20 minutes at 200C just before serving.

Roast partridge in Madiera sauce

This lovely recipe can be used for pheasant and partridge, and includes many of the ingredients you would automatically serve with game. I find both partridges and pheasants dry out when roasting, so I start the cooking process with the birds upside down, turning them over half way to brown and crisp.

Serves four to six

10-12 little round shallots, whole, peeled

8 rashers streaky bacon, chopped into small lardons

4 cloves garlic

4 dressed partridges


1 pint chicken stock

100ml Madeira or Marsala

Fresh rosemary

1 tsp redcurrant jelly

1 tsp corn flour, diluted in a little cold water (add more if you like a thicker sauce)

1 Preheat oven to 200C/gas mark 6.

2Warm a dash of oil in a heavy based casserole – it makes life easier if you have one that you are happy to take to the table. Add the onions, garlic and bacon to the dish and sauté until they start to soften.

3 Lay the partridges on top of the onions and bacon, upside down, with a knob of butter on each bird. Place in the preheated oven or the roasting oven of the Aga and roast for 20 minutes until golden brown. If the pan gets a little dry, add some of the stock.

4 Remove the pan from the oven.Turn over the partridges and add the Madeira to the roasting tin with half of the chicken stock and the rosemary. Return the pan to the oven for another 20 minutes, or until the partridges are cooked and golden brown.

5 Remove the partridges, onions, garlic and bacon from the pan and leave to rest somewhere warm.

6 To make the sauce, skim off any excess fat then add the stock and redcurrant jelly. Reduce the juices in the pan, thicken with the corn flour and cook over a gentle heat. Season and taste, adding more of the redcurrant jelly if needed.

7 Once the sauce is ready, return the partridges to the pan and serve with the buttered sprouts, turnip gratin and a simple potato dish.

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