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What I thought might be a slightly simpler week in fact turned out to have a few bumps in the road with regards to Game birds (no references to road-kill intended there). Did you know that Game – in particular birds like pheasants, grouse and woodcock – is rather thin on the ground in Cornwall at the moment? Neither did I, until I started hunting around for a veritable medley of flying creatures to put in Ken Symons’ Ragout of Game Birds. It’s funny, because autumn in general just puts me in mind of tweed, welly boots and eating really rich meat that’s been shot by someone with a double-barrelled name, so it’s rather strange to think that there’s a shortage of such a quintessentially autumnal treat.
Anyway, game birds were located (read on for more), crabs were picked (ditto) and quite possibly the best fish and chips I have ever had were made in my very own kitchen. Hello, bigger dress sizes…
Steve Marsh’s Fish and Chips
Time taken: 45 minutes
Perfect for: Any excuse. I’d probably eat this for breakfast if it was socially acceptable.
On request, the Cornish Food Box provided me with the chunkiest, juiciest fillet of hake that I’d ever seen – caught at Newlyn that morning – which was then dunked in a simple mixture of St Austell Brewery’s Korev lager (only half a bottle – I got to drink the rest) with some flour and seasoning. A borrowed mini fryer from the CFD kitchen turned out to be a godsend and the fish was absolutely perfect. Add to the mix some twice-fried chips and it was a really splendid Friday night tea.
A naughty confession – I didn’t make my own mayonnaise. The recipe is there, and it’s very easy to do, but I was panicking so much about using a fryer for the first time that I decided against it. You can decide for yourselves if that’s cheating…
Steve Marsh (head chef of the Greenbank Hotel)’s recipe for Fish and Chips with homemade tartare sauce is on page 127 of the Great Cornish Food Book
The Perfect Crab Sandwich
Time taken: 1 hour-ish
Perfect for: An indulgent treat, and showing off how easy it is to find fresh Cornish crab to out-of-county guests
I do love crab. Never eat it often enough, so this recipe was a good excuse. Fresh granary loaf from Portreath Bakery (along with a cheeky Red Velvet cupcake because they are marvellous), and a hefty, cooked hen crab from Kernow Sashimi at the farmer’s market in Truro (it had to be a normal crab due to lack of Spider crabs – but given how scary Spiders look I was quite glad about that), and that’s basically all you need. I’ve never picked a crab before though (to my shame), and so followed an afternoon of smashing this beast together with the handle of a knife, and getting weirdly fixated on getting as much meat out as possible. The resultant lunch was well worth the trauma.
This recipe was by the Rum & Crab Shack’s head chef Stuart McGuire, and is on page 30
Ragout of Game Birds
Time taken: Lost count a little bit due to wine
Perfect for: An afternoon with time and attention to spare, and an empty tummy
Having managed to find a pigeon from Roach Fine Foods (in Truro’s Pannier Market) and a guinea fowl from Brian Etherington Meat Co., I set about constructing this robust, autumnal, slightly Shakespearean dish. There’s quite a lot of work that goes into it, a lot of which can’t be left unattended, so it’s one to attempt perhaps in advance if you’re entertaining, or maybe if (like me), you’re happy to be pottering about in the kitchen for the better part of an afternoon. The results are very rich and sumptuous, and (I think) over too quickly for the amount of time it took. Still though, it was definitely a good substitute for Sunday roast, it made the house smell like Christmas dinner, and I got a smashing game pie out of the leftovers the next day.
Ken Symonds (Oliver’s, Falmouth)’s recipe for Game Bird Ragout is on page 53 of the Great Cornish Food Book
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