Loose Birds and Game! Well, that’s a book that’s sure to be popular. Aging and anorak-clad men will be leafing through this volume and might possibly return it to the bookshelf disappointed. It’s not a tome of risqué stories of ladies of low virtue, nor a collection of anecdotes concerning women who might be described as being “mucky lasses” or “ no better than they ought ta be” (never could understand that one). No, this is the sequel to Michelin Star chef Andrew Pern’s award-winning first book, Black Pudding & Foie Gras. The foreword is penned by Michel Roux and the introduction is by Brian Turner, and with those culinary hard-hitters on his side it’s safe to suppose that this young but already successful chef is held in high regard.
The Star Inn at Harome in Yorkshire is Andrew’s workplace. He draws his inspiration from this beautiful county and draws on its bounty to present memorable food at his restaurant. But we can’t all make the trip to Yorkshire, so Loose Birds and Game will allow you to enjoy some of the flavour of The Star.
Game has had bad press. Townies have long been divorced from the source of their food. Bread comes in plastic, stock comes in cubes, and birds come in one size and that’s called chicken. We talk about the benefits of organic this and free-range that but we seldom get stuck into a delicious plate of protein that is both free-range and organic and that has real hearty flavour and won’t break the bank.
Game covers a multitude of wildlife: fish, birds and furry things like rabbit – and that’s not popular as it’s cute. It’s strange to think that many of us dismiss various edible animals because they have nice eyes or remind one of Donald Duck, Bambi or Thumper. I am driven to suspect that Walt Disney was a vegetarian.
Loose Birds and Game contains 65 recipes divided into 13 chapters, large-format fold-out pages introducing each topic. There is everything here from dishes that you’ll cook to win round the in-laws, to rustic pies that you’ll want to keep for yourself. Game has never been more affordable.
Goose was our traditional Christmas bird till cheap turkey became the festive meat of choice. Here Andrew offers us Michaelmas Goose with all the trimmings. Michaelmas is the feast of Saint Michael the Archangel on 29 September, although there is no law to date to prohibit the consumption of goose whenever available.
Those aforementioned pies are amongst my favourites in this book. We are famed for our pies in the UK and I can’t think of anyone who does savoury pies better. It’s comfort food taken to new heights. Shooters Game Pie is a classic, containing everything that might have flown overhead during a day of hunting. It’s a substantial heavy-duty creation that should feed a dozen starving shooters. It’s a classy version of the traditional pork pie. I’d serve this with some sharp pickles or tangy chutneys. If you prefer your pickles in the pie rather than on then you couldn’t do better than the Chicken and Wensleydale (a white crumbly cheese) Pie with a layer of your favourite pickle. Practical for midnight snacking.
Loose Birds and Game is a great read. It’s a sensible cookbook with recipes that can easily be executed by the home cook. It’s about game in all its guises but it’s not an over-worthy tome for readers with green wellies and double-barrelled names. This is affordable food and you’ll find a good selection of game at a butcher near you – ask for it if it’s not on display. A book for any cookbook connoisseur.
Loose Birds and Game
Author: Andrew Pern
Published by: Face
Cookbook review by Chrissie Walker © 2018