Learning charcuterie in Devon at Good Game
PUBLISHED: 10:39 08 August 2014
JAMES MILLAR goes on the hunt for good game and picks up some tips on making wild charcuterie
As three friends sped through the Spanish countryside in a battered old £100 Vauxhall Cavalier, sampling the local charcuterie on an epic road trip from Topsham to Casablanca, a dream of starting a food business was born.
More than a decade on and Good Game has now been launched by the three Topsham friends - Jim Kingston, Steve Williams and Pete Woodham Kay - and is going from strength to strength.
Good Game sausages and charcuterie are made with local produce using traditional, artisan techniques. More recently, they have launched a number of courses teaching how to butcher and prepare meat products such as chorizo, salami and air dried hams.
“By spending around £20 on a whole shoulder of pork, and with some basic skills and minimal equipment, you can produce a whole number of products from chorizo, fresh sausages or air dried ham,” Steve Williams explained to me on a half-day course at Pebblebed’s winery in Clyst St Mary, organised by food and drink trail company Graze & Flavour.
Never miss an issue
This article was first published in the food and drink-themed Devon Life Summer Special in August 2014. Make sure you never miss an issue of Devon Life by taking a subscription. Click here for our latest great offers.
“One of our guiding principles at Good Game is thrift and we teach you how to use every single part of the animal, from nose to tail, so that nothing is wasted.”
“Everyone can get as involved as they want. We teach how to butcher, then by mincing the meat we make various types of sausages and cured meats. We make real bacon and everyone is encouraged to try a bit as we cook some up. We then make a simple smoking recipe.”
Today’s students gather around Steve’s butcher’s block. We start by dividing the shoulder of pork into the various cuts, with the bones hived off for ‘the dogs’. Once the meat has been cut, boned and skinned, meat for the sausages, hams and chorizo is put aside.
Students are then given the chance to have a go with some more shoulders that come out of the chiller. Then some goes through the mincer before feeding the mixture (which had been seasoned with a selection of salt, herbs and spices) into the sausage stuffer.
Steve and Pete also give advice on how to avoid spending lots of money on unnecessary equipment. “We will give people real alternatives to forking out loads of money at specialist shops, by using kitchen appliances people already own, or items which can be picked up cheaply. A cork with a pin through it will save you £15 on a salami pricker, a small section of drain pipe means you don’t need a butchers net applicator for £250 and a coffee grinder is perfect for grinding up spice.”
A year and half ago, Good Game was set up in Steve’s garage but now runs from a series of small units in Clyst St Mary including a dedicated hanging room. The produce now goes to pubs, restaurants and shops including Topsham Wine, Topsham Kitchen Deli, Kenniford Farm Shop, Dart’s Farm, The Globe in Lympstone, Route 2 and the River Exe Café.
The courses at West Town Farms in Ide have also proved a big hit, with many selling out. Find out more at good-game.co.uk
Graze & Flavour are on a mission to showcase artisan producers and get people engaged with the food on their plates or in our glasses, from curing to coffee and fish markets to foraging.
If you want to read more about curing and smoking, Steve’s recommendations are Dick and James Strawbrige Smoking and Curing, Marc Frederic La Charcutier Anglais, Steve Lamb (River Cottage) Curing and Smoking and Charcuterie by the Fatted Calf in San Francisco.
How to make a simple smoker
What you need: a large biscuit tin with a lid, a small grill (which fits inside the tin and lifts the contents off the bottom slightly) and some wood chippings. You can buy wood chips online or talk to anyone who creates sawdust. Use hard wood like Oak.
Place the wood chippings on the bottom of the tin, then place the meat, fish, cheese or Veg on the grill which is slightly elevated above the chippings.
Then simply place the pan onto a hob (Gas is best) and very quickly smoke is generated.
Smoke the contents for the required time. As a guide; Mackerel five minutes, Salmon ten minutes and Pork Tenderloin 15 minutes,
This is hot smoking so you are cooking and smoking at the same time. If the food is not completely cooked you can finish the food off in a pan or put it into the oven.
For best results you should always cure the food first before adding smoke, as this will help the smoke attach. If you are fishing put the fish fillets in a bucket of sea water for an hour. If you are working with meat put a 50/50 (salt/brown sugar, then add whatever you like: Bay, Pepper, Juniper etc…..) mix on the meat for 20 minutes to an hour. Make sure you wash it off before smoking.
If your food is too smoky or acrid then smoke less, if it’s too salty then cure less.
A great starter, using Devon Fire chorizo on a BBQ.
Take one Good Game Devon Fire Chorizo and cut up into rough chunks and slices.
A slice of Tiger Bread from Devon’s own Shaldon Bakery.
A bag of Mozerella from Blissful Buffalo in Holsworthy, Devon
Put some BELL & LOXTON Devon Made, Rapeseed oil in a pan and place it on the coals or grill. Lightly fry the Devon Fire Chorizo until all the oil is released from the Chorizo. Don’t let it burn.
Add a few slices of bread and crisp on each side. (If you don’t want to soak up all the fat and flavor feel free to toast the bread directly on the BBQ)
Put the chorizo on the bread in the pan and add the cheese. Continue to cook until the cheese melts and the bread stays crisp.
Eat it with some Dartmoor Chili Farm Hot Habanera Orange and Peach Sauce.
REAL, Easy Bacon
Take a section of Pork Belly or a Loin of Pork
Prepare the meat by removing the bones from the underside and the backbone if using a loin.
Make up a bacon cure: 500g Salt, 500g of brown sugar, crushed black pepper, a few bay leaves and some juniper berries.
Mix all the cure together and keep it in a Tupperware box or a plastic bag.
Put a few handfuls on a plastic tray and put the pork on top, sprinkle another couple of handful over the top. Leave it in the fridge (uncovered) for 12 hours. Remove it from the fridge and drain off the liquid. Add more cure and flip the bacon over. Do this every day for 5 days.
Take the bacon out of tray/bag and wash all the cure off under a cold tap. Rub the bacon joint with a vinegar soaked cloth, this kills all the bacteria and stops the curing process.
Now you need to weigh, label and hang the bacon in some flowing air, but make sure no pests can get at it. Hang the bacon for 7 days then start cutting and eating it.