One of the most exciting things about being a chef in this country is working with the seasons. The excitement that builds up towards the British asparagus or strawberry season which sometimes culminates in feeling you’ve eaten enough strawberries for one year and you’re ready for the change of the seasons!
In the late summer, it’s game that we start to get excited about and it becomes an important part of the menus at the Fox & Hounds from September to March. I’ve always loved cooking game and we’ve served it here since we opened 15 years ago. In recent years there’s been a growing interest from the public in game because it’s both sustainable and nutritious!
At the Fox & Hounds one of our most popular game dishes is the Italian classic of hand-rolled pappardelle with a rich game ragout.
We use the shank and shin of venison and other off cuts -we generally buy venison in whole so this dish is perfect for using various cuts. We also use rabbit legs and pheasant and partridge. The meat is cooked on the bone slowly in wine and stock. Once cooked, all the bone is removed and the meat is then shredded into a sauce of diced vegetables & bacon. The result is a delicious rich, sticky sauce full of flavour.
Our Christmas Party menu also features Peppered haunch of venison with traditional accompaniments of dauphinoise & red cabbage – the venison is cooked in the Josper charcoal oven which seals in the flavour and keeps it tender. Partridge and pheasant are low in fat so need need careful cooking and our Josper oven does that perfectly. The heat and the quickness of cooking in the Josper help seal in the flavours, without drying the meat out. One of our favourite ways to serve partridge is with mushroom risotto and pumpkin.
Although the Fox & Hounds is only 30 miles outside London, game is abundant in the Hertfordshire countryside around us. In fact our county town Hertford takes it’s name from the Anglo-Saxon “heort ford’ meaning ‘the place where deer cross the river’.
We source our game from a local dealer just two miles way. Pheasant and partridge comes the local estate, rabbits from the local fields and venison from Epping and Clavering.
Wild game is very sustainable. It also has nutritional benefits – it’s high in protein, low in saturated fatty acids and contains higher levels of iron compared to other red meat. Pheasant and partridge also high in iron, vitamin B(6) and selenium.