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Posts tagged ‘game’

Master of the Game

No this is not about a new action movie, but rather a medieval book on hunting by Gaston de Foix, also called Gaston Phoebus, because of his bright blond hair like the Greek sun god.

Gaston Phoebus Figure 3

left to right, Gaston of the gleaming hair, the Arms of Foix-Béarn and a statue of Gaston.

Before your eyes glaze over at the prospect of reading history, we promise you drama, danger, murder and what is possibly the very first Burning Man festival. Plus pretty pictures of animals.

Gaston (1331 – 1391) was the 11th Count of Foix (in what is southern France today) and Viscount of Béarn (southwest France, today  Basque country and Gascony- Ariane’s neighborhood). From all accounts he was an interesting guy. He reportedly had three “special delights” in his life: “arms, love and hunting.”

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Map showing Béarn with purple outline, right by the Pyrenees, and Foix with red outline.

Which brings us to the point of this post; Gaston Phoebus wrote what is arguably the most famous book on hunting ever, Livre de chasse (Book of the Hunt) in the 1380s. He was a great huntsman – perhaps the greatest of his day. It was the pursuit of his lifetime to the very end: he died from a stroke while washing his hands after a bear hunt.

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Hunting a bear.

But the book is his legacy and actually comprised of four books: On Gentle and Wild Beasts, On the Nature and Care of Dogs, On Instructions for Hunting with Dogs, and On Hunting with Traps, Snares, and Crossbow.

Gaston Phoebus Bunnies

A full page of Gaston’s Book of the Hunt.

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Detail of the hares.

An impressive document on natural history, describing animal behavior as well as the stages of hunting those animals, it is considered to be one of the finest manuscripts of its time. It’s a powerful cultural history that took such care with observations of the natural world that it was in use as a textbook right into the 19th century.

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And it was a bestseller right from the start (as much as things could be when entirely hand-lettered, drawn and painted). The courts of France and Burgundy considered it a work of art, and in some hands it certainly was. Shining with gold and richly colored, perhaps the finest example is from the Masters of Bedford workshop.

Since it’s game season, and we are having a sale on all game meat this week (save 15% – no hunting necessary!), we wanted to share a little of this beautiful book with you. If you would like to see  more, check the Morgan Library & Museum website.

Book of the Hunt Gaston Phoebus DEER

Book of the Hunt Gaston Phoebus BOAR

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What about the murder, the drama and Burning Man? Well, Gaston Phoebus had a son who, in adulthood, tried to poison his father. Then later, Phoebus accidentally stabbed and killed this only son in a fight. That’s Shakespeare-level drama.

While he had no heir, he did have four illegitimate sons. And one of them was burned alive at an unfortunate performance at a ball in Paris for King Charles VI of France. The Bal de Ardents, or Burning Man Ball, went down in history when a costume brushed against a torch and spread rather quickly, killing four dancers in the fire while the court watched. And here is where our story ends.

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Le Bal des Ardents, illuminated miniature from Jean Froissart’s Chroniques, note the dancer plunged into a wine barrel on the right, and how the musicians continue to play.

 

It’s Game Season! Save 15% This Week

Whether beast or fowl, all game is 15% off all week. Our Scottish game, flown in fresh from the hunt, our venison, raised in pristine pastureland in New Zealand, and even dainty and delicious quail are all specially priced through 10/19/14 at dartagnan.com.
HPC_WildGame15And check our website for recipes and videos. Worried about cooking wild boar? No need! Chef Marc Murphy and Ariane show you how in this video.

And our recipe page has plenty of inspirations for game feasts. Forget the thrill of the chase … this is all about the thrill of the taste.

All About Venison

For many, venison is associated with a hunter friend who dispenses irregular, butcher-paper-wrapped meat parcels of uneven quality and dubious taste. So it’s not a surprise that venison’s reputation has been less than stellar until recently.

Venison grazing on a Cervena-certified farm in New Zealand.

Venison grazing on a Cervena-certified farm in New Zealand.

Over the last decade or so, venison has become more main stream. The best restaurants in the country include it on their menus, and it can be purchased at neighborhood grocery stores and local butchers as well as online. Not only is venison easier to procure, but it’s more tender and milder in taste than its wild counterpart. Retail availability also means that home cooks can pick and choose the best cuts, not just the frozen stew meat left over from Uncle Bob’s hunting trip last year.

The term venison comes from the Latin verb venari, meaning “to hunt.” It can refer to meat coming from boar, hares, and certain species of goats and antelopes, but is most commonly applied to deer meat. Deer meat is characterized by its fine grain and supple texture resulting from short, thin muscle fibers. Red (the largest type of deer), axis, fallow, and roe are the most common type of deer used for their meat. Because of its large size, red deer are preferred for ranch-raised venison.

Where Does Venison Come From?
In addition to venison hunted largely in the Fall and early Winter season, ranches or farms are now located throughout the world. Most of America’s supply currently comes from New Zealand ranches and is marketed under the appellation Cervena, a name which reaches back to historical origins, combining cervidae, the Latin word for deer, with venison.

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Cervena is a trademarked appellation that certifies that venison has been naturally pasture-raised, grass-fed with only minimal supplemental feed such as hay, and without steroids or growth hormones. Antibiotics are administered only in cases of extreme disease and are then tracked by animal and not allowed to be processed. Cervena also requires that animals be under three years of age at time of processing and that processing take place at accredited facilities. Cervena certified farms are privately-operated New Zealand farms that adhere to the strict standards required by the appellation.

Why Eat Venison?
Game of all types, especially venison, is low in fat, cholesterol, and calories and high in the essential nutrients niacin, phosphorus, iron, selenium, and zinc. Tender, light, and with a mild red meat taste, Cervena venison is packed with flavor (plus iron and calcium), but weighs in with only a fifth the amount of fat that beef does – making it both delicious and nutritious.According to the USDA National Nutrient Database, Cervena venison has about a fifth the amount of fat and about 100 fewer calories per 3.5 ounce serving of beef, the traditional choice for red meat.

Chef Chris Cosentino's Veniosn Tartare.

Chef Chris Cosentino’s Venison Tartare with Foie Gras.

All About Wild Hare

This small, common game animal has been a part of the human diet since early history, and bone remains have been discovered in ancient caves in Greece dating back to 15,000 BC. While rabbit boasts a mild flavor, wild hare appeals mostly to ardent game lovers, as its red meat is distinctly gamey in flavor.

Although both animals are from the same family, they are from different genera: hare is Lepus and rabbit is Oryctolagus. Hares are larger, weighing anywhere from 5 to 8 pounds. They have longer ears, and larger hind legs and feet. In spite of their names, American jackrabbits and snowshoe rabbits are both hares. The cottontail, however, is a rabbit.

The flesh of hare is darker, and the legs always need long, slow braising to become tender and less gamy. The saddles are best served rare. Because of its assertiveness, hare loves aggressive flavors—dried fruits, rich wines, wild mushrooms—as its partners. A slow bath in a hearty red wine and dried cherries, or a full-bodied port wine with fresh thyme does wonders to temper a hare.

Of all the ways to prepare a hare, the most noble is surely Lièvre à la Royale—boned hare stuffed with foie gras and forcemeat. Rolled and braised in wine and stock, the hare is then sliced and presented with quenelles and sauce (often made with egg yolks and foie gras). “Royal hare” is a labor-intensive dish likely developed for French monarchy, and passed down into the annals of culinary history as a legendary dish, on the life list of nearly every gourmand. It is claimed to be one of the most challenging dishes in French cooking, but it rewards with intense, concentrated flavor and richness.

Photo from the blog Paris by Mouth

Hare has been a constant from the royal table to the peasant kitchen, as jugged hare will attest. References to this classic recipe appear in England before the Roman invasion, where it was long considered fare for poor country folk. A recipe for jugged hare was recorded in an early 18th century cookbook, and the French make it, too, calling it civet de lièvre. To jug a hare is to cut it into pieces, marinate and cook it in red wine and juniper berries in a tall jug standing inside a pan of water. Traditionally, the hare’s blood is added to the sauce.

Civet de Lièvre Recipe

Older hare can be tough so many braising and stewing recipes were developed to tenderize the meat. Roasting is only used for young animals, but when hunting animals it’s hard to pick and choose which one you get. Like all game meat, wild hare is lean, so if benefits from moist cooking like braising and stewing.

At D’Artagnan, wild Scottish brown hare (Lepus europaeus) is procured in weekend estate hunts organized from mid-September to February, and is immediately processed in a facility supervised by the European Economic Community Inspectors. Like all our wild, hunted game, hare may contain shot, so chew with care.

RECIPE SUGGESTIONS:
Braised Legs of Wild Hare in Thyme-Port Wine Sauce
Lièvre à la Royale Garnished with Ziti in Wine-Cream Sauce and Beet Mousseline

Save the Date: Game Dinner at Daniel

For more information, and to buy tickets, email Julia Murphy.

 jmurphy@danielnyc.com

Upcoming Event: Game Dinner at Daniel

For more information, and to buy tickets, click here. Update: As of 10/28/11 this event is sold out.

Upcoming event: Game Dinner at Café Centro

Relish in the glorious flavors of fall at Café Centro‘s seasonal game dinner on Saturday, October 29th. Guest hosted by our own, Ariane Daguin, the dinner and hors d’oeuvres reception will focus on classic and contemporary game dishes artfully prepared by chefs Franck Deletrain and Fred Darenius.  Tickets are $95, available here. Hope to see you there!

Part of world-renowned, Patina Restaurant Group, Café Centro is a richly elegant Grand Café in the classic Parisian tradition – set in the iconic international style landmark MetLife Building – Café Centro offers a select menu of French favorites with a Mediterranean twist.

200 PARK AVE. AT EAST 45TH ST.
NEW YORK, NY 10166
212 818 1222