If you have never bought game before it can be very intimidating, everyone has different advice about when certain games birds are at their best, how long game should be hung for and how it is best to cook it.
The best piece of advice I could give someone thinking of cooking game for the first time, or maybe even wanting to cook different game birds or cuts than they normally do is to find yourself a good trust worthy game dealer or butcher. This may sound like passing the buck, but remember these guys deal with game everyday and they will no when it is good, how long it should be hung and will give you sound advice on the best way to cook your game.
Here are a few tips on buying game -
- When cooking for other people remember one persons love can be another persons hate, especially where game is concerned.
- Get to know your seasons. Certain game is only available at certain times of the year. Best way to find out abouth this is to trust your friend the butcher, they will tell you what is available and good.
- The younger a piece of game is the lighter the flavour will be. Many game cuts are hung for varying periods of time to improve their flavour. Most customers today like game to be hung for two weeks (14 day-hung).
- When buying a whole game bird or rabbit, look at the eyes and feathers. If the eyes are clear and the feathers (and fur) are plush and "in bloom". This is a good way to make sure they haven't been frozen.
- When game is wrapped in cling-film, it will ‘sweat’. The smell when you open it may not be too nice and some people think it’s rotten. It isn’t. If you remove it from the plastic, quickly rinse and pat dry, then put it on a plate and cover it lightly with a bowl.
- Traditionally game birds come with the offal – their liver and heart – still inside. These can be used to make gravy or serve it alongside on toast, the old-fashioned way.
- Treat game like any other meat and consume it within a couple of days of purchase.
- At the start of the game season, prices are very high. They will come down, so it’s worth waiting a few weeks and you will get better value for money.
- The most important tip again that can't be mentioned enough. Buy from a good game dealer or butcher. They have the knowledge, the experience and a good dealer/ butcher will stock wonderful quality game.
- Get your dealer/butcher do all the hard work – they will do all the skinning, plucking and gutting – for you. Many good dealers/ butchers will sell oven-ready birds and joints.