The game’s afoot…
As I sit writing this, the detritus of last night’s dinner litters my kitchen. Last night, with a mate over for dinner with my housemate and I, was my first real foray into the world of game.
I say first real, because I’ve cooked venison and wild boar sausages and burgers before – even crocodile – but they were pre-prepared and packaged. All I had to do was unwrap and cook. This time, as I prepared the meal, I was faced with the carcass of a rabbit.
Now for a soft Home Counties boy like me, rabbit, when I grew up, was something that lived in a hutch in the garden, chewed lettuce and fixed you with a baleful stare. On the rare occasion my mother did do some for tea, she was faced with for young faces that radiated the message: “Nice try mum, but we ain’t eating Peter Rabbit.”
Similarly, rare was the butcher in an area dominated by the supermarket that would sell it. It certainly wouldn’t be locally sourced.
So you can imagine my slightly smug joy when I was in Tavistock the other week and happened upon Palmers Butchers.
I was nosing around their fare with my girlfriend and got chatting to the man behind the counter. I noticed a selection of game birds on display which led me to ask: “Got any rabbit?” His answer was to go to his deep freeze and return with a skinned and gutted coney, which was mine for£2.80. This was no farmed meat, this was shot by one of his mates and brought in locally.
Now I don’t know about you but that is a bargain. Once I’d finished butchering it, which I did very badly, it went into the pot last night with carrots, leeks, celery, petit pois, lardons, thyme, mustard and cider. And of course lashings of mash.
And I thought: someone should really tell the world at large that game isn’t the preserve of the rich and chinless. The unlucky beast fed three of us, once buttery mash was added into the equation. And it got the thumbs up all round.
So the moral of the story is: Thumbs up to the local butchers with a finger on the local pulse and a supply of affordable local meat.