Welcome to the World of the Wild Chef!

I have to admit, it’s been a while since the last entry on my Wild Chef website blog.  I’ve been crazily busy with functions & events, booking game demo’s in for this year (and next!), sorting out the blog for BASC on their new website for their ‘Taste of Game’ page, and lots of new filming with the Cornish country boys Chris Green and Co, and not forgetting some shooting, fishing & gun dog training – all good stuff however!

Now, a little more settled, you’ll be able to follow my journey through the year with lots of new game demonstrations at some fabulous locations around the country & recipes for you to follow at home.  Take a look at my Calendar of Events for 2014 for where l will be demonstrating next, and if you know of a great Country show that’s not listed, just let me know, and I’ll add it to the site.

I think the daily talk has got to be the bad weather we have experienced this winter, from the end of November it all went downhill. The great thing is, Spring is certainly well on its way and with pigeon shooting on the cards, it’s great to be back behind the hide once more. On the pigeons menu here in the Midlands at the moment is rapeseed, clover and ivy berries, and whilst the wood pigeons are still fairly grouped up, I’m not one for chasing them around the fields. The photo below shows you the pigeon mess under most large trees around this 86 acre field of rapeseed I’m shooting on, it’s just like a ‘merry go round’. So, watching the fields with a little patience and a couple of hides shooting, plenty of decoys and not forgetting a crow decoy or two, a couple of Chris greens pigeon floater decoys should put a tidy number in the bag and with it, a happy farmer!

Whilst we are on the subject of woodies, if anybody is heading to the West Country game fair on the 22nd and 23rd of March, l will be demonstrating some new game dishes for BASC in the food hall theatre, and hopefully also putting together some filming ‘live’ with ‘West Country Films’ Chris Green, on the finishing touches to his latest pigeon shooting DVD which is due out at the CLA game fair this summer.  During the same week, I’m also demonstrating game dishes at The Leek Fine Food Fair & The Northern Restaurant & Bar Show in Manchester – busy times!

One of the first of the game shows this year was the ‘Shooting Show’ at Stoneleigh Park Coventry on the 14th -16th Feb with the added benefit of running this event for 3 days, for the first year, this certainly eased the problems of previous years queuing, and the ability to walk around the show more easily.  Good planning, and well done to the organisers!

Moving forward, some great news for the 2015 ‘Shooting Show’, ‘The Field and Rural Life’ John Alison and Co, will be hosting this show. I have been filming with these guys over the last year, cooking up some great game dishes in very scenic parts of the country, as seen on their website. We are now putting together some very interesting projects for this year’s calendar and for next years show, great times ahead & I look forward to working with such a professional team.

My Labrador gundog ‘Tom’ is now 15 months old and the training is going well, although mind destroying at times, but hopefully on schedule with the harvesting in August for some pigeon retrieving. With such a spirited young dog it has taken lots of patience for Tom to ‘stay’ when he sees another dog. Walking to heal has also been a bit tricky at times, although at an early age, maybe walking with the lead was not fully completed before moving on, however that is now slowly coming along. All commands are fine with him ‘staying put’ at over 200yds when whistled and he retrieves great.

I recently watched a DVD on gundog training and could not believe what I was seeing. The 2 year old Labrador gundog in question was like a ‘robot’ not making a single mistake. The point I’m trying to put across is,  great to see a working dog doing everything right, but if the dog had been making mistakes whilst filming, then showing how to correct them surely would be better viewing.  Instead he talked about examples of mistakes and how to correct them.  I believe actually watching the mistakes is all about positive learning.

When at game shows I always make a point to talk to gundog trainers if only to piece together parts to help me in my own training and how I might deal with problems that arise or have some thoughts before they happen, for sure there will be some! I will let you know Toms progress.

If anyone has any personal stories or issues in gundog training and would like to share with others, please either tweet or drop me an email so that I can add the discussion in my next blog, maybe these coud help us all in some way.

I have finally received on the door-mat my shotgun renewal and firearms certificate with the BASC firearms department assistance, ‘cheers lads’!  The Derbyshire firearms officer came out to see me and explained it all very clearly, only took two weeks for it to arrive. Whilst I was at the Shooting Show I got the chance to check out all the new rifles and scopes on offer, love the night vision scopes and now, having seen what is on offer, I know what to buy when the time is right, better to save for the gear I want, than rushing out to buy something I will regret, I will let you know how I get on.

An inaugural BASC ‘Talking & Stalking event was held in January right here in Derbyshire. Lewis Thornley, the guys at BASC and Kelvin from ‘Field and Stream’ in Ashbourne, Derbyshire had organised this informative & very sociable evening.  I talked about ‘freezer management’, and anyone who goes shooting must freeze their quarry at some stage, so we discussed portioning down, marinating with herbs into packs for the coming summer BBQ’s, and stacking the freezer in an orderly fashion all labelled up. It certainly gathered everyone’s attention on the night and something I will touch on in the future.  The evening was a huge success with a great turn out, and the ‘game’ inspired canapés that I had prepared for everyone went down a treat!

There is a sauce that I demonstrate on most shows and one I had invented for Chris Greens DVD’s ‘wildfowling film’ a year ago. I have been asked to put this on my website so I have also appropriately named it ‘Wildfowlers Glaze’, as it can be made quickly, in high winds and snow as I did, and you only need three ingredients and a heat source for it to accompany any game.

For two mad Wildfowlers – you roughly need –

50ml red wine or sloe gin or homebrew silver birch wine!

Two tablespoons redcurrant jelly

25ml of Balsamic glaze

With all the ingredients in a pan, reduce down to a boiling jam consistency (too thick add a little more liquor & too thin reduce a little more on the heat).

Perfect little sauce to accompany any wildfowl in the wild, or in fact on any day regardless of what the weather throws at you, as seen on one of Chris Greens latest DVD’s.

My dish this month is all about spring time, and with the wood pigeon shooting just getting better & better, this dish fits well for an early summer taster.

For those of you who missed this dish at The Shooting Show here is the recipe, so keep those shotguns smoking, and happy days!!

Wood Pigeon with Sundried Pesto sauce with Linguini Pasta

Serves two –

4x Pigeon breasts

A little oil and butter

Equipment for sauce – Pestle & Mortar or small food processor

For the sauce –

50g sundried tomato chopped (sundried tomatoes in oil are best)

1 x small finely chopped onion

2 x stems fresh basil leafs or tarragon leafs chopped

1 x teaspoon wholegrain mustard

50g grated parmesan cheese

25g Pine nuts

1 x teaspoon of Capers

1 x tablespoon Tomato puree

50 ml Rapeseed oil

50 ml white wine

Salt & Peppermill to season

200g Linguini Pasta

A handful of fresh Spinach leafs

Apart from the rapeseed oil & white wine, place all the ingredients for the sauce into either the food processor or the pestle & mortar (whichever you are using)

Crush or mix the ingredients to a paste adding a little salt and peppermill.

Add the Rapeseed oil a little at a time with the white wine, your sauce is complete!

Fill a deep small pan with hot water and a little salt, add the Pasta then bring to the boil, stirring occasionally until cooked, about 15-20 mins.

Season the pigeon breasts, then in a frying pan (The Wild Chef frying pan, available to purchase via my website!) add a little oil and butter, wait until the pan is smoking then add the seasoned pigeon breasts

Cook for 3 mins on each side for medium rare, and then place to one side to rest.

Place the same frying pan back on the heat & add the drained Pasta, spinach leafs and the sundried tomato sauce,  warm and stir together to coat the pasta for a few minutes only (if a little dry add a splash of white wine as the Pasta will want to absorb the liquid).

This is a true Italian sauce with very little liquid and all about strong Tuscan flavours.

In two warmed Pasta bowls heap the Pasta and sauce into the middle, place pigeon breasts on top and decorate with any leftover fresh basil leaves & freshly grated Parmesan cheese,  excellent accompanied with a glass of Chardonnay or Pinot Grigio white wine.