February is one of those ‘in-between’ months. It stands a little shy from the bountifulness of spring and hangs on desperately for the last of winters root vegetables. Even though fresh food choices are more obscure there is still, surprisingly, a lot to work with, especially when it comes to meat.
It’s just a matter of retooling the old vegetable standbys with an abundance of seasonal game. There is a tasty selection available, from a rich, full-flavoured venison to a hearty partridge, and not forgetting a tasty guinea fowl, a bird that should never be underestimated (much like all us MyLBB ladies!).
These fabulous and seasonal meats make a mouthwatering alternative to traditional roast dinner fodder, so why not surprise palates with the best the British countryside has to offer.
300ml chicken stock
2 plump and juicy Poussin/ Pheasants/ Partridges/ Quails
25g goose fat, duck fat or butter
4 smoked bacon slices
4 French onions/ Shallots, peeled
150g Carrots, peeled and cut into thick slices
150g Parsnips, peeled and cut into thick slices
150g Pumpkin, peeled and cut into thick chunks
2 celery stalks, cleaned and cut into thick slices
1 leek, cleaned and cut into thick slices
Salt for seasoning
Freshly ground black pepper for seasoning
1 teaspoon of fresh or dried rosemary sprigs
6 Juniper berries
3 Fresh or dried bay leaves
125ml Dry sherry
Preheat the oven to 220°C/Gas mark 7/ 400°F.
Simmer the chicken stock in a large saucepan over a low to medium heat.
Meanwhile, heat the fat in a flame-proof casserole over a medium flame.
Season the poussins inside and out, then brown them lightly on both sides. Lift them out with a slotted spoon and leave to cool on a large plate.
Once cool, lay two slices of bacon and a bay leaf over each poussin and tie in place with string.
Next, add the French onions to the pan and brown gently over low heat for about 10-15 minutes. Add the remaining vegetables, rosemary, ½ teaspoon of salt and ground black pepper. Cover and cook over medium heat for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Mix the remaining two bay leaves and juniper berries into the vegetables, along with the sherry and chicken stock.
Place the poussin on top, bring to the boil over high heat, cover with the lid and transfer to the oven. Cook for 20-30 minutes.
Remove the lid and cook for a further 10-15 minutes to brown the bacon, then leave to rest for 5 minutes.
Serve generously onto plates and enjoy.