A selection of super tasty, alternative nibbles that will turn any elevenses stop into a highlight of the day.
Elevenses is an integral part of a shoot day – an indelible tradition that is as important to game shooters as chocolate eggs are to children at Easter. And anyone suggesting that they are surplus to requirement, or even in need of modernising, would be deserving of their spot in the gallows.
But that’s not to say that there aren’t alternatives to honey and mustard sausages, pork pies and sloe gin. Indeed, elevenses are the perfect occasion to celebrate Britain’s finest produce, from our glorious game to the bounty of our hedgerows. So, we asked some of the UK’s finest foragers, champion chefs and fastidious foodies for their favourite mid-morning mouthfuls.
Pheasant sausage rolls
When we asked the Countryside Alliance’s Game-to-Eat campaigner Jack Knott for his favourite elevenses recipes, knowing full well that this man has eaten and experimented with more game than most, we were unsurprisingly bombarded with an array of clever gamey twists on simple classics. This recipe, however simple, was at the top of his list for its deliciousness and functionality – one you simply must try. Jack also suggested another favourite treat of his – cold game pie with Branston pickle. “At my local shoot, the gamekeeper’s wife cooks up a mixed game pie with all the varieties shot the week before. It’s so good it is probably the main reason I go beating!” he laughs. “She won’t give me the original recipe, yet, but there is a delicious variation available on our website.”
250g pheasant breast (minced)
100g chorizo (minced)
½ an onion (thinly diced)
1 carrot (thinly grated)
1 tbsp crushed chillies
1 tbsp coriander
1 tbsp parsley (chopped)
1 tbsp thyme
2 cloves of garlic (crushed)
500g pre-rolled puff pastry
➤ Preheat the oven to 175ºC.
➤ In a large bowl, mix all the ingredients together except for the puff pastry and one of the eggs.
➤ Flour a work surface, lay the pre-rolled pastry out and sprinkle a small amount of flour on the top side. Place the mixture evenly in a long sausage shape down the middle of the pastry.
➤ Beat the remaining egg and brush it over the remaining exposed pastry.
➤ Roll the pastry over the mixture, into the rough shape and size of a large Swiss roll.
➤ Brush the outside of the pastry with the remaining egg and and place onto a baking tray and into the oven.
➤ Cook for 30 minutes or until cooked through.
➤ Rest, slice and serve warm or cold.
Boozy blackberry flapjacks
Regular Fieldsports photographer and country sports enthusiast, Kay Thompson is well-known for her dangerously good homebrews made from fruit foraged from the hedgerows and fields around her home near Cirencester, as well as her irresistible home baking. Although she assures us that both of her recipes are a doddle to make, they do come with a warning: consume responsibly as both are menacingly moreish.
100g brown sugar
4 tbsp golden syrup
250g rolled oats
40g alcohol-infused blackberries
➤ Preheat the oven to 180ºC or gas mark 4.
➤ Heat the butter, brown sugar and golden syrup in a saucepan until it reaches boiling point.
➤ Add the oats and blackberries and mix thoroughly. Pour onto a 2–3cm-deep, 20cm baking tin lined with baking parchment and bake for 30 minutes or until the top is golden.
➤ Cut into small, two-bite-sized rectangles and leave to cool before removing from the tin.
Kay’s cherry plum vodka
1 litre of premium vodka
500g cherry plums
250g caster sugar
➤ Diligently prick the cherry plums with a clean needle and place in a large Kilner jar.
➤ Pour in the sugar and vodka, seal tightly and shake thoroughly.
➤ Store in a cool, dark cupboard and shake daily for the first week, then once a week for at least two months.
➤ Strain the liquid through muslin into a sterilised bottle and label.
One of the most fashionable names in the game food industry at the moment is Eat Wild, founded by the Thompson brothers, Calum and Will. Both are keen country sportsmen who set up their first restaurant in Cirencester just last year and have already established an enviable reputation for their modern twists on classic game dishes. Here they share one of their popular restaurant and in-the-field favourites – pheasant popcorn.
4 pheasant breasts mixed with British pork mince at a ratio of 2:1
1 cup plain flour
½ cup polenta
1 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp cayenne pepper
1 tsp dried marjoram
1 tsp dried basil
1 tsp dried sage
2 tsp salt
1 tsp black pepper
1 tsp paprika
1 tsp smoked paprika
1 tsp garlic (crushed)
½ tsp icing sugar
½ tsp bicarbonate of soda
1 litre soda water
➤ Season the pheasant and pork mixture with salt and pepper. Form into small grape-sized balls and lightly coat with plain flour.
➤ Combine the dry ingredients in a mixing bowl, gently adding the soda water in stages. Mix thoroughly to ensure a light, fizzy batter.
➤ Once the mixture has reached a slightly thicker than pancake batter consistency, add the pheasant balls, coating thoroughly before deep frying in oil at about 160–170ºC.
➤ The balls take 2–3 minutes to cool, and should be drained and seasoned with salt and pepper.
Boats & sloes cocktail
20ml sloe gin
20ml potato-based vodka
10ml triple sec
10ml ginger liqueur
5ml sugar syrup
2 dashes of bitters
An optional sprig of thyme to garnish
Tom Godber-Ford Moore, the man behind the Game Chef, first started his culinary exploration on his father’s shoot in North Wales. After training as a chef, he spent four years cooking in France, Spain and Italy, where he developed a great passion for Mediterranean cuisine. Returning home to the rural way of life, he has applied his broadened culinary repertoire and expertise to British game and venison and now specialises in outstanding shoot day hospitality.
A typical elevenses menu of Tom’s will include game consommé with chilli sherry, pheasant and fennel polpette, Moroccan spiced pheasant goujons, a selection of rillettes and salamis, Bloody Mary spiced partridge burgers, crispy confit partridge legs and sloe gin cured venison bresaola...
4 pheasant breasts (roughly minced)
200g pork (minced)
2 cloves of garlic (finely chopped)
1½ tbsp fennel seeds (toasted, roughly ground)
1 onion (finely chopped)
1 handful of parsley (roughly chopped)
1 large pinch of dried oregano
1 large pinch of chilli flakes
Zest of 1 lemon
For the tomato sauce:
800g chopped tomatoes
4 tbsp sugar
1 tbsp red wine vinegar
1 tsp salt
1 tsp dried chilli flakes
1 tsp fennel seeds (toasted, roughly ground)
1 tsp oregano
1 handful of parsley (roughly chopped)
➤ Put all the ingredients for the tomato sauce (except the parsley) into a pan, cook on a high heat for 10 minutes, stirring frequently.
➤ In a separate pan, sweat the onion with some olive oil until soft. Add the garlic, chilli flakes, ground fennel seeds and fry for a further minute. Add the breadcrumbs and allow to cool.
➤ Mix in all the other ingredients, along with a generous pinch of salt and pepper. Form the mixture into mouthful-sized balls, and fry off until well browned. Transfer into the sauce and cook gently for a further 5 minutes, then stir in the parsley.
Tom’s Bloody Mary spiced partridge burgers
8 partridge breasts (roughly minced)
300g pork (minced)
3 tbsp tomato purée
2 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
1 tbsp vodka
1 tbsp breadcrumbs
1 tsp celery seeds
1 tsp ground black pepper
1 tsp Tabasco sauce
1 tsp salt
➤ Mix all ingredients and form into roughly 20 mini burger patties.
➤ Fry/grill/BBQ for a couple of minutes each side until just cooked through.
➤ Serve with fresh horseradish sauce.
Raisthorpe Manor shoot day cocktails
Proud producers of many award-winning liqueurs, Raisthope Manor have provided a trio of winter snifters and cocktails that will brighten up the dullest shoot morning.
Hot orange cocktail
➤ Add a nub of finely sliced ginger and a 2cm piece of finely sliced red chilli to a bottle of Raisthorpe 9ct Shimmering Blood Orange Vodka Liqueur and allow it to stand for a few days, giving it a regular shake. Pour a 100ml serving over ice and top up with ginger beer.
➤ Alternatively, pour a shot of 9ct Shimmering Blood Orange Vodka Liqueur into a highball glass and top up with ginger beer.
The UK’s first sloe Port and Best New Product of the Year 2012. Using locally picked sloes and the finest Port, they have created a delicious and versatile drink where the smoothness of the Port cuts through the bitter sloes. If you haven’t been able to make your own infusions this year, it would be impossible to go wrong with this beverage. Served best with a good cheese board.
Not only is this drink delightful on its own, it can make fabulously rich gravies and sauces to enhance game dishes.
First Port of Call
50ml Bourbon whiskey
25ml Raisthorpe Damson Port
1 tbsp honey
Dash of Angostura bitters
➤ Combine the Bourbon whiskey, 25ml Raisthorpe Damson Port, honey and bitters in a shaker filled with ice.
➤ Pour into martini glasses and garnish with a twirl of lemon zest.
David & Oliver make an array of fabulous game soups – which are perfect for any wintry day in the field – in exactly the same way that you would make a soup at home. And, like anyone who knows the first thing about soup, David Holliday and Oliver Shute assert that the key ingredient is a top quality stock. But, if you don’t have the time to whip up one of their game soups yourself, they are available from Waitrose.
150g pheasant meat (roughly chopped)
25g red lentils
1 pint game stock
2 cloves garlic (finely chopped)
2 tomatoes (roughly chopped)
1 onion (roughly chopped)
1 carrot (roughly chopped)
1 apple (diced)
1 stick celery (roughly chopped)
1 red chilli (finely chopped)
1 small handful coriander (roughly chopped)
1 tbsp rapeseed oil
1 tsp tomato purée
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp ground coriander
1cm fresh ginger (finely chopped)
½ tsp turmeric
➤ Sweat the onion, carrot and celery in rapeseed oil, then add the pheasant meat and lightly colour.
➤ Add the spices, herbs and garlic and then the tomatoes, stock and lentils, simmering gently until the lentils are cooked.