Wild and Seasonal Eating: Augustby Robert Gooch August 04 2018
The first of August marks the start of the hare season while the grouse season famously begins on the Glorious Twelfth, when gardens are full of tasty ripe accompaniments… August is also a great month for fish and we’ve got some fresh ideas for our smoked haddock and an underused British classic, kippers.
We’re very fortunate that hare is abundant here in coastal Suffolk. With such large numbers thriving on arable farms near us, we’re able to supply hare from a stable local source from the beginning of August through to February. While rich and gamey hare is often cooked in a casserole during the winter (especially as classic jugged hare), it also lends itself well to lighter summer recipes. Try our peppered hare loin with goat’s cheese recipe, an ideal summer supper served on a bed of lettuce leaves with some new potatoes. The haunches require slow cooking to tenderise the meat but the delicate loin fillets from the saddle are best flash fried and eaten rare. You can also cook hare on the barbecue – as Philippa Davis illustrates with this recipe for pigeon kebabs with hare and rosemary from The Field.
The grouse season may officially begin on 12 August but it takes a little while longer before the birds are readily available. Still, that doesn’t stop us planning how to cook them when they finally arrive.
You’ll find a range of seasonal grouse recipes on our website, including summer grouse ratatouille. This colourful ratatouille is a wonderful way to combine the inimitable flavour of grouse with the bounty of your own garden or local producers’, being made with tomatoes, aubergines, courgettes, peppers, peas and pea shoots.
If you’ve a bumper crop of herbs in your garden such as parsley, chives or chervil, you could also try our recipe for grouse with herby spelt risotto. If you also have plenty of lettuce, a side salad is a perfect accompaniment.
Chris’s MSC-accredited smoked haddock is sourced from Peterhead and seine-caught in the North Sea before being smoked over oak. This beautifully flavoured fish is sublime with summer salads, such as this smoked haddock & chorizo salad (which we love with our Spanish wild boar chorizo) or with tomato-based dishes such as smoked haddock with tomatoes & chive dressing.
Smoked kippers may be a breakfast staple but they’re also ideal for tasty suppers, especially in summer when British kippers are at their best. Chris’s kippers are cured and smoked naturally using only smoke and salt and are packed with beneficial omega 3.
If you enjoy foraging, now’s the time to forage for fruit. If you live in the north or west, hunt for bilberries (also known as whinberries or blueberries or blaeberries, although not at all the same as farmed blueberries). The grouse moors are a prime spot for bilberries: the grouse’s diet of heather and bilberries creates its sweet and complex flavour. Serving bilberries with grouse helps to accentuate this game bird’s wonderful flavour. Try adding a handful of bilberries to a port sauce made with the cooking juices as Marx Hix does in his recipe for grouse with blaeberries.
Rowan berries are another fruit that grows on grouse moors and can be made into a delicious slightly bitter jelly to serve with roasted grouse or other game meats or birds. The rowan tree is a native species also known as the mountain ash. Moorlands are its natural habitat but it’s also a common feature in many gardens and streets, where it was once planted to ward off witches! The berries are bitter and inedible when raw but are a wonderful accompaniment for game when made into a jelly with apples. We like The Spruce Eat’s recipe for traditional rowan berry jelly, made with 4 lb of rowan berries and 3 lb of peeled, cored and chopped cooking apples (as well as around 1 lb of white sugar).
If you live elsewhere, hunt out mulberries or much easier to find blackberries to create mouthwatering sauces to serve with wild or free-range meats.
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.