Different Types of Poultry and Game

Different Types of Poultry and Game

Duck - 'Duckling' describes birds aged up to 6 months. If too young, the bird will not have enough meat to be worth eating. Look for a breast that, when pinched, feels meaty. Duck freezes well because of its high fat content. It is also available as portions and as boneless breasts. More Duck Recipes

Goose - Choose a young bird with pliable breastbone and a plump, well-filled breast. A gosling weighs up to 2kg / 4lb. When it reaches 8-9 months old it becomes a goose and weighs 3-6kg / 6-12lb. Thereafter it becomes much fatter and tougher, and needs much longer cooking.

Grouse - As with most other game, grouse is much better if well hung, for about 4-5 days, sometimes even as long as 2 weeks for those who prefer a really gamey flavor. They are usually only available fresh. The breastbone of young birds should feel soft and pliable. They are best roasted. One grouse will usually serve only one person, although sometimes the really large ones will serve two.

Guinea Fowl - A close relative of the chicken, this fairly dry, dark meat has a mild, gamey flavor. Cook as for chicken, but bear in mind the dryness of the meat. Moist cooking methods such as casseroling are recommended. Also suitable for roasting, when the breast should be covered with bacon to keep it moist.

Hare - Hare is akin to rabbit in flavor, though it is much darker and more gamey. It is often marinated before cooking as it tends to be dry, and is then roasted or casseroled.

Ostrich - A relatively new product to appear, ostrich meat is now being farmed quite extensively. It is very dark red and is not dissimilar to beef, but with a much lower fat content. Because it has so little fat, however, care must be taken not to allow it to dry out during cooking. More Ostrich Recipes

Partridge - These are small game birds which will serve only one portion each. Young plucked birds weigh up to 425g / 14 oz. They are best roasted, but are also good to cook under the grill or on a barbecue. Older birds will weigh 500g / 1 lb or more.

Pheasant - This is probably the best known and most popular of all the game birds. It is available fresh and frozen and can often be found in larger supermarkets. Pheasant should be hung for at least 3 days for a good flavor to develop.

Young birds are best roasted but more mature birds - which have a better flavor - will be tougher, so need the longer cooking of casseroling, braising or pot-roasting to ensure they are tender. One pheasant will serve two or three people when roasted, and larger mature birds may serve up to four when casseroled with other ingredients.

Pigeon - Pigeons do not need to be hung. If plump and young, one bird will serve a portion. They have a rich, dark meat. More Pigeon Recipes

Quail - These are the smallest European game birds, like tiny partridges. As they are so small, two birds can be served for a good portion, but one is usually enough, and eating them with fingers is almost obligatory. Quails must be eaten really fresh - within 24 hours of being killed - and they are most usually simply roasted.

Rabbit - Rabbit has lean meat and small, thin bones. The flesh of the wild rabbit is dark with a gamey flavor, while the flesh of farmed rabbit is pale with a delicate texture and flavor. Soak in cold, salted water for several hours before cooking. Stew, roast or saute. More Rabbit Recipes

Turkey - For best flavor, choose a hen bird, hung for 3 days, with moist skin tinted pearly white. A whole frozen turkey takes at least 48 hours to defrost; let it thaw gradually in the refrigerator and finally at room temperature for a few hours. Once thawed, cook as soon as possible. It must be cooked through to the centre. Allow 500g / 1 lb per person. Turkey is also often available boneless and diced, and as leg and breast portions. More Turkey Recipes

Venison - The deep red meat of the farmed deer is lean, tender and delicately flavored but lacks the gamey flavor of wild deer. The meat is suitable for pan-frying, grilling, barbecuing, roasting and casseroling. Marinating improves the flavor and slight dryness.

Wild Boar - Wild boar is now available in some supermarkets and butchers' shops. It is similar to pork, but with a more intense, gamey flavor. It is often used in sausages, but it is also suitable for roasting or casseroling, depending on the cut.

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