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Beginner’s guide to cooking game

Chef owner Tom Hannon of The Rising Sun in Truro explains why partridge, pheasant and venison are the fairest of game at this time of year
Game pie

Chef owner Tom Hannon of The Rising Sun in Truro explains why partridge, pheasant and venison are the fairest of game at this time of year

With its cracking location in the heart of Cornwall, The Rising Sun is surrounded by game-producing estates and, as a champion of locally sourced seasonal food, Tom likes to make the most of the sustainable regional delicacy.

‘It helps, of course, that it is absolutely delicious,’ he says. ‘But as well as the amazing taste there is also the fact that the animals are free range and have a full, rich life in their natural environment. The estates and game industry support local communities and undertake a vast amount of conservation work.’

Tom also believes game to be some of the healthiest meat available, and says: ‘As game is wild and free to roam, it doesn’t store much fat. It’s also very high in iron and contains many nutrients. And due to its natural diet, the meat not only has a fantastic flavour, it’s also free from the growth hormones and antibiotics used in farmed meats.’

Tom’s beginner’s guide to game

  1. The best thing to remember when cooking game is that it has less fat and more muscle than beef and chicken, so you need to cook it for less time to ensure it doesn’t become tough. Don’t be afraid to serve a little pink.
  2. There is a popular misconception that pheasant and partridge are dry. This is generally because the whole bird has been roasted (different parts cook at different times) or they have been overcooked. The breast is the easiest part of the bird to cook: try pan frying for a short time with plenty of butter to help keep it moist.
  3. If you’re trying pheasant or partridge for the first time or prefer a subtle game flavour, ask your butcher for a young hung bird (the longer they’re hung, the more intense the flavour).
  4. If you’re looking for a tender venison cut, go for the saddle (loin). Or try cuts such as haunch steaks, or diced venison which is great when marinated and cooked low and slow.
  5. If in doubt about how to serve game, start by substituting it in one of your favourite recipes. Venison works well instead of beef, while partridge and pheasant are a good stand-in for chicken.
  6. The old adage states: ‘what grows together goes together’, so look for vegetables that are in season at the same time as the game – root veggies are always a winning match.

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