How to Make Game Stock

This is a recipe for a good game stock – it is a modified version of one that appears in Lindsey Bareham’s very excellent book A Celebration of Soup. If you have some game carcasses left over from a meal, turn them into stock – you can either freeze the stock, or the carcasses, for whenever you need them. You don’t need many either – I managed to make a pint of good stock from a single woodcock carcass.
The amount of vegetables and spices etc indicated here will do for up to 4 small birds or 2 larger ones. You may want to increase or decrease the amount of water added though – don’t forget, you can reduce a stock so you can be quite liberal with the water. If you want to make more, you can just increase the ingredients.

First chop the carcass(es) and place them in an ovenproof casserole dish and roast them in the oven for 20 minutes at 200⁰C. Remove them and add a little wine – red or white is fine – or a little water to deglaze the dish. Add some chopped stock vegetables: a carrot, an onion, a celery stick, 2 tomatoes and one or two cloves of garlic. Return to the oven for a further 5 to 10 minutes. Now add a spring of rosemary, a bay leaf, five or six peppercorns and between one and two pints of water, depending on the amount of stock you want. It also depends on the birds being used – small partridges, woodcock or grouse produce a stronger stock than, say, pheasant. The stock needs to be cooked uncovered for at least two hours very gently; you can do this on the hob or in a low oven. Strain the stock, reduce if required, season with salt, then skim after it has been allowed to cool. Easy peasy.

Pheasant and Celery Broth

There was no way I was throwing out the carcasses of the roast pheasants, so I did my research and came up with this soup which used up all the celery trimmings and unused potatoes from the game chips too. I also found pigeon carcasses in the freezer, so I added them in. The idea here is that you can use any poultry or game bird carcasses as long as you’ve got enough of them. The point is to use whatever left over vegetables you’ve got, so I’ve not given amounts – I even chucked in the leftover cooked peas and beans that hadn’t been eaten right at the end.

You will need…
Carcasses of 2 pheasant, cut up (or 1 chicken, turkey or several smaller game birds, etc, etc)
4 pints of water
Bouquet garni
5 peppercorns
1 teaspoon salt
Stock vegetables/trimmings – i.e. celery, onion, leek etc. all roughly chopped
1 pint of light beef stock
4 ounces of pearl barley
Sliced/cubed broth vegetables – potatoes, carrots, etc
4 or 5 sticks of celery, sliced or cubed

What to do…
Place the carcasses into a large saucepan or stockpot with the water, the bouquet garni, the peppercorns, salt and the stock vegetables. Bring to the boil, cover tightly and simmer for 2 to 2 ½ hours. Strain the stock and return it to the pan and add the barley, beef stock, celery and the other stock vegetables and simmer for a further hour. Whilst you are waiting, pick any meat from the carcasses and put them in with broth at the end. Check the seasoning. Serve with buttered brown bread.

Vegetable Soup

This is my vegetable soup, which I admit is pretty good. I always make a great load of it and freeze what I don’t eat. It’s very good for you, easy to make and pretty substantial for a soup containing no big meaty bits! The Grigson also does one that contains lots of meat! I must admit I make mine with chicken stock, but I also make it with vegetable stock and it’s almost as good. It difficult to stick to an exact recipe, because it throw in whatever I have, plus the time of year has a great effect. I think that there are certain ingredients that are a must, however, such as potato, onion, garlic, carrot, i.e. basic stock vegetables. That said if you miss a couple out it’s also fine. I would say try and use as many of them as possible. All should be clear in the recipe. The rest of the vegetables can then be added at the appropriate time – roots straight after the stock has come to a simmer, and greens towards the end. The choice of herbs is your own, but I like the classics – thyme, parsley, pepper and mint. Any stalks and leaves you don’t use, freeze. I freeze all my fresh herbs and spices – chillies, herbs, ginger, etc etc…

I think that some protein is required so I always add some red lentils, which thicken the soup slightly, and a can of beans – any will do, use your favourite.

For some tips on what to put in your bouquet garni, have a look at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bouquet_garni. I find that those little bags you get with washing tablets work quite well!

You will need:
2 tbs olive oil, or butter
bouquet garni – made from a very generous sprig of thyme, parsley stalks, mint stalks
2 litres of chicken or vegetable stock
2 tbs of red lentils
salt and pepper

As many of the following basic vegetables as possible:
1 onion, chopped
1 medium-sized potato, diced
3 cloves of garlic, chopped
1-2 carrots, diced
1-2 sticks celery, diced
1 leek, sliced – use as much of the green parts as possible. Slice it finely though as it can be tough

2 or 3 root veg, diced appropriately, as some take longer to cook than others e.g. turnips, a small swede, parsnip
1 or 2 greens, thinly sliced e.g. 1/4 white cabbage, kale, peas (don’t slice those, obv.!)
1 can of cooked beans
2 tbs each parsley and mint
more salt and pepper, if required

What to do:

  1. Fry the stock vegetables in the oil gently for a few minutes, when they start to soften, season and add the bouquet garni. (Tie the herbs with a piece of string, or put in a muslin bag). Continue to fry for about 10 minutes – don’t let the vegetables colour, though.
  2. Add the stock and bring to the boil, add the lentils, then allow to simmer for 5 minutes.
  3. Add the root vegetables and simmer until tender – around 15 minutes.
  4. Add the greens, beans and herbs and allow to simmers for 5 more minutes.
  5. Removed the bouquet garni and check the seasoning.

Creamy Mushroom Pasta

This is one of my favorite recipes. It’s pretty easy, but requires a little care and attention – it’s the slow-cooking of the onions and mushrooms that make this dish. It’s based on a dish that an Italian chap called Luigi gave my Mum. I’m sure it’s got an exciting Italian name, though I’ve no idea what it would be. It’s originally made with chicken, mushrooms and cream, but I’ve faffed about with it. I do put chicken in it from time to time, but as mushrooms are one of my favorites, I’ve ended making this meal my mushroom fix. Use the best mushrooms you can find – my favorite are the dark-gilled Portobello mushrooms – they give a good earthy taste. I’ve also changed the double cream of the original recipe to creme fraiche, as it gives a slight piquant zing, that compliments the sweet, slightly chewy caramelised onions very well.

You will need:
1 onion, finely chopped
2 cloves of garlic, crushed
6 tbs good olive oil
8oz (250g) mushrooms, sliced
2 sprigs of fresh thyme, or half a generous tsp of dried (oregano could be used instead)
around 5 tbs of creme fraiche (or double cream)
salt and pepper
freshly ground nutmeg
whole wheat pasta

What to do:

  1. Fry the onions in the oil on a medium heat along with the thyme in a large, heavy frying pan. Cook the onions gently – don’t let them change colour yet.
  2. After 8-10 minutes, add the garlic and mushrooms. Season with salt, pepper and nutmeg. The idea here is that the slow frying evaporated all the moisture away allowing the onions to caramelise. The more time you spend over this the better. Take at least 15 minutes, ten minimum. You should end up with unctuous oily mushroom, and flecks of sweet, chewy onion.
  3. Whilst the mushrooms are cooking, boil the pasta in salted water in the largest saucepan you have – the pasta will be less gluey from escaped starch and will cook quicker.
  4. Stir in the creme fraiche a tablespoon at a time until all the olive oil is incorporated into it.
  5. Add the drained pasta to the mixture and stir through.
  6. Serve in large bowls.

Cheat’s onion gravy

This is one that I do if I want nice gravy but I’m not making a roast dinner, or more often, if there’s a (*sharp intake of breath!*) vegetarian. It’s very easy and probably doesn’t count as a recipe, but fuck it; it’s my blog so I can put whatever I like in it… Sorry about that outburst there. I often do this with mushrooms aswell as or instead of onions…

You will need:
Gravy granules
Vegetable stock from any boiled veg you’re having, else use boiling water
1 small onion, sliced into half rings
1 tbs sunflower, or any other flavorless, oil
spring of thyme, rosemary or other suitable herb
Pepper

What to do:

  1. Fry the onion on a medium heat in the oil along with the thyme until the onion goes dark brown – almost black – around the edges. Season with pepper – don’t add salt because gravy granules are salty enough.
  2. Make the gravy with the stock, according to the instructions on the packet, or to your own liking
  3. Add the gravy to the pan and allow to simmer for around five minutes. Add more water if it’s looking a bit on the thick side.
  4. Pour into a jug or gravy boat, if posh; or just pour straight onto roast dinner, if not posh.

Rice Krispie Cake

Everyone has a favorite recipe for Rice Krispie cake and it’s usually their Mum’s. But when people try my Mum’s they soon see the error of their ways. My Mum used to own her own bakery many years ago before I was even thought of and this the RKC she sold. It has to be the best one. I dare anyone to better it: the secret ingredient is… Mars bars! Although I did try it with Snickers and it worked quite well. Either way, it must be eaten with a cup of tea.

I will try and give amounts because I do it all by eye; use your judgement.

You will need:
2 Mars bars, chopped up
2 tbs golden syrup
1 1/2 to 2 ounces (45-60g) butter (though my Mum always uses margarine)
Rice Krispies
milk chocolate

What to do:

  1. Melt the Mars bars, golden syrup and butter slowly in a saucepan, stirring often. Don’t let it burn!
  2. Pour the melted mixture into a large bowl containing the Rice Krispies. Add more cereal if you need to; the mixture is very rich so a thin covering is all that is required, but you should do it to your own taste.
  3. Spread the mixture out into a Swiss roll tin that has been lined in greaseproof paper or foil. Flatten it our neatly with a spatula or palette knife.
  4. Melt the milk chocolate over simmering water or on a medium heat in the microwave and spread thinly over the top of the RKC mixture.
  5. Allow to cool (if possible) and cut into squares.

Tatties wi’ their hats on

Ok. Another of my own recipes. Actually it’s one my uncle used to do. He passed away about 12 years ago, but I went to visit my Auntie last weekend and she made this dish. Tatties wi‘ their hats on has to be pronounced in a Yorkshire accent. Next time you cook a roast dinner make these brilliant potatoes, they’re genius! You roast them in the oven in a tray filled part way up with vegetable stock and sliced onions. The tops have a coating of bought, dry sage and onion stuffing straight out of the packet. If you are doing roast pork or chicken pop the meat in and nestle the potatoes around it. It may all sound slightly naff, but it is one of the bast ways to do tatties! I goes particularly well with a roast shoulder of pork (with crackling, of course) and apple sauce.

You will need:
Medium-sized potatoes, peeled (I do 2 per person)
3 medium-sized onions, sliced
Vegetable stock
Sage and onion stuffing
Salt and pepper

What to do…

  1. Preheat the oven to 108 degrees Celsius (or if having with meat, follow instructions for the meat you are roasting).
  2. Spread the sliced onions evenly on the bottom of a roasting tin
  3. Cut the base of each potato so that they can stand up longways (like large eggs!). Dunk the top of each potato in some stuffing and season well.
  4. Nestle these amongst the onions, or around the joint of meat. Sprinkle extra stuffing on top
  5. Pour enough stock so that it is around 1/2 inch deep.
  6. Roast for around 1 1/2 hours until cooked.
  7. If you’re doing meat – make sure it’s a cut that take at least 1 1/2 hours to cook, otherwise it’ll dry out