Sunday, March 30, 2008

Jamie At Home: Episode 12, Game Birds

This is Jamie Oliver’s last episode in his Jamie At Home series on the Food Network. At least it looks like it because the schedule shows that the next few weeks will be reruns. Anywho, I’m kind of glad because recapping this series was a bit rougher than I thought. Even though I love Jamie, there wasn’t much to say. But let’s end it with a bang, shall we?

Jamie is working with game birds today and he’s psyched. He thinks game birds are fantastic, delicious, easy to prepare and underrated. I for one don’t underrate game birds, I love them just as well, especially quail. Pan-sear or roast any game bird and they’re often delicious.

Oops, maybe I spoke too soon. Jamie says he’s going to start off with pigeon. And I actually grew up with pigeons. My mom would make my dad catch the pigeons that would stoop near the roof of our house. It was a free meal but I think my mom was mostly annoyed by all the cooing. Anyway, I wasn’t a big fan of the meat because it was darker than chicken and a bit tough. Let’s see what Jamie does with it.

Asian-style Crispy Pigeon

Jamie is outside with some wood pigeons. He has two of them already skinned and they look really dark, almost like those Chinese black chickens. He’s going to make a dry rub with Szechwan peppercorns and a pinch of salt with his spice shaker. Where does he find those things? I want one. Last week he had a red one, this week it’s a nice blue one.

After shaking up the peppercorns, he adds a teaspoon of five spice, which Jamie says is brilliant for roasting duck. He shakes the ground spices over the pigeons and rubs it all over. He’s pretty rough with those pigeons. Jamie sweeps up the excess and puts them into the cavity. He’s going to fry up the birds in a deep pot of oil, which has been heated up to 180 degrees. While the pigeons are frying up, he’s going to make a dipping sauce.

In a small bowl, he adds zest from half an orange, squeeze of juice, 5 tablespoon of oyster sauce, a teaspoon of sesame oil, half a tablespoon of honey and the juice from half a lime. He whisks all these ingredients together and that’s it. That was easy. (He actually says a bit of fresh ginger grated in would be good but he forgot it this time.)

He also prepares some toppings, so he gets some spring onions and chops them finely. Also some chili, which he makes this weird roar sound when he chops them, I guess to demonstrate what happens when you eat them raw? Jamie and his noises, you got to love it. He says chili makes you happy. Ok. He also chops up some coriander.

His pigeons are about done and he removes them from the oil and pads them with kitchen towel and then places them on a plate with the dipping sauce and he starts piling on his toppings (again with the roar when adding the chili). He demonstrates how to cut up the pigeon into halves and then quarters. I would have used a bigger knife or kitchen shears instead of that regular chef’s knife. But Jamie gets it done, of course. He bites into a piece after dipping it and he’s so happy he’s jumping around. It’s a finger lickin dish, he says.

Roast of Incredible Game Birds with Polenta

Jamie is outside and making a roasto misto, which he says is Italian for mixed roast. So he’s going to roast a bunch of stuff: guinea fowl, quails, pigeon, partridge and pheasant. Wow, the film crew is going to have a lot of food to eat after this demo. Get the complete recipes here.

In a roasting tray, Jamie has root vegetables: celery, onions, carrots that will act as a lift for the birds so they don’t fry on the bottom of the pan. He gets his pheasant and flattens it to make it cook evenly with the other birds. He gets the guinea fowl and cutting away the backbone (he says you can get your butcher to do it but he’s Sir Jamie Oliver so he has to do his own knife work).

He gets his four quails and he’s going to roast those whole. He’s basically stuffing these tiny birds with rosemary and thyme in the cavity. Jamie also has this pinwheel of sausage that he just adds to cook with the birds for flavor, along with herbs and bay leaves. He starts throwing all sorts of things in the tray like rosemary and other herbs, along with salt and pepper and extra virgin olive oil.

He does more rubbing of the birds. I don’t know if I would want a massage from Jamie because he looks a bit rough. He puts the tray into his outdoor wood-fire oven and says to cook it for 90 minutes at 350 degrees.

Classically in Italy this roast is served with polenta. So he works on making that. He has a pot of boiling water and he adds a bunch of polenta grain and starts to whisk it. He puts a lid on it and cooks at low heat for about 50 minutes.

Jamie brings out his tray and the birds are all golden brown. This is absolutely a celebration, he says. It should be with all that food. He puts the birds on the side and he’s going to make a sauce or gravy. He cooks the tray and the remaining root vegetables on the charcoal grill, adding a couple of glasses or decent Chianti. He also adds a nub of butter because butter is the base of all fine sauces.

He’s ready to plate up his feast, so he takes the polenta off the heat. He tastes it and says it’s bland, like mashed potatoes, so he adds three ounces of butter and a whole bunch of parmesan cheese, along with salt.

He pours the polenta onto a chopping board and smears them onto the edge. And then he makes a well in the center. He places the birds and quails and partridge and pheasant and places them all in the middle right over the polenta. He gets some of the juices and pours it through a sieve right into the center over the birds. It’s a huge mountain of brown birds. He says this is what they do for presentation in Italy but I’m thinking I can see some of the sauce juices dripping off the sides of the board.

Pan-fried Partridge with Pearl Barley

Jamie’s cooking at night, and he has a partridge that’s been gutted and plucked. He’s also cooking a sauce pan of pearl barley, which he says is an old English carb. He just boils them in salted water for 50 minutes.

Jamie slices up a red onion and says he’s making a vegetable stew with the partridge. He’s going to use frozen peas.

He drains the pearl barley, puts the pan back on the heat. In the saucepan, he sautés up the onion.

With his partridge, he demonstrates how to take off the bone, cutting off the drumsticks first and then sliding his knife down the backbone to cut two pieces of breast filets. He also chops off the ends of the legs.

After the onions get some color, he stops that and adds the pearl barley and pours in frozen peas. He returns it to the heat and adds either vegetable or chicken broth, adding enough to just cover all the ingredients.

In another pan, he’s going to fry up the partridge, starting with the legs. Starting off by seasoning with salt and pepper, he adds them legs to the pan. Then for the breasts, he seasons them with fresh thyme ad rosemary and salt, just sprinkling them on top and then adds to the pan along with chunks of smoke English bacon.

For the breast, he says it just takes two minutes on the skin and one minute on the other side.

For the stew, he thickens it by adding a nub of butter into flour and then adds that to the pea broth concoction. He’s going to add lettuce and rockets, which he says cooked lettuce is genius because of the flavor that comes out. He throws them into the stew and serves it up, pouring the stew into a bowl and puts the breasts on top along with the other pieces. The stew is still a bit wet, I think. But he says it’s absolutely delicious. (The complete recipe here.)

Must be a British thing:

Spring onions=green onions


Kitchen towel=paper towel

Jamieisms heard in this episode:


Jamie At Home airs on Saturday at 9:30 a.m. on the Food Network, although future episodes look like reruns. Visit Jamie’s Web site at More on the accompanying book for the series here.


Chubbypanda said...

That frightens me. Pigeons are delicious. Street pigeons are like flying rats; delicious but potentially deadly. Not that I've eaten rat. Hmmm...

foodhoe said...

LOL that short statement you made in the beginning about your dad hunting down pigeons really captured our attention Chef Ben! Whew, what a visual...

Chef Ben said...

ChubbyPanda, I think the pigeons in Hawaii have a pretty good life pecking on fruit trees, etc. We lived up in the valley, so not really "street."

Foodhoe, it wasn't too hard for my dad to catch them. They're not the brightest birds in the flock! ;-)