How many of you cook game at home? My guess is not many. I wonder if that’s because you don’t know how or where to buy it.
Game has a short season and because of this, it can be hard to find. Until now, it’s been mainly sold in farm shops and village stores, where let’s be honest, it tends to be pretty pricey. Until now…
Marks & Spencer has just launched its autumn food collection and next month (once everything is in season), they’ll be rolling out a fantastic range of game. From whole and portioned birds through to Osso Bucco, different cuts of venison, rose veal and even a pie mix. Excuse the pun but for home cooks, I think this is a game changer.
A few weeks back I was lucky enough to attend their exclusive autumn collection launch at the stunning Thyme boutique hotel in the Cotswolds (more of which soon). We enjoyed a delicious meal showcasing the autumn range. As well as the game, we ate truffled mac and cheese, rainbow root veggies and a for pudding, a stunning selection of tarts (the salted caramel was straight from heaven) and a centrepiece pear and elderflower jelly. Everything was delicious and just confirmed my opinion on the quality and variety in the M&S food range.
Before we sat down to enjoy all that lovely food, we headed into the cookery school at Thyme. Jon Jones, Development and Innovation Chef at M&S, showed us how to make a delicious starter using their new mallard duck breasts. After the demo, I paired up with Niamh from Eat Like a Girl to give it a whirl. Between us, we somehow plated up two perfectly pan-fried mallard breasts, paired with pickled blackberries, goats curd and toasted hazelnuts.
It was delicious and I will definitely make it again. In fact, Jon has kindly shared the recipe with me so you can also try it!
Warm mallard salad with pickled blackberries & goats curd
Prep Time 20 mins + 4 hours pickling. Cook time 15 minutes.
Ingredients (serves 2):
- 100 ml white wine vinegar
- 70 ml water
- 40 g sugar
- 1 punnet blackberries
- 2 Mallard breasts
- Pinch of salt
- 10 ml olive oil
- 100 g soft goat’s cheese
- 15 ml whipping cream
- 1 head endive leaves
- Handful of watercress
- Handful of toasted & crushed hazelnuts
- 100 g chicken stock
- To make the pickle: Heat the vinegar, water and sugar together until the sugar dissolves. Allow to cool then pour over the blackberries. The blackberries will be ready to use after 4 hours or can be kept for up to 2 weeks.
- To make the salad: Gently warm the oil in a small frying pan. Season the mallard breasts then lay into the pan skin side down, allow the skin to slowly crisp for 6 minutes then turn the breast over and cook for a further 2 minutes. Remove from the pan and allow to rest.
- While the pan is still hot, use half of the blackberry pickling juice and all the chicken stock to deglaze the pan while stirring well to combine the delicious juices from the mallard. The liquid should boil and thicken to create a rich syrupy dressing.
- Mix the goat cheese with the whipping cream and season with salt and pepper.
- Spoon the seasoned goat’s cheese onto a large plate then arrange the endive and watercress leaves on top. Carve the mallard and add to the plate, cut the pickled blackberries in half and scatter amongst the leaves then sprinkle with crushed hazelnuts and the dressing from the pan.
That’ll impress your friends… Enjoy!
A bit about game:
We met chef and game expert Jose Souto. He talked us through the range and explained why game sometimes gets a bad name outside of the restaurant industry with most people harking back to outdated 1970’s ways of cooking it. And it’s true, you do tend to see it repeated in the same old ways like venison marinated in red wine and stewed and roast pheasant and bacon. Jose wants to teach people that game doesn’t have to be difficult, and actually, can be cooked in lots of different ways to form a part of your everyday diet.
The new M&S autumn food collection is available online and their huge game selection will be online and in selected stores from next month! What’ll you make first?