It’s that time of year again! Wild Scottish game birds are back! This season arrives during the excitement surrounding the Downton Abbey film, and the only appropriate response is to have a lovely game dinner. Because that’s what the Crawleys would do, isn’t it? Read on and you’ll eat like the lord – or lady – of the manor.
For over 30 years, D’Artagnan has been the source in the United States for truly wild Scottish game birds. Hard to procure on this side of the pond, Wild Grouse, Wood Pigeon, Pheasant, and Red-Legged Partridge are hunted on game preserves and estates in Scotland and flown to us within two days of the hunt. Both professional and home cooks depend on us for the authentic flavor that only wild game birds can supply.
The wild birds forage on the moors and in the forests; their diet of berries, heather, and tundra, along with constant exercise, gives their meat a distinctive flavor. It’s been done the same way on these estates forever, and Downton fans will remember a very tweedy hunting scene in a 2012 Christmas episode, along with a special grouse shoot at a castle in Northern England in a later episode.
After the hunt, the game birds are immediately processed in a facility supervised by European Economic Community Inspectors. The EEC inspection satisfies the USDA laws, so we are able to offer game birds despite the prohibition on selling hunted game in the U.S.
How to Cook Wild Game Birds
Are you new to cooking game birds? Check the game bird recipes at dartagnan.com, as well as the excellent historic recipes – for grouse and pheasant – from blogger Deana Sidney. Wild game is more intense than domesticated poultry, so be prepared for the deep flavors. Ranked from the mildest flavor to most gamey: pheasant, partridge, wood pigeon, grouse.
Get them while you can. Our wild game birds are available in the fall and winter months only. Once the season is over, we cannot get any more of these rare birds until the hunt begins again next year. Warning: watch for shot pellets when preparing and eating wild game birds.
What Would Mrs. Patmore Do?
In the new Downton film, the house is in an uproar because King George V and Queen Mary are coming to visit … and bringing their own chefs and attendants!
Foodie fans of Downton will want the new Official Downton Abbey Cookbook by culinary historian Annie Gray. Now you can cook like Mrs. Patmore (with the convenience of a food processor!) … and eat like the Crawleys. Check the author’s blog for a complete list of the recipes in the book, annotated with her historic sources for these painstakingly accurate dishes. We’re intrigued by the meat recipes in particular, though there are plenty of tempting cakes!
Beyond the recipes, this book offers history about eating and entertaining in the great houses from 1912 to 1927, the era of the series. In the 1920s, European and American influences brought lighter fare to the table and replaced the game and meat pies formerly common in England. Another innovation from America was the cocktail, and you can make historically accurate cocktails with the Official Downton Abbey Cocktail Book to go along with your meals.
This game bird season is shaping up to be a good one, with the Downton Abbey film and accompanying books to inspire home cooks.
Since 1985, D’Artagnan has been at the forefront of the farm-to-table movement, producing superior tasting products by partnering with small ranches and farms. We are committed to free-range, natural production, sustainable and humane farming practices and no use of antibiotics or hormones. That’s why D’Artagnan products have been revered by America’s most renowned chefs for over 30 years. We offer the same high-quality products to home cooks at dartagnan.com, along with recipes and guides to help you live the tasty life.
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