Seasonal Eating Ideas: Aprilby Robert Gooch April 03 2018
Spring may have been delayed by the Beast from the East this year and the first few days of April have been less than promising. Nonetheless, spring is still determinedly springing in gardens and fields across the country, bringing plenty of new-season ingredients to enjoy with year-round game.
After months of comfort eating to cope with bone-chilling weather, many of us are ready for a change and some lighter, leafier meals. Cue April brassicas, salads and punchy herb butters, which are delicious with venison steaks, wood pigeon breasts and spring wild mushrooms.
Brassicas are rich in vitamin C and high in fibre – just what the doctor ordered after a carbohydrate-heavy winter. They also pair perfectly with the full-flavoured game that’s available all year round and are much more versatile than you may think.
Broccoli is at its best in April, whether you prefer large heads of calabrese or the long, leafy stems of purple sprouting broccoli. If you can find some white sprouting broccoli or have grown your own, this delicate variety is a treat too this month too.
Whichever type of broccoli you have, it can be used in recipes from around the globe. It can be tossed into a saucepan with pasta and served with a pan-fried wood pigeon breast and a quick aglio e olio (garlic and oil sauce) made with foraged wild garlic, which you can find in woodlands for the next couple of months. It can be stir-fried with venison steak and noodles for a super quick Oriental or Southeast Asian dish. Or it can be steamed and served with spring lamb or fish and pommes persillade (potatoes with garlic and parsley) for a taste of France. You’ll have to wait a little longer for Jersey Royals, though, as the weather in January and February means these will be at least three weeks later than usual this year.
Spring greens are another satisfying seasonal accompaniment that is delicious with a drizzle of butter. Serve spring greens on the side of a hearty rabbit casserole, such as Jean-Francois Mallet’s wild rabbit casserole with wild garlic & fresh almonds, which we love with pasta and fresh crusty bread. Or enjoy buttered spring greens with your favourite roast, whether you’re going for wild meat or full-flavoured free-range joints or birds, such as our Alde Valley lamb, Blythburgh pork or Sutton Hoo chicken.
Spring salads and mushrooms
For the days when the temperature hits double figures (and, if you can’t wait for them, the days not far below too), rocket, watercress, radishes and spring onions are coming into their best for punchy spring salads. If you’re in a hurry, a salad and game meal can be ready in less than 5 minutes. The game and salad combination is also one of the best ways to shape up before summer if it’s getting harder to do up those buttons after the long, hard winter…
April is a good month for foragers too, especially for lovers of spring wild mushrooms, which are a match made in heaven for game and full-flavoured meats. St George’s mushroom is usually the first to appear and can be found in grassy fields near trees. Roast it with squirrel, rabbit or game birds. The most prized spring mushroom, however, is the morel, with has a very distinctive wrinkled appearance. Expensive to buy, morels can be found in grass in woodlands. If you can get your hands on some, they are amazing with wood pigeon – simply fry them in oil until brown before adding butter and herbs and serve over pan-fried breast fillets. You might also like to try this recipe from Game-to-Eat for warm pheasant salad with wild mushroom dressing, which can also be made with wood pigeon.
Share your seasonal eats
How will you be making the most of April’s seasonal ingredients and what are you looking forward to in May? Tweet us your seasonal cooking pics or recipe ideas @WildMeatCompany or share them via our Facebook page.