Wild Thing!

January 13, 2024
2 mins read

Tuesday, January 1, 2008
By Franka Philip
We recently marked the National Game Week in Britain. It’s a celebration of all things wild and wonderful. Actually, I don’t need a special time for game, because I’ll find any excuse to cook wild stuff.
One of the things I cherish most about living in the UK is having easy access to excellent quality game, from rabbits and venison to pheasant and grouse. In the Caribbean, where the hunting season generally runs from October to February, the game species include deer, wild pig (quenk) lappe (Agouti paca) and tattoo (armadillo) but you have to have hunting connections to get some.
I can vaguely remember my first taste of wild meat. It was manicou, a small marsupial or possum that’s actually regarded as vermin. My father took my mother and I to a dinner at his friend’s home and we had a lavish meal. I told the host that I particularly enjoyed the beef and he laughed slyly before revealing that it was in fact manicou.
The next wild thing I ate was iguana, caught by my father on a countryside jaunt with some of his friends. I distinctly remember my mother’s expression when he brought home this huge green lizard (or small green dinosaur depending on how you look at it). She was definitely not impressed but she still curious enough to hang around and see how Daddy would cook it.
I looked on in awe as my father methodically cut it up and cleaned the meat with a lot of lime and salt. He left it for a while then washed the meat and added a load of chopped herbs like Spanish thyme, chives, onion, garlic and chadon beni.
He then chucked all of it in the pressure cooker and we had stewed iguana a couple of hours later. Although I can remember the process of cooking the iguana, I really can’t recall how it tasted. It’s because of my father that I enjoy wild meat and offal. He came from very humble beginnings in the countryside and his diet consisted of a lot of ‘peasant food’. Many years later, my taste buds are all the better for it.
So to mark the celebration of National Game Week, I’m sharing a Trinidadian recipe for roast leg of deer by Sylvia Hunt, the Delia Smith of Trinidad and Tobago. The key to this recipe is a marinade that seems a bit complex but is worth the effort.
Sylvia Hunt’s Marinade
1 lb onion, grated
3 cloves garlic, grated
1 cup peeled and grated green papaya
1 bunch mixed thyme (Spanish and French), chopped
2 sticks of celery, chopped
1 tbsp ginger, grated
1 bay leaf
3 mild chillies, seeded and finely chopped
½ cup red wine vinegar
2 tbsp soy sauce
1 tsp white pepper
2 tbsp salt
2 tbsp sugar
1 Scotch bonnet pepper
½ cup dark rum
1. Pour vinegar and soy sauce into a large saucepan and bring to the boil.
2. Add onions, garlic, papaya, thyme, celery, ginger and bay leaf and simmer until papaya is soft.
3. Add mild pepper, white pepper, salt and sugar and stir.
4. Place the Scotch bonnet on the mixture and simmer gently for a further 20 mins, checking to see that Scotch bonnet remains whole.
4. Remove from heat, take our Scotch bonnet and stir in rum.
5. When the marinade is cool, bottle and refrigerate.
Sylvia Hunt’s Roast Leg of Deer
1 leg of deer
1 cup of minced seasoning marinade
¼ cup softened butter
¼ cup dark rum
1. Make cuts in the meat, massage the marinade into the meat and refrigerate for at least two hours.
2. Rub all over with butter and place on a trivet in a deep roasting tin.
3. Put meat into oven pre-heated to 220C and roast for 20 minutes to seal.
4. Reduce the heat to 170C and allow 20 minutes per pound.
5. When the meat is done, pour over warm rum and flambé.
6. Allow to rest before carving.
Franka Philip is a journalist with the BBC in London. She blogs at www.Cancookmustcook.com
Please e-mail comments to comments@thenewblackmagazine.com

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