Want to create indulgent autumnal game dishes but not sure where to start? James Nathan, head chef of St Enodoc Hotel in Rock, gave us the low-down on four seasonal pairing and preparation tips for gorgeous game
‘There’s something so gratifying about being in tune with the seasons’ natural produce,’ says James. ‘I love combining wild game and foraged ingredients because they go so wonderfully well together.’
Venison is low in fat and high in protein and is what early man evolved eating – it’s very good for you. I’ve been pairing it with a port reduction infused with sloes at the restaurant, which produces a lovely deep purple colour that makes you want to hunker down with a bottle of red in front of the fire to feast on autumn’s finest offerings from the fields.
Do it yourself: Marinade the sloes in port with sugar, then remove the berries and make a port reduction.
This is a very accessible game meat with a slightly more robust flavour than chicken. I enjoy cooking it with pearl barley and seasonal fruit and veg such as apples, pumpkins and squash. Our menu features partridge with butternut puree, cider and apple juice sauce, and whole blanched cavolo nero leaves. Add some Padstow Brewery Sunshine cider for a light and vibrant accompaniment.
Do it yourself: It’s crucial to cook partridge gently otherwise it can become dry. I cook the legs separately by slowly poaching them in duck fat, leaving the breast on the crown, sous vide, at 58°c for 20 minutes and roasting it off to finish. They are ever so slightly pinkish when carved, but don’t fear poultry being under cooked – these are wild birds that don’t carry the diseases common to intensively reared flocks.
Pigeon is a stunning wild game meat that’s found in abundance locally. It has a rich, dark meat almost similar to a fillet steak. I like to go traditional, pairing pigeon with hazelnuts – fitting seeing as they emanate from the same hedgerow environment. The nuts provide crunch and a raspberry vinaigrette gives some zing.
Do it yourself: Serve your pigeon, hazelnut and raspberry vinaigrette as a salad (pictured) with a blob of apple and beetroot gel at the bottom of the bowl to add some seasonal sparkle.
Pheasant is best eaten later in the season in November, which coincides with when the fields burst with Savoy cabbage, sprouts and parsnips. Chefs love a good puree and for me, one of the greatest is parsnip puree: my mother’s recipe is my absolute favourite.
Do it yourself: Blanch the parsnips in water, then blitz in the blender with a bit of cream, butter and nutmeg. Delicious.