Are you game? The best, most humane, seasonal and good value kind of meat is now in season.
I think we meat eaters need to make a choice these days. Do we want to back the non-sustainable, environmentally hostile and cruel meat production that puts cheap chops on our plates? Or do we want to support good farmers and husbandry producers whose animals roam free range, peck and snuffle, roll in the mud or graze on magic mushrooms. The latter option means infinitely better quality meat, more nutritious, tastier and obviously ethically superior, but it comes at a high price. I know what I choose: to have meat only occasionally but the most responsibly sourced I can buy.
At this time of year there is a third way, a happier medium. Affordable and excellent value, sustainable and benign for the environment, and as ethical as killing animals for meat can get away with being. So this is the time we can gorge on game birds, rabbit and venison.
Partridge is easy to roast, wrapped in bacon, and it’s tender and not too dry. If you get filleted partridge breasts, or find your inner butcher and prepare the birds yourself (better value and the carcass makes great stock), try it pan fried with grilled peppers.
Pheasant is a tougher bird so if it’s not to your taste roasted (slightly on the dry side even if brined), you can braise it, or even make a pheasant meatloaf – totally wonderful.
Then there is pigeon, cheap as chips, pan fried tastes a little like beef. And wild mallards, arguably tastier than farmed ducks.
Guinea fowl is a little dearer but it’s a good option for those not quite enamoured of gamey flavour. Guinea fowl tastes like a great alternative to chicken. With wild mushroom, it will be seasonal and delicious.
And then venison which we should be eating lots of: it’s incredibly nutritious, lighter on calories than other meats and super sustainable. And it can be prepared in so many ways: from posh loin roast with chocolate sauce, through steaks with red wine sauce to a vibrant casserole with mushrooms.
If you think game is not readily available, think again: all major supermarkets including Aldi stock venison, and most also have partridges, guinea fowl and/or pheasant. Plus most butchers and farm shops stock it, both local (which we should support) and online. So no excuse! And happy gaming!