Manchester chef and restaurant owner Simon Wood (a former Masterchef winner) grew up with game and learned to love it from an early age. We asked him why game means so much to him.
“My earliest memory is my grandma teaching me how to cook Rabbit Stew when I was ten,” he began. “I used to stay with her every weekend. I was amazed that you could actually cook rabbit as we had them as pets at home. It was one of my first fond memories that actually drew me into cooking. “It’s rabbit and that’s what you’re having” she said and I wasn’t bothered at all! I loved it.”
“Game is so unique – the colour, the flavour and where it comes from. I love that it’s wild and full of natural flavour. It is so deliciously different. It deserves respect and you need to be careful how you treat it and buy it.”
We asked Simon what he’s making at the moment.
“Right now I’d say that wood pigeon is my favourite. I love what game offers in terms of inspiration. We do a little game tartlet with confit mallard legs and we use all the offal from the pigeon through that. It has red currants in it for acidity and we dust the top with a fermented red cabbage powder and baby thyme leaves.
“As a garnish we make a lamb bacon out of lamb breast – this is a twist on the classic pigeon and bacon. On the side is a marmite-infused sour dough, then we render the fat out of the lamb fat so it is liquid. We then fold it through the bread sauce to give it a real umami flavour.
“The thing with game is to not be scared of it, just give it a go.”