How to Roast a Game Bird

The following points should be borne in mind when roasting game birds:

(a) Some game birds require hanging in order to improve their flavor and texture when cooked.

(b) Large game birds should be barded to protect the breasts from drying during roasting.

(c) All game birds are cooked in a hot oven at a temperature of 220°C.

(d) Roast game should not be too well cooked. It should be slightly underdone.

(e) Once roasted the bird should be served on a croûton of bread covered with Game Liver Farce.

(f) Whenever possible game birds should be cooked to order as the meat deteriorates rapidly if retained in a hot cupboard for any length of time.

(g) Where possible all garnishes and accompaniments should be prepared before cooking the bird, with the exception of the roast gravy which is prepared with juices from the roast. This will ensure that the bird is held for the shortest possible time before serving.

(h) When serving game birds picked watercress should be placed at the tail end and game chips at the neck of the bird. Bread Sauce and clear Roast Gravy should be served in sauceboats together with white breadcrumbs shallow fried in melted butter until they are golden.

Makes: 10 portions. Cooking time: 10–25 minutes. Oven temperature: 220°C.

Ingredients:

— 10 prepared bird (trussed, barded and seasoned as necessary)
— 3 dl melted dripping or oil
— 3 dl brown stock
— 10 croûtons 5 cm in diameter
— 150 grams game liver farce
— 100 grams white breadcrumbs
— 2 dl melted butter
— 2 dl bread sauce
— 3 bunches picked watercress

Method:

(1) Heat the fat in a roasting tray, the size of which is in keeping with the size of the birds to be roasted, on top of the stove.

(2) Place the prepared birds into the hot fat and lightly color them on both sides. Lay them on their sides on one leg and place in the oven to roast.

(3) After approximately 5 minutes turn the birds over onto the other leg for a similar period, basting from time to time.

(4) Lay the birds on their backs with the breasts uppermost. Continue to roast for a further 5-8 minutes.

(5) When almost cooked remove the barding. Baste and allow the breasts to colour slightly.

(6) When cooked, remove the birds from the roasting pan and retain in a warm place. Stack the birds with the neck ends against the bottom of the roasting tray and breasts downwards to allow the juices to lubricate the flesh.

(7) Drain off all the surplus fat allowing any sediment to remain in the tray.

(8) Add the brown stock and allow to simmer gently for a few minutes.

(9) Strain through a fine conical strainer into a deep sided saucepan. Reboil, skim off all traces of fat and other impurities that may come to the surface and season to taste. If necessary retain in a bain-marie for use as required.

(10) Shallow fry the croûtons in the fat in which the grouse were roasted until they are golden. Drain them and spread with the game farce.

(11) Remove the trussing string. Neatly arrange the birds on the croûtons on an oval flat dish with a little of the gravy. Garnish with picked watercress and game chips. Serve accompanied by sauceboats of roast gravy, breadcrumbs tossed in butter until golden and bread sauce.

Notes:
(1) Remember that (a) grouse, partridge and pheasant must be cooked on each leg first before being turned on their backs and removing the barding bacon; and (b) woodcock, quail and snipe are small birds which do not require turning and so should be roasted on their backs throughout.

(2) It is essential to use a sharp knife to remove the string holding the barding to avoid damaging the delicate breast.

(3) Where possible retain some of the fat in which the birds have been roasted for making game farce and frying the bread croûtons.

(4) The quality of pheasant is at times unpredictable. In such instances the legs may be rather tough so avoid using them, discard them and use for alternative preparations such as Pâté Maison.

To test if cooked;
Birds that should be left underdone should be tested by pressing on the breast and legs. A light firmness of the flesh is an indication that they are cooked to the correct degree.

For birds that should be medium-cooked pierce the center of the legs with a fork and allow the juices to escape into a clean dish, The clarity of these juices is an indication of how well the bird is cooked — red indicates underdone; pink indicates medium or slightly undercooked; quite clear indicates that the bird is fully cooked. Such birds may also be tested by pressing the breast, in which case the less resistance to pressure the more cooked the bird.

Accompaniments for roast game

Browned white breadcrumbs:
Shallow fry 100 g white breadcrumbs in 2 dl melted butter until light golden in color, continually turning and tossing to prevent them from burning. Constant attention is required.

Croûtons
Croûtons to be placed under the cooked bird should be cut oblong in shape with the corners removed. The overall size should be in relation to the size of the bird which will be placed on it. Cut a groove the length of the croûton to prevent the bird, once set on it. from rolling off.

Croûtons to be placed at the side of a dish, e.g. when serving carved portions of pheasant, should be oval or round in shape no bigger than 21/2 cm across. They should be shallow fried in melted butter or, if possible, the fat from the roasted bird if it is clean and clear. They should be cooked until a golden color on the outside but still soft within.

Large numbers of croûtons — including heart shaped ones that are served with a number of other preparations such as Fricassée : of Chicken — should be either shallow fried in melted butter or lightly soaked in melted butter, placed onto a baking sheet and toasted under a salamander grill until golden on each side.

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