A Tasting of Game
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    Serves 6 as a starter or light lunch
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This dish is possibly the one that gave the British Larder its real identity. I’m not particularly fond of the term ‘signature dish’, but if the glove fits… Once this dish was created and served, we had customers returning regularly to enjoy it time and again. That was when we knew we’d established the style of food we wanted to be serving, and it was a pretty special moment. This dish has been such a success that when the game season of that first year came to an end, we were almost slightly lost. For days we debated about what the ‘summer version’ was going to be. In the end, we came up with our ‘pork tasting’, which follows the same formula, and fortunately it became just as popular. The idea of the dish is to make up a platter with small morsels of gamey goodness and serve part of it hot and part cold. To complete this dish, you will need to add the Cauliflower and Shallot Piccalilli. You will need to start this recipe at least 1 day before you want to serve it, to allow the terrine time to set. photo of A Tasting of Game

Ingredients & Method

For the game terrine

  • 1 ham hock (about 1.2kg with bone)
  • 2 mallard duck legs (100–120g each)
  • 1 clove garlic, crushed
  • a large sprig of fresh thyme, leaves only, finely chopped
  • 2 mallard duck breasts (120–140g each)
  • 1 teaspoon unsalted butter
  • 50g horn of plenty mushrooms (trompette de la mort), brushed clean and finely chopped
  • 50g Savoy cabbage, finely shredded
  • 3 leaves of gelatine
  • sea salt and freshly cracked black pepper

For the venison Scotch eggs

  • 3 eggs
  • 300g venison sausages
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh mixed soft herbs (such as parsley, chervil and chives)
  • 1 tablespoon plain flour, seasoned with salt and pepper
  • 1–2 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 150g fresh breadcrumbs or Panko breadcrumbs
  • sunflower oil, for deep-frying

For the partridge, prune and bacon sausages

  • 50g dried stoned prunes, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons Armagnac
  • 1 oven-ready partridge (about 250g)
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 100g Cumberland sausagemeat
  • 1 banana shallot, finely diced
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh mixed soft herbs (such as parsley, chervil and chives)
  • 6 rashers smoked streaky bacon, cut in half widthways
  • 200g Puy lentils

For the potted wild rabbit

  • 4 wild rabbit legs (380–400g total weight)
  • sea salt and freshly cracked black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon sunflower oil
  • a large sprig of fresh thyme,
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 clove crushed garlic
  • 1 litre chicken stock
  • 7 teaspoon goose fat, melted
  • 2 finely diced banana shallots
  • 1 crushed clove garlic
  • 1 teaspoon finely chopped fresh thyme leaves
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped gherkins
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped capers,
  • 6 drops of Tabasco sauce
  • 1/2 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce

To allow the terrine time to set, you will need to start a day in advance. For the game terrine, place the ham hock in a large saucepan, cover with plenty of cold water, place a lid on the pan, then bring to the boil over a high heat. Once boiling, remove the lid and remove any scum from the surface with a ladle. Reduce the heat to low and simmer the ham, uncovered, for about 31/2 hours or until the meat falls away easily from the bone (you may need to occasionally top up the water).

Remove from the heat and leave the ham to cool in the stock for 1 hour. Remove the ham from the stock and flake the cooked meat into a bowl. Pass the stock through a fine sieve, then measure out 250ml. Place the measured quantity of stock in a small saucepan, bring to the boil and keep hot (see Cook’s Notes).

Meanwhile, while the ham is cooling in the stock, cook the mallard duck legs and breasts. Preheat the oven to 160°C/Gas Mark 3 and line a 14 x 4 x 5cm terrine mould with a double layer of cling film, then place the mould in the fridge. Place the duck legs on a baking tray and rub in the garlic, thyme and salt and pepper. Cook in the oven for 30–35 minutes or until the duck is cooked and the meat comes away easily from the bone. Remove from the oven and leave to cool for 20 minutes, then remove and discard the skin and flake the meat into a small bowl. Set aside until the ham is ready. Increase the oven temperature to 200°C/Gas Mark 6.

Heat a non-stick frying pan over a high heat until hot, then add the duck breasts, fat-side down, and cook for about 5 minutes or until the fat is golden brown and crisp. Remove from the heat and transfer the duck breasts to a roasting tin, fat-side up. Roast in the oven for about 6 minutes for medium-rare (or cook to your liking). Remove from the oven and let the duck breasts rest for 10 minutes. Once rested, cut the breasts lengthways into 1cm strips.

Melt the butter in a non-stick frying pan and once it starts to foam, add the mushrooms and cabbage and sauté over a high heat for about 5 minutes or until softened. Remove from the heat and drain on kitchen paper.

Soak the gelatine in cold water until it has softened, then squeeze it gently to remove excess water. Add the gelatine to the measured hot ham stock and stir until dissolved, then set aside to cool for 10 minutes.

Assemble the terrine by ladling a third of the ham stock into the mould. Place a layer of the flaked ham on top, followed by a few strips of the duck breast, then a layer of the mushroom and cabbage mixture, then a layer of the flaked duck leg meat. Add another third of the stock and repeat the layers until all the layering ingredients are used up and the terrine mould is full to the top. Fold the overhanging cling film over to cover completely and place the mould on a baking tray. Place a few light weights on top to press the terrine down, then chill in the fridge overnight.

The next day, prepare the potted wild rabbit, Preheat the oven to 160°C/Gas Mark 3. Season the rabbit legs with sea salt and freshly cracked black pepper. Heat oil in a casserole until hot, then add the seasoned rabbit legs and cook over a high heat for about 3 minutes on each side or until golden brown. Add the fresh thyme, bay leaves,  crushed garlic and stock. Bring the stock to the boil and boil for 4 minutes, then remove from the heat. Cover the pan with a lid, then transfer to the oven and cook for about 1 hour or until the rabbit is tender. Remove from the oven and leave to cool in t he stock for 30 minutes.

While the rabbit is cooling, heat 1 teaspoon goose fat in a small saucepan. Add diced banana shallots and garlic, then cover the pan and sweat over a low heat for 8–10 minutes or until soft and transparent. Remove from the heat. Drain the rabbit legs, reserving the stock (you can either cool, then freeze the stock in a covered freezer proof container for up to 3 months, or store it in an airtight container in the fridge and use within 3 days). Flake the rabbit meat into a mixing bowl (discard the bones). Add the cooked shallots, thyme, chopped gherkins, finely chopped capers, Tabasco sauce, Worcestershire sauce, 3 tablespoons melted goose fat and salt and pepper and mix well. Divide the mixture evenly between six small glass serving jars, packing it in well using the back of a spoon. Chill in the fridge for 30 minutes. Melt 3 tablespoons goose fat and pour it on top of the chilled rabbit mixture, dividing it evenly between the jars. Return the potted rabbit to the fridge for a further 30 minutes before serving (the potted rabbit will keep in the fridge for up to 3 days).

Next prepare the venison Scotch eggs. Cook the eggs in a covered saucepan of boiling water for 6–7 minutes, then remove the eggs using a slotted spoon and place them in a bowl of iced water to cool them quickly. Once cold, peel the eggs carefully.

Meanwhile, remove the skins from the venison sausages, place the sausagemeat in a bowl with the herbs and mix well. Divide and shape the mixture into 3 equal balls. Press each ball of venison mixture flat, place a peeled boiled egg in the centre of each one and then wrap the venison mixture around the egg, enclosing each egg completely. Place the balls on a plate and chill in the fridge for 10 minutes.

Put the seasoned flour, beaten eggs and breadcrumbs into 3 separate shallow bowls. First, roll a venison-covered egg in the seasoned flour, tapping off the excess flour, then roll it in the beaten egg and then finally in the breadcrumbs, making sure it is evenly coated all over. Repeat this process with the other 2 venison-covered eggs. Return to the plate and chill in the fridge for 15–20 minutes to rest and firm up.

Meanwhile, prepare the partridge, prune and bacon sausages. Preheat the oven to 180°C/Gas Mark 4. Put the prunes into a small bowl, pour over the Armagnac and leave to soak for 10–15 minutes. In the meantime, place the partridge in a roasting tin, season with salt and pepper and rub all over with 1 tablespoon olive oil. Roast in the oven for about 30 minutes or until the skin is golden brown and the meat is tender. Remove from the oven and leave to rest for 10 minutes. Remove the legs and breasts and discard their skin, then remove the meat from the bones. Flake the leg and breast meat into a bowl, then add the soaked prunes, along with the sausagemeat, shallot and herbs. Mix well, then add salt and pepper to taste.

Divide the sausage mixture into 12 equal balls, then roll each one into a sausage shape, about 2cm in diameter. Wrap a piece of bacon around each sausage, securing the ends together with a wooden cocktail stick. Place the sausages on a baking tray and cook in the oven at 180°C/Gas Mark 4 for 12–15 minutes or until the sausages are cooked and brown and the bacon is crisp. Remove from the oven and keep warm until you are ready to serve.

While the sausages are cooking, put the Puy lentils in a saucepan and cover with cold water. Bring up to a gentle simmer over a medium heat and cook, uncovered, for 15–20 minutes or until the lentils are cooked and tender. Add a pinch of salt towards the end of the cooking time. Drain the lentils, then add the remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil and salt and pepper to taste and mix well. Set aside and keep warm.

When you are ready to serve, finish the venison Scotch eggs. Heat some sunflower oil in an electric deep-fat fryer or in a deep frying pan to a temperature of 160°C (or until a small piece of bread browns within 20 seconds in the hot oil). Once the oil is hot enough, deep-fry the breadcrumbed eggs in the hot oil for 6–7 minutes or until cooked, golden brown and crisp all over. Using a slotted spoon, remove and drain the cooked eggs on kitchen paper. Cut each venison Scotch egg in half just before serving.

To serve, cut the terrine into 6 generous slices and place on serving plates or simply place on a wooden board or platter. Place the potted rabbit jars on the plate. Place half a venison Scotch egg on each plate, then spoon a portion of the warm lentils alongside the egg and top with 2 partridge sausages. Serve immediately with the piccalilli on the side.

Cook’s Notes

The leftover ham stock will keep for up to 3 days in the fridge and for up to 3 months in the freezer. (The total amount of ham stock you make will depend on the size of pan you use and how much water you add.)photo of A Tasting of Game