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Great British Game Week: Joshua Hunter's Top Tips For Cooking Game

/ Categories Tricks of the trade, Alumni, #MadeAtLeiths / Author:

Great British Game Week: Joshua Hunter's Top Tips For Cooking Game

It’s Great British Game Week. Leiths alumnus Joshua Hunter, now head chef at Holland & Holland, shares his top tips to up your game game.

Leiths alumnus Joshua Hunter has been head chef at the Holland & Holland Shooting Grounds since January 2019. After completing his Diploma in 2011, Joshua went on to work at top London restaurants La Trompette, Murano and Kitchen W8, then as a private chef for celebrity clients like Tom Cruise and the Beckhams. Here, to celebrate Great British Game Week (November 22-28), Joshua shares his pro tips for great game cookery.

Number one is sourcing. Go to a high-quality game dealer or butcher so you can be sure of getting consistent quality. We use HG Walter, Vicars Game, and Macken Brothers in Chiswick. For venison, we use a mixture of completely wild and some from Aynhoe Park where [two Michelin star chef] Brett Graham has his deer.

If you’re new to game cookery, start simple and do something like roasting a piece of venison loin. It’s very similar to cooking beef fillet.

Get your birds plucked and drawn! Don’t start off with a bird in feather because it'll take you absolutely ages and you’re going to make a terrible mess.

Overcooking is a common problem as game is very lean. Most game should be served medium or medium rare. We brine almost all the game birds in a ten percent salt and water solution with various aromats before we cook them. That helps tenderise them, season them evenly and prevents them drying out.

We cook birds on the crown and braise the legs separately. If you roast a pheasant in much the same way as you would a chicken, the crown will be ready before the legs.

Game works well with other wild foods. We use a lot of foraged mushrooms which arrive just as game season is coming in. Earthy root vegetables like beetroot and turnips pair well too.

Game has a really intense flavour, so you have to be a little bit clever with the way you construct a dish. It’s always worth balancing the richness and gaminess of the meat with something sweet and acidic. Pickled walnuts pair well; we have pickled pears with our partridge at the moment; we also make a damson vinegar that we cut some of the game sauces with at the end so you have a nice rich jus gras with a little bit of the vinegar that really lifts it.

Game cookery has moved on quite a lot in recent years. Most of the game I serve is contemporary and modernised and accessible. People now recognise just how versatile it is.

Author: Hilary Armstrong


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