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By Well Seasoned, Nov 3 2017 03:00AM

This is a repeat of a piece from the old Well Seasoned site but since the beginning of October, I've been up to my ears in great value, great tasting pheasant, so I thought I'd re-post. It's also worth mentioning that Russell's recipe in the previous post (Buttermilk Partridge Burgers) works very well with pheasant so there's no excuse not to be eating game of one kind or another this weekend.


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Some five years ago it was rumoured that a disgruntled KFC employee, faced with redundancy, had revealed the “secret blend” of herbs and spices used by the (in)famous fried chicken joint. A social media frenzy catapulted the recipe round the world faster than you can say “Colonel Saunders” and although the company has never publically confirmed it, the consensus seems to be that it is, at the very least, a good approximation of their recipe.


The ethical difficulties with eating KFC chicken hardly need to be spelled out on this blog. The problem is, as most of us would have to admit, it tastes pretty darn good. So what to do? Well, thankfully the angry ex-chicken-fryer's revelation has given us the opportunity to put an ethical twist on the oh-so-naughty finger lickin’ dish. Since we’re in the middle of the pheasant season we wanted to see if the recipe translated from KFC to KFP. We’re pleased to say it most definitely does.


Here’s “our” recipe using two pheasants we brought home from a small Dorset shoot last weekend. The original spice mix apparently includes mono-sodium glutamate (MSG) a flavour enhancer which we decided to forgo. We’ve tweaked the list a little more and, since pheasant has a tendency to dry out, marinading in milk gives it the required extra succulence.


Homemade KFC/KFP


Ingredients


1 teaspoon dried oregano

1 teaspoon cayenne pepper

1 teaspoon dried sage

1 teaspoon dried basil

1 teaspoon mustard powder

1 teaspoon black pepper

1 teaspoon paprika

1 teaspoon cumin

1 teaspoon garlic powder

2 teaspoons salt


4 pheasant breasts, halved (you can also use a jointed whole pheasant or free range chicken)

250g plain white flour

1/2pt whole milk

1 egg


Method


Marinade the pheasant in milk for two hours. When you're ready to cook, heat your oven to 200C. Mix the herbs, spices and flour together in a mixing bowl. Remove the pheasant breasts from the milk and pat dry with kitchen towel. Lightly beat the egg in a second bowl. Now, dip each piece of breast meat first into the egg and then into the spiced flour. (You can work in batches dipping and coating three or four pieces at a time as long as there is space in the flour bowl to move the pieces around and ensure they all get a good coating). Heat 6 tbsp of oil in a frying pan - enough to cover the base. Shallow fry the meat pieces on a high heat for 2 minutes on each side until the coating is golden brown. (Fry in batches if the pan is too crowded). Now transfer the chicken pieces to a baking tray and bake in the oven for 20 minutes until the meat is cooked through. Allow to cool for a minute or two before serving with coleslaw and beans. (Plating up in a big bucket is optional).



By Well Seasoned, Oct 31 2017 12:40PM

Earlier in the month, I hinted at a fantactic recipe Russ has been working on for the game season. This month's edition of Just About Dorset has just been published so we can reveal the recipe - a truly mouthwatering Buttermilk Partridge Burger.


Check out pages 24 to 25 of this month's Just About Dorset.


With feathered game prices at an all time low, it's definitely time to get stuck in. Enjoy!

By Well Seasoned, Oct 30 2017 05:27PM

The annual pumpkin harvest must be one of the most logistically impressive and wasteful of our entire farming year. For one night only, the bulbous orange squash becomes the country’s favourite vegetable.


Granted, these days Halloween seems to stretching over the course of several days, to cover the weekends either side but it’s still one of the biggest boom and busts we witness on a vast and annual basis. In order to cram the shops full at exactly the right time – too soon or too late means disaster – pumpkin farming is a masterclass in both scientific endeavour and military organisation.


This year, as with every other, some 20,000 tonnes of pumpkin flesh will be scraped into bins before the nation gorges on mini Mars bars and Haribo. It’s a criminal waste particularly since pumpkins are so versatile and easy to cook with.


So, before you bin the seeds or the flesh from your spectacularly spooky creation, why not resolve to have a go at one (or both) of these. If nothing else, the dentist will thank you for it:


Roasted Pumpkin Seeds


This one is so simple, it doesn’t’ really count as a recipe.


Clean any stringy flesh from your pumpkin seeds and pat dry.

Spread the seeds in a single layer on a baking tray.

Pour over a good glug of vegetable oil, sprinkle with some coarse grain salt and a couple of teaspoons of smoked paprika.

Roast for 15 minutes at 180C until the seeds are golden brown and crisp.


A horribly handy Hallowe'en party nibble.


Spiced Pumpkin Cake


This one does count as a recipe but someone else’s. It’s delicious. My one added recommendation is to squeeze some of the moisture from your pumpkin if you have a particularly wet one. If you don’t the middle will take much longer to cook, leaving the edges too dry.




By Well Seasoned, Oct 13 2017 11:31AM

The partridge season started back in September and the pheasants joined them on 1 October. Both seasons run throughout winter to the end of January.


Last week I was in Salisbury talking to a gamekeeper of one of the small local shoots. I asked him whether things had improved for game suppliers in recent years given the increased interest in cooking and eating game. Surely with the likes of Tom Kerridge, Hugh F-W and Tom Kitchin all doing sterling work to promote game, the shoots would now be getting a decent price for the birds they produce? His answer shocked me. I was used to hearing that shoots were paid 50p to £1 for good quality birds “in the feather”. That number has apparently reduced to just 25p and, in some cases, the game dealers will do nothing more than take the birds away for free. In percentage terms, it’s a massive cut in price and, at worst, suggests there simply isn’t any market for the birds.


Less than 25p for a free-range, tasty bird that makes the perfect meal for one when a free range chicken in my local butchers is being sold for £15. What on earth is going on?


I’m afraid to say the problem seems to be one of over-supply. There are simply too many birds being produced meaning that, whatever the increased enthusiasm for game meat, there’s too much to go around. The temptation from some quarters will be, I’m sure, to blame “greedy toffs” (the Daily Mail’s go-to description for anyone who owns land) selling too much shooting to too many fat cats (ditto for anyone who pays to shoot) but I am sure the issue is more nuanced than that.


For many small farmers, shooting provides vital income which, as they are squeezed to provide ever-cheaper food and milk, is essential to ensure they stay in business. To me, the key problem is that the main income from shooting comes from those who pay to shoot, rather than to eat, the birds. A team of Guns could pay up to £750 pounds each for a day’s shooting where maybe 250-300 birds will be shot. But having paid all of that money, they will probably only take home a pair (brace) each for dinner. The rest will go to the game dealers, essentially as a by-product. So, in the hope of propping up a failing business, where farms are already forced to sell meat and milk at a loss to the supermarkets, millions of birds are being produced where the primary market is to shoot them rather than eat them. What an absurd state of affairs.


In my view, the solution is for shoots to (voluntarily) limit the number of birds they shoot in a day and focus instead on providing hospitality and a great day out in the countryside that people are prepared to pay for, regardless of the number of birds in the bag at the end of the day. Put it another way, if they keep producing more and more birds to the point that there is no market and the meat simply goes to waste rather than entering our food chain, the days for game shooting in this country will be numbered. Even as a fan of game and shooting, I’d find it impossible to justify, nor would I want to.


Economists would, I’m sure, be able to propose a win-win solution where people pay a bit more to shoot fewer birds which are then sold for a little more. But that analysis is best left to someone else with better qualifications than my B in GCSE maths. For the time being, however, the upshot is that there are loads and loads of really good quality gamebirds out there RIGHT NOW and we should all be eating them.


In his latest piece for Just About Dorset, Russell has produced a mouth-watering game dish that will be a hit with everyone, but I’d especially recommended it to anyone looking for an easy introduction to the tasty, exciting and undeniably good value world of game. I can’t reveal what the recipe is just yet, but keep an eye on the blog and get ready to be hungry...


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