A while ago I was lucky enough to be invited on a press trip to Mike Robinson’s The Pot Kiln and The Game and Wild Food Cookery School in Frilsham nr Yattendon. I am huge advocate of the education of ‘field to plate’ to help people understand where their meat comes from and most importantly, respect it. I was there for The Full Venison Course.
We arrive in Frilsham early on a Saturday morning to be greeted by the welcoming smell of fresh coffee and bacon rolls before we head off for the shoot.
There is no randomness in the shooting of deer in the UK. You need to hold a gun licence for a start and also, believe it or not the deer need to be culled to keep stock down and to keep the herds healthy too.
We shot a fallow deer, well I didn’t, that was a royal ‘we’. Immediately Mike begins to field dress the deer. This enables that carcass to cool down really quickly. For those of you who are interested and not too squeamish there is a slideshow below of the process.
I have to say, every one else there did think I was a bit odd at first taking the photographs until they realised I was there as press. There is real skill and accuracy required to field dressing. Once the deer was dressed we then headed off to Vicars Game to witness the skill of skinning and butchering the carcass. I have to say that we did all watch in awe of the deft hand of Alan Hayward skinning the deer so that the pelt was entirely in tact.
The saddest part of this procedure is that the pelts are then incinerated, they have to be by law. In my eyes it would be great to set up a local tanning business and use the pelts so that the whole of the animal is used. Alan then proceeded to butcher the venison, which was done with absolute accuracy and ease, not even allowing his son hanging off his shoulders to distract him.
After marveling at Alan’s deft butchery skills we headed off to the cookery school, where Mike, ably assisted by his second in command ‘Big Dave’, demonstrated the best way to cook venison including Mike’s famous venison paves and the aptly named Bucklebury chop otherwise know as the Barnsley chop to some. The venison was beautifully cooked, tender and pink. Served with a sock punching deeply flavoured demi-glace, fresh baby vegetables picked from The Pot Kiln garden and velvety smooth truffle mash…some jobs are tough I know.
You cannot help but absorb the energy of Mike’s passion about game and the importance of the knowledge of the field to plate process. It oozes from his pores and he’s damn nice chap to boot.
I highly recommend a visit to The Pot Kiln to experience the range of superb dishes that are always on the menu and changes with the seasons. The produce is local and of the highest quality, here is an example menu just to make you salivate.
Mike’s most recent appearance on TV was ITV’s Countrywise and Countrywise Kitchen.
The squeamish need to look away NOW!…