Monday, 26 December 2011

On the second day of Christmas . . . the partridge but not the tree

I know the bird thing is meant to be the first day of Christmas but somehow I got it in my head that the twelve days start on December 26. I was wrong, of course. 

(The truth - the embarrassing truth - is that I took that Boxing Day start from iTunes. That's when you start getting free stuff from iTunes that you might or might not want. Today is some Coldplay stuff. I've downloaded it and will listen to it, just as I listen to Coldplay stuff again and again - without ever being able to remember I've listened to it.)

So, let's say yesterday was the first of my twelve days and so I gave you a list of what I think you might want to listen to this season. And today . . .

That partridge. Pheasant, too. And woodcock even. Everyone should eat them. The perfect meal for these straightened times. Honestly. That's not just from a comfortable north London perspective.

I always liked to eat game but it's only recently that I realised just how cheap it is.  I was buying a couple of pheasants in the local farmers market (please, no correspondence about the absence of an apostrophe in farmers - that solution is as good as any). I saw I was only paying six quid or so for a brace - as we gamers choose to refer to a couple/pair/two. That is certainly cheaper than a decent chicken. I'm not talking organic, that's so much hogwash. But I am talking about a bird that hasn't been subjected to extreme rendition and then kept, for its thankfully all too short life, in avian Guantanamo.

Partridge are little pricier and woodcock even more. But still  . . . these are bargains. (Though not if you buy them in, say, St John's Wood High St where they stick the arm in and price them up to six quid each. My guess is they make in the region of four pounds fifty profit a bird. Nice region, to paraphrase De Niro in Midnight Run - or rather George Gallo who wrote the movie.)

So . . . high-protein, low-fat, free-range and cheap. To the purchaser, anyway. A friend of mine who 'shoots' tells me the 'real' cost of these birds is maybe thirty quid. That is what it costs 'guns' in 'syndicates' - love the gangster language, don't you.

Again then . . . not just good for you and the bird and cheap but also subsidised by the rich and gun-happy among us. Not just a trifecta but a quadrafecta. A quintafecta, if you reckon game tastes as great as I do. Even if you don't like game, you could always consider eating it as an act of class revenge. Take that, you wanker banker, you could say, as you slice off some nice rare pheasant breast or scoop some lentils out with your junipery partridge.

So, as Swift was kind of on the right track when he proposed eating children as a solution to the Irish famine, if he were around now I think he'd join me in suggesting a resolution to the current unemployment and obesity thing. Another paraphrase: qu'ils mangent du perdrix. 

Oh and sprats, too. You can feed a family of five on a kilo of those.

But, I hear you say, I don't know how to cook game. Here's the secret. There is no secret. You put the birds in a hot oven for half an hour. You take them out. Sure, you can do other stuff. Add salt and pepper and some herbage. Protect the breast with bacon or foil. Leave them to sit for five minutes. But that'll do. Heat, eat.

With? Lentils or barley. Same thing. Boil and drain will do. Add salt, pepper, fried onion, diced carrots/celery, thyme or other herbs, stock - even better. 

Sprats? Dust in flour. Fry in oil. Take out. Eat. Add lemon juice, paprika or dip in mayonnaise.

Food and recipes, that's  just what you need today of all days, right?

See you tomorrow.

1 comment:

Lo Jardinier said...

Yum. Yum. I could continue.. Just want to suggest: pot-roast, with a fennel or mushroom risotto.
There's a wine domaine in the village called 'Canteperdrix' and I see them all the time in the vines, but never in the boucherie - someone knows how good they are and is hanging on to them. I resolve to track them down.