Last weekend was a veritable fieldsports frenzy, spending all of Friday fishing at Thornwood Springs for an article coming out in February and then shooting with dear pal Sam Maitland-Robinson on his family day in Wiltshire. An obsession with outdoor pursuits while based in London may seem like a contradiction of terms, but with plenty of urban locales on my doorstep (read all about this in Pursuit International’s debut print issue!) and a flair for the dramatic, I am actually able to get stuck into fieldsports a fair amount. It comes down to a bit of logistical juggling, supportive friends and determination to make this work but I have found it easy to enjoy all of the wonderful elements of a day in the field and catch the train (or a generous ride) home to my flat in south west London on Sunday night, armed with supper for the week.
After a fruitful day on the water at Thornwood I rang Sammy to ask if he wanted me to bring any trout which had been wrangled earlier and freshly gutted and cleaned by Peter himself. Sammy, an equally keen angler, just laughed and said he had enough to last him and that I should keep my trout for a tasty dish. Not a huge fan of baked trout, and careful to avoid loads of oil in a pan fryer, I tentatively asked him if it was at all possible to fashion an at-home smoker…weird concept but I have outdoor space...? To my surprise, Sammy sent me a few links to Youtube videos featuring homemade smokers, which include woodchips, tealeaves and a biscuit tin. I started dreaming of smoked trout dipped in soy sauce, and tapenade on whole grain toast.
The day in Wiltshire yielded a modest bag but enough for everyone to take a few birds. As I live on my own and don’t have the need for a whole-bird roast on a regular basis, I find it makes more sense to breast my own birds and pack them into tupperware for the fridge. A sharp knife, a picnic table and a portable container was all I needed. It also evades carrying feathered birds on public transport (NOT a good idea) and allows the calorie-conscious among us to make simpler dishes. Two of my favourites include partridge breast in coconut oil with mixed herbs, a splash of red wine and garlic in a pan, with steamed spinach on the side. Just last night I tried the breast rubbed in mixed herbs and olive oil, then wrapped in mozzarella and Parma ham in the oven also with a side of steamed spinach or greens. Do be careful to not overcook the partridge, it can dry out.
I have found my own ways of how to deal with living in town and incorporating my catch and kill into my London life, it is economical, healthy, supports our sport and tastes delicious. Feel free to send me your own tips and tricks and easy recipes for me to share.