Fine food in the field

Looking to elevate your shoot lunches, or perhaps you have an extra special day planned? Italian chef Valentino Gentile brings you some inspired game dishes… 

When our regional officer for Surrey and Hampshire, Fliss Winters, was approached by a local shoot pitching an idea of inviting a local chef, Valentino Gentile, to join them on a shoot day, she simply couldn’t miss out on the opportunity. 

Fliss jumped right in to help turn this idea into reality by working closely with the shoot and a local game dealer. The shoot has close personal links to Val and have enjoyed his food ever since he worked at a local Italian restaurant, La Luna, before opening Clava in West Byfleet, Surrey. 

Chef Valentino calls upon his upbringing in Italy and his passion for local, sustainable food for his cooking, and this passion for his craft is obvious in every dish he prepares. 

With some assistance from the shoot staff, Val set up a small yet functional kitchen in the field to whip up delicious game dishes. Using only locally sourced ingredients, he demonstrated just how simple it can be to create beautiful, delicious, and seasonal food within minutes. 

Below you will find three wonderful dishes prepared for the shoot members on the day. They make a perfect shoot lunch if you’re brave enough to try some outdoor cooking in winter. Alternatively, try making them at home for yourself.


venison carpaccio

Venison carpaccio with beetroot and horseradish tartare and pickled ginger

Serves 8
35 minutes cooking time
(venison to be cooked in advance and frozen solid)

• 750g venison loin or tenderloin
• 400g boiled beetroot
• 6tbsp crème fraiche
• 2tbsp horseradish, finely grated
• 1tbsp fresh thyme, finely chopped
• 10g juniper berries, ground
• Pepper, ground
• Salt
• 2tbsp olive oil
• Juice from ½ lemon
• Chervil root (or vegetable crisps)
• Pickled ginger
• Lettuce or rocket
• Oil


1. Coat the venison in finely chopped thyme, and freshly ground black pepper and juniper.
2. Sear the meat in a very hot pan with a little oil, ensuring the entire exterior surface of the meat has been evenly cooked.
3. Set aside to cool, tightly wrap in clingfilm and place in the freezer. The meat must be frozen solid.
4. Cut the beetroot into ½ cm cubes.
5. Mix in some crème fraiche and season with salt and finely grated horseradish.
6. Now mix the lemon juice, olive oil and salt to make the emulsion dressing.
7. Slice the venison very thinly while it’s still frozen, placing the slices on your chosen base, in this case, chervil root crisps. Ensure the slices have defrosted before serving.
8. Top with beetroot tartare and drizzle the emulsion on top. Finish with some finely sliced pickled ginger and a small handful of lettuce of choice.


Roasted partridge crown with leg and black pudding croquette, Waldorf salad and quince purée

Serves 4
30 minutes cooking time

• 2 whole partridges (remove the legs and crown)
• 200g black pudding
• ½ celeriac, finely diced
• 2 small onions, finely diced
• 3 carrots, finely diced
• 12 quince cubes
• Quince purée
• Corn flakes, crushed
• Butter
• 2 green apples (Granny Smiths), finely sliced
• 4 celery stems, finely sliced
• 12 white grapes, halved
• Candied walnuts
• Mayonnaise
• 2 garlic cloves
• Herb mix: thyme, rosemary, pepper and salt


1. Pan-fry the celeriac, onions, and carrots until cooked through. Add a dash of water to de-glaze the pan and add ¾ of your herbs and the partridge legs. Keep on medium heat until cooked throughout. Remove from the heat and allow to cool.
2. Once cooled, remove the meat from the legs and set aside. Do not discard the bones.
3. In a bowl, mix the leg meat with the black pudding and a dash of your herb mix. Roll into four balls and push a partridge leg bone inside each one to make a meat-lolly croquette. Coat with some crushed corn flakes and set aside.
4. Cook the partridge crowns in a pan with butter, thyme, and garlic for 4-5 minutes. Once cooked, leave to rest for another 4-5 minutes.
5. While the crowns are resting, deep fry the leg croquettes until golden and crispy. Once rested, cut the breasts from the crowns.
6. Mix the sliced celery and apples with white grapes, candied walnuts and a small dollop of mayonnaise.
7. To finish, place some quince purée on the plate. Add a spoonful of the salad on one side and place a partridge breast on top. Place one deep-fried leg croquette on the other side of the plate. Add three cubes of quince, each topped with a candied walnut.

pheasant ravioli

Pheasant and ricotta ravioli with pumpkin purée and ceps and sage butter sauce

Serves 4
30 minutes cooking time
(optionally, you can brine the thighs in light brine overnight)

• 4 pheasant thighs
• 8 rashers unsmoked bacon
• 1 onion, finely chopped
• ½ celery, finely chopped
• 1 carrot, finely chopped
• 70g ricotta cheese
• Pasta dough (freshly made is best)
• 3-4 sage leaves, finely chopped
• 1 garlic clove, crushed
• 100g butter
• 150g cep mushrooms (or any other wild mushrooms), sliced
• Parmesan
• Pumpkin purée (can be canned)
• Salt and pepper
• Oil
• 1 beaten egg


1. Mince the pheasant thighs and bacon together.
2. Heat a little oil in a frying pan, add the mince mix, onion, celery, and carrot. Fry for 3-4 minutes on medium-high heat. Season to taste with salt and pepper, add the garlic and cook for another 2 minutes. Set aside to cool.
3. Once the mix has cooled down, stir in the ricotta. Season with more salt and pepper if needed.
4. Roll out your pasta on floured, flat surface, to about ½mm, then cut out a 20x10cm rectangle.
5. Place teaspoon-sized portions of the filling onto one half of the pasta, leaving 2cm space around each portion. Brush the edges around the filling with the beaten egg.
6. Fold the pasta over the filling, make sure there are no air bubbles, and press down on the pasta to make it stick together. Cut into even squares and check there are no holes between the two layers of pasta.
7. Cook the ravioli in boiling water for 3 minutes. Keep a little bit of pasta water for the sauce.
8. Melt the butter in a clean pan, then add the sage and mushrooms. When the mushrooms are cooked, add a dash of your starchy pasta water to form a sauce. Season to taste.
9. Transfer the cooked ravioli to the pan with the sauce and stir to coat well.
10. To serve, place a spoonful of pumpkin purée on a plate. Place the ravioli on top and pour over some of the mushroom sauce, making sure each portion includes some of the mushrooms. Add a generous sprinkling of parmesan.
11. Optional: If you have dried ceps, you can crush them and dust some of the mushroom powder over the top.

This article first appeared in Shooting and Conservation magazine. Read more here.