Seasonal Eating Ideas: Julyby Annabel Warne July 09 2018
Gardens, hedgerows and woodlands provide rich picking in July. Combine foraged mushrooms with wood pigeon, wild venison or rabbit for seasonal dishes that are 100% wild and 100% delicious or raid the garden for a feast with summer fruits or vegetables.
Cherries and berries
The juicy flesh of cherries and berries is one of the great delights of July. We love them cooked up into fragrant sweet sauces to drizzle over wild meat. Their sweetness balances game’s rich, earthy flavours for a truly exceptional meal.
At their peak in the middle of the month, British cherries are sweeter, fresher and juicier than any of their imported cousins, which have to be picked before properly ripe. If you’ve got into the swing of game salads, try adding some halved cherries for a fresh pop of flavour. Try pan-fried or barbecued fillets of wood pigeon, partridge or pheasant with cherries, mixed salad leaves and chopped cucumber and a dressing of olive oil, honey, red wine vinegar and Dijon mustard.
Blackcurrants, meanwhile, are incredible with venison and wild duck. Try the Blackcurrant Foundation’s recipe for warm venison salad with blackcurrant dressing or Matt Tebbutt’s recipe for wild duck with blackcurrant and cassis sauce.
British blueberries and raspberries are also in season and delicious with game. You can’t go wrong with Jamie Oliver’s recipe for pan-seared venison with blueberries, shallots and red wine. We’re also very partial to the raspberry vinaigrette in Graham Campbell’s duck breast salad with asparagus, sweet potato, pickled fennel and raspberry vinaigrette recipe. Follow Graham’s recipe in full or just whisk up his simple vinaigrette to drizzle over any game bird breast fillet with a simple leafy salad.
For more ideas for game-based salads take a look at our top ten tips for game meat salads.
Garden harvests with game
If you’ve been busy in the garden, your rewards this month include full-flavoured tomatoes and fresh and shiny courgettes with immaculate courgette flowers.
Homegrown or locally bought tomatoes are unbeatable in salads or burgers: try our homemade cheese filled rabbit and bacon burgers. If you’d like to recreate the flavours of summer holidays in Italy or Greece, rabbit stews made with tomatoes, garlic, wine and herbs, such as this recipe for Ischian rabbit, are wonderful on lazy summer Sundays.
When food writer Xanthe Clay visited the Wild Meat Company in July last year, chef Peter Harrison cooked a fillet of wild Suffolk fallow with polenta and a seasonal salad with grilled courgette and dukkah as part of his wild venison masterclass. Nichola Fletcher’s venison steak with vegetable ribbons also demonstrates just how good venison is with courgette and light summer vegetables.
While a heatwave isn’t good news for fungi foragers, a spell of good old-fashioned Britain rain should get them popping up. Summer delights include chanterelles, widely considered one of the best-flavoured of all wild mushrooms (as well as the prettiest), common field mushrooms and puffballs – which can weigh up to 20kg!
Cook chanterelles and field mushrooms in a pan with butter and herbs as an accompaniment for game bird breasts. Our recipe for warm pheasant salad with wild mushroom dressing combines chanterelles and other wild mushrooms with nectarines, watercress and pheasant breast fillets for the perfect balance of sweetness and earthiness. For a simple wood pigeon recipe, try our wood pigeon salad with wild mushrooms & Madeira vinaigrette.
Giant puffballs are one-of-a-kind mushrooms that are one of the safest to forage because no other British mushroom – poisonous or edible – grows nearly as large. If you think you have found a smaller common puffball mushroom, however, it is important to carefully cut it in half from top to bottom to check that the inside is pure white without any patterns, marks or gills. If it is, congratulations! If not, discard it and wash your hands because it could in fact be something poisonous.
If you can’t find a puffball, don’t despair. You can buy spores for edible puffballs and grow your own in the garden to amaze your friends and family!
Once you’ve got one, we recommend Mark Hix’s rabbit and girolles on grilled puffball (with or without the offal). We also love River Cottage’s puffburger recipe, which is fried in bacon fat. Just make sure you use high quality bacon, such as Blythburgh free range streaky bacon, so there is no water in the pan with the fat.
Share your seasonal dishes
If you’ll be cooking up any of our seasonal ideas or have some wild seasonal recipe ideas of your own, we’d love to see your photos and hear your recommendations! Please share them with us via our Facebook page, Twitter or Instagram.