Wild Eating in Summer

by Robert Gooch July 31 2017

Cucumber sandwiches, mass-produced barbecues and stodgy sausage rolls are never going to cut it for fans of the big flavours of wild meat. For us, eating flavoursome game and wild food in the great outdoors is one of the joys of summer – and we’ve got some great ideas to make this summer the tastiest yet.

Feast on wild meat this summer

With plenty of wild meat options for picnics, garden parties, barbecues and simple summer suppers, there’s no need to settle for underwhelming supermarket fare. Whether you’re looking to impress friends and family or just want something to look forward to at the end of a hot day’s work, we’ve got some fantastic recipes and products to inspire you.

Venison, wild boar, wild rabbit, wood pigeon and squirrel can all be sourced throughout the summer and cooked in a variety of ways, indoors or out. Add frozen game, such as partridge and pheasant, and you’ve got even more possibilities for wild feasting this summer.

Game salads

Balance the lightness and freshness of salad vegetables with deep game flavours for the ultimate summer supper. Roast whole pheasants, partridges, rabbits or squirrels in the oven while you chop up some salad and whisk up a dressing, or poach or pan-fry breasts or venison fillets. Warm salads made with seasonal garden vegetables, such as green beans and broad beans, are also moreish ways to end summer days.

Leftover game is brilliant in salads too. For a meal that’s ready in just a few minutes, mix up a simple dressing with olive oil and red wine or cider vinegar plus a little mustard or horseradish then drizzle this over salad leaves or vegetables and your choice of leftover partridge, pheasant, wild boar or other game. Zesty and creamy dressings made with lemon juice and crème fraiche or sour cream are also particularly good with game birds.

For a thoroughly wild salad, use foraged leaves, fruits and nuts. Look out for chickweed, mallow, yarrow, greater plantain, bilberries, blackberries and hazelnuts in hedgerows and woodlands: they’re all great matches for game.

Serve salads with crusty bread and/or grains such as bulgur wheat, quinoa, spelt or wild rice for a satisfying summer lunch or supper. For more game salad tips and recipes, take a look at our top ten tips for game meat salads.

Perfect wild picnics

If you’re tired of unimaginative picnics, why not pack up some wild meat charcuterie alongside ciabatta or sour dough, cheese, olives, artichoke hearts, stuffed peppers or your favourite antipasti? For a picnic with continental flair, add our venison or wild boar chorizos or air-dried venison sausage.

You could also swap humdrum sandwiches for venison and pomegranate wraps (if you can resist eating them that long) or your own tortilla creations made with leftover game meat, crunchy salad and salsas or slaws.

Sausage rolls are a picnic classic but can be bland if shop-bought. Make yours the star of the spread with our recipe for sloe gin and wild boar sausage rolls. Simple to make, the flavours of either wild venison or wild boar with sloe gin and herbs are a winning combination.

Love crisps but tired of the same old ones? Try Taste of Game crisps, available in two flavours: grouse and whinberry or smoked pheasant and wild mushroom.

Fish suppers

Our smoked fish range, sourced from Chris Wightman of Maximus Fish (based just down the road from us), includes sustainable “coffee cured” smoked Scottish salmon, sweet and oaky Atlantic prawns and crevettes, and fully-traceable smoked MSC haddock from the seine fleet at Peterhead.

There’s nothing like fish, which cooks in just a few minutes, for a swift and healthy summer supper. Poached, baked, fried or fricasseed, Chris’s smoked haddock is a world apart from yellow supermarket smoked fish. Even quicker, his smoked prawns and smoked salmon are delicious eaten cold with a light dip or dressing.

Smoking and barbecues

Game is great on the barbecue, so long as you follow a few golden rules to prevent naturally lean meat drying out. Find out all you need to know about barbecuing game meat here.

Joints of game are also ideal for hot smoking, in which meat is slow cooked at a temperature of around 100C. If you want to try your hand at smoking, you can either buy a specialist kit or get started with a DIY one: you can create one from a large pan, an old cake tin, a metal rack, tin foil and woodchips (oak or apple wood are good choices). The Telegraph’s Xanthe Clay explains more in her guide to food smoking.

Our favourite summer recipes