Back to school: all about British game

Easily one of the best things about being a food writer and passionate cook is that you can never stop learning about food! And that combined with the fact that I always feel excited when I walk into a college (I feel like I’m a student again!), meant I was really looking forward to my day at the Westminster Kingsway College in Victoria.

My day’s seminar on Game Recognition and Preparation was conducted by Jose Souto who is chief lecturer in culinary arts and a total expert on British game which he has been hunting, preparing and cooking for years!

Who knew what a big subject it was! Jose started by talking us through the smaller game, some feathered and some furred. There are plenty of species of game bird in the UK, from the commonly found wood pigeon, to pheasants, partridges, grouse and duck and the rarer migratory woodcock and snipe. They’re all available at different times of the year (except the wood pigeon which you will always find).

Some of the game birds found in the UK

And then there’s the smaller furred animals like rabbit and hare.

Rabbits, hare and more birds

We then moved downstairs for an excellent lunch in one of the college’s two restaurants (see previous post). A tasty pigeon starter was followed by a partridge main course.

These are some of the deer you’ll find in this country

After lunch it was on to the deer (venison) of which there are six species in the UK. The most fascinating part of the day for me was when Jose took a whole deer and proceeded to butcher it into all the different cuts of meat. This is what he started with.

Jose gets started on the deer – he skinned it in front of us and made it look effortless

Make no mistake, it’s a physical job, a proper form of exercise! And Jose managed to keep up a constant stream of banter while he did it! He approached the whole process very much from a chef’s perspective. While he was breaking the animal down he talked about dishes he would make from each of the cuts and clever ways to make the meat go further.

So here’s the finished job…what a lot of meat

It was a pleasure to spend the day learning more about this amazing subject and about the versatility of game when it comes to cooking with it. Look out for some amazing recipes coming soon.

Jose’s passion for game really shines through and is very contagious. I definitely know a lot more than I did but his knowledge is vast and has accumulated over a lifetime. I’m hoping he’s going to do a guest blog for me soon. Watch this space.

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