Out damned shot! out, I say…
Hello and welcome to Philippa Davis postcard recipes 2014! Having consumed 1 (or 3) Clementine Iced Margaritas too many over my New Year holiday I sadly cannot give you the accurate recipe. I remember there being lots of juicing going on by others, a lot of tequila being poured by me and having fun smashing ice to the right size but the rest is a haze. I can assure you they are delicious though and I promise to be better food blogger next time and share the recipe…
Swiftly moving on to 2014 and re – donning my chefs apron I headed off for a shooting job on the Cawdor Estate near Inverness, home to many game birds and beasts, wild salmon and of course Macbeth. The train journey up from Edinburgh was through thick swirling mists, then pretty snow scattered grounds and by toiling streams bubbling with dark waters. So foul and fair a day I had not seen, though they do say in Scotland if you don’t like the weather, wait five minutes. A show stopping landscape greeted me upon arrival, along with the sound of cackling pheasants, perhaps celebrating they had made it thus far through the season?
I was to cook at Drynachan Lodge http://www.cawdor.com for a party of 14 and was excited to be asked to laden my menus with game from the estate. Woodcock on toast for breakfast, Roast pheasant for lunch ( this postcards recipe) and Braised mountain hare with dried porcini, red wine, chopped watercress and tagliatelle smothered in butter and parmesan for dinner.
To finish that days feasting something wicked this way comes to the table in the form of dessert.
Pavlova with blackcurrants picked from the garden in summer.
I hadn’t cooked hare before and had assumed it was mostly off limits for shooting. The mountain hares from the estate ( whose fur turns a beautiful white in winter) had been affected a few years back with ticks and so numbers were being kept down to stop it from spreading. Fortunately they still remain edible. It always amazes me the immense task of managing a wild environment and the careful balance that must be kept for everything to survive. If problems like ticks are not dealt with in one fell swoop the ecosystem can become unbalanced.
The days shooting kicked off well with clear skies, excited dogs and stylishly dressed guns ( a person shooting) heading off to their first pegs.
At the end of the day the head gamekeeper will give a little de brief and let the guns know how many birds were shot and often lay out a display of the days bag. Then the exhausted but happy dogs can collapse back into the land rovers for the ride home and the game keepers, beaters, flankers, pickers up ( those collecting the shot birds) and guns can head off for afternoon tea and wee drams to celebrate the days success.
This weeks statistics
Macbeth quotes precariously weaved into postcard, 6
Pheasants/ partridge shot, 348
Cream consumed, 1260ml
This weeks transport
East coast train from Edinburgh to Aviemore
Landrover Defender ( oh boy, are they fun)
Airlingus flight to Dublin
Next I am off to the fair city of Dublin to catch a glimpse of the tart with the cart….
Roast Pheasant with apples, bacon and cream and wholegrain mustard
2 oven ready pheasant
4 rashers of unsmoked streaky bacon cut into 1 inch pieces
4 sticks of celery, 2 carrots, 2 red onions all diced into approx 1 cm squares
2 bay leaves
300ml pear cider
2 apples ( I used Braeburn) quartered and core removed
200ml double cream
1 tbsp wholegrain mustard.
olive oil, salt and pepper
Remember when roasting pheasant – what’s done cannot be undone, and dry pheasant is not a joyous meal so this dish needs your full attention. By half roasting half braising the birds you should get a delicious result and remember look out for shot.
1)Season the pheasant with salt and rub them with a little olive oil. Sear them in a frying pan on all sides on a medium heat then place into a roasting dish.
2)In the frying pan add a tablespoon more olive oil then add the onion, celery, carrots and bay leaves. Fry for about five minutes until they have just started to cook then scatter this around the pheasant with the chopped apples.
3)Add the cider to the frying pan, bring to the boil then add to the pheasants. Season with pepper.
4)Place the pheasants into a 190 c oven and check after 30 mins.
( The best place to see if a bird is cooked is by looking in between the thigh and breast, when poked with a knife you should clear juices running from the meat).
5)If done ( or nearly done) add the cream and stir in the mustard. Then rest for 10 minutes under a loose piece of foil in a warm place ( or pop back in the oven for another 5 – 10 minutes if you think they need longer to cook).
Serve with mashed potato and greens, I used curly kale and topped it with parsnip chips.