© David Loftus
roast of incredible game birds with proper polenta
This Italian-style extravaganza is a luxury version of a Sunday roast. Use whatever games available, or combine game birds with everyday chicken. If you give your butcher some notice, he can get you almost anything thats in season and prepare it for you!
Preheat your oven to full whack. Either ask your butcher to spatchcock the guinea fowl or chicken, and the pheasant for you, or have a go at doing it yourself. Turn the bird upside down and cut underneath the legs with a good pair of scissors. Remove the bony part of the carcass that has no meat on it (bearing in mind that you want to save the incredible meat around the legs) and open the bird out like a book. You can then stuff the cavities of the other birds with flavourings a sprig of rosemary, a sprig of thyme and a little orange or lemon zest.
Place the onion, celery and carrots in a large roasting tray (or two small ones) and lay the sausages and birds on top. Throw in the bay leaves and the rest of the thyme and rosemary. Drizzle with olive oil and massage it into each bird. Season all the meat generously. Place in the preheated oven and immediately turn the temperature down to 180°C/350°F/gas 4. Cook for 1½ hours, turning the birds a few times, until the meat is juicy and cooked through to the bone.
After half an hour, bring 2 litres of salted water to the boil in a non-stick pan and whisk in the polenta. Turn the heat right down, place a lid on so its ajar (otherwise the pan might spit hot polenta at you!) and simmer for 50 minutes, stirring it as often as you can. If it starts to become too thick, add some more hot water.
Remove the birds from the oven, lift them out of the tray and keep warm. Put the tray on the hob, pour in the wine and simmer gently to make a quick sauce. Then see to the polenta itll need some serious perking up now. Stir in about three-quarters of the butter and all the grated Parmesan. Once smooth, taste it and season if required. It should now be delicious! Spoon all the polenta on to a big board or platter, spread it out evenly and put to one side to firm up a little.
Give your sauce a stir and add the rest of the butter. Strain it through a sieve into a pan, pressing down hard. Cut the bigger birds into drumstick thighs and breast pieces and place with all the other birds on top of your polenta. Slice the sausages and add to the pile. Spoon the red wine sauce over the top and finish with a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil. Put the board in the middle of the table and let everyone dive in. A fantastic feast!
from Jamie at Home
1 pheasant, spatchcocked, washed and patted dry
1 guinea fowl or 1.2kg chicken, spatchcocked, washed and patted dry
1 partridge, washed and patted dry
2 wood pigeons, washed and patted dry
4 quails, washed and patted dry
a small bunch of fresh rosemary
a small bunch of fresh thyme zest of 1 lemon or orange
1 red onion, peeled and roughly chopped
4 sticks of celery, trimmed and roughly chopped
4 carrots, peeled and roughly chopped
4 Italian sausages or 2 rings of Cumberland sausage
a few sprigs of fresh bay, leaves picked
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
a wineglass of red wine (Chianti is nice)
2 handfuls of freshly grated Parmesan cheese
extra virgin olive oil