Family, Food and Drink

I’m Game!

Well, not really. Ever since the very small me used to sit on the throne in the outside loo** at home in England, staring at the beady eyes of the pheasants, or partridges, or rabbits, glaring back at me from where Dad had hung them to–whatever it is one “hangs” game to do–I’ve never really cottoned to the idea of eating them.

Not that I’m a weenie, I don’t think. I mean, I’m the granddaughter of a butcher who rose to manage S. Ward, Ltd–Ham and Bacon curers, Melton Pork Pie and Cambridge Sausage Makers, 222 Broad St., Birmingham, and I’ve plucked chickens and ducks with the best of them. And Dad, who had the family genes in spades regularly cured hams in the garage in the Pittsburgh suburb where I went to high school, quite often filled the fridge up with pressed meats (tongue, anyone?) and sausages that he’d made, and once boiled a pig’s head almost to a pulp on the kitchen stove in order to concoct the centerpiece at a large Hogmanay party we attended one year.

But “game” as such has never really appealed to me. I don’t object on principle to hunting, although I don’t like the “sport” of baiting deer onto a piece of land and then sitting in a blind and shooting them like fish in a barrel. Somehow, that doesn’t seem like hunting to me. And I think you should, if at all possible, eat what you kill, or make sure someone else does.

I will say that I’ve occasionally enjoyed some very fine venison chili brought in by my coworkers who indulged themselves at certain times of the year. But I keep hearing that venison is too lean, and has to be cooked a certain way to make it tender (then there’s that whole Bambi’s mother thing), just as I know that duck is too fat, and so that has to be accounted for in the cooking as well (I do love a nice Duck a l’Orange).

So today I’m asking for your best advice on cooking all sorts of game, and your recipe suggestions, when game is on the menu.

**The outside loo wasn’t an unusual thing in the Britain in which I grew up, and wasn’t an indicator of poor circumstances or inadequate sanitation. Usually, the room was attached to the house, had a door entered from the outside, and was in the fenced in, or walled-in, “yard.” There was an inside loo as well, which was either part of the bathroom or in a small room adjacent. I’ve never investigated to find if the outside preceded the indoor on the time scale, as by the time I came along, both of them were plumbed in with the rest of the house. But most houses seemed to have them, and they were a convenient place for storing the sorts of things used in British mystery stories for offing one of the main characters (poisons, sharp implements, impermeable materials, etc.), and for hanging game, although I expect the health and safety “authorities” of the EU have probably had something to say about that by now.

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