‘Wild Chef Diary’ – Ralph Skripek
Back in May of this year, I had the special pleasure of teaming up with Chris Green, ‘The Cornish Countryman’ and film-maker at ‘West Country Films’. Young rooks were on the menu down on the flat lands of Somerset, and to complete his brand new crow shooting DVD, I conjured up a rook pie with seasonal asparagus topped with creamy potatoes, wild garlic, smoked bacon, all encased in shortcrust pastry glazed with Somerset apples – washed down with a fine award winning Derbyshire ale! The release date was set for the CLA game fair which we all know ended up being a ‘wash out’, but it is on sale via www.westcountryfilm.co.uk and at many game fairs around the country on Chris Green’s Pigeon Decoy and the BASC stands. Ideas are already on the table in August with a new pigeon shooting DVD filming in my home County of Derbyshire cooking ‘wild’ some great wood pigeon dishes and with Chris, out in the field, putting what he preaches to practise!
In June, I had a run in with some crayfish that were given to me live by some of my fishing friends, these were not our indigenous crayfish, and not the American Signal, but the Turkish Long Claw which I have to say is a bit of a beast when it comes to size.  The lake my friends fish is very much over run with them, so it was still a slight surprise when 18Kg of live crayfish were dropped on my door step.  A crayfish paella banquet was soon held amongst friends and with a little picking around the plat at first, the crayfish paella was well received and devoured.  The flavour is similar to a fresh water prawn, a little deeper and stronger in taste, great with wild sea trout or reservoir caught trout, and they will certainly feature on my bistro menus in the coming months, so keep catching those long claws lads!
With August/ September around the corner, and the built up for the great glorious 12th, or in some areas the 13th August, the grouse season can-not arrive any quicker.  With a wash-out Spring and Summer, I hope this hasn’t put too much of a dampening on nesting pairs, and we can celebrate the great flavour of grouse in our restaurants.  Also, this is one of my favourite times of the year seeing through hazy, dusty clouds, the combine harvesters working the crops.  This is the sign of great wood pigeon shooting days ahead, how lucky we are to have such a harvest of fine ‘wild’ food in out countryside.  At this time of year, with game coming into season, & every shooters fridge & freezer starting to fill up with roe buck, wood pigeons and soon grouse, there’s some mouth watering recipes in my game recipe book ‘Wild Chef’ available via http://www.butlerspantryderby.co.uk/ and at game shows around the Country.

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