Game for Christmas this year?

The Buccleuch & Queensberry Arms Will Pottinger
The Buccleuch & Queensberry Arms Will Pottinger

A Dumfries and Galloway hotel’s top chef is urging people in the region to break with tradition this Christmas and have game instead of turkey.

The Buccleuch & Queensberry Arms Hotel is urging families to swap the turkey for Scottish game this Christmas, saying it is more cost effective and provides greater benefit to local communities.

Sport shooting already generates £240 million a year to the national exchequer and sustains 11,000 full time jobs in Scotland alone. Buying game for Christmas would support the local economy further, creating jobs and reducing impact on the environment.

There will be more than 10 million turkeys eaten for Christmas dinner this year and it is the first choice for more than three quarters of families (76%). Yet, some supermarket turkeys have been found to rack up 5,319 miles in their journey to our plate, coming as far away as Brazil to satisfy shoppers’ demands for cheaper options.

The hotel, which is located in Thornhill, wants people to instead consider local game birds this year, such as pheasant or a Christmas partridge, which are both reared in Scotland.

In its drive to promote Scottish game, the hotel’s head chef, Will Pottinger, has provided his top five tips on selecting and preparing Scottish produce in the run up to Christmas:

1 -“If you’re not one for shooting your own dinner, the best place to source high quality game is the local butcher’s. They will be happy to help you select the best choice and size for you and your family. For those doing the shooting just be sure to remove as much shot as you can and avoid eating any bits of meat that are overly bruised.

2 - “For those new to game, I’d recommend going for a guinea fowl. This bird is farmed and so you won’t be enjoying the same wild, rustic dinner as with a pheasant, but it’s a less gamey taste and so makes a great introduction.

3 - “It’s best to roast game quickly, maybe just 35-45 minutes depending on the size of the bird. This is why it’s such an easy choice for Christmas day cooking. The meat is darker and so you may struggle to know when it’s cooked. Really the only way to be 100% sure is to invest in a thermometer. You’re looking for between 65-72⁰C for the perfect roast.

4 - “All the usual Christmas trimmings are the same – seasonal root vegetables, potatoes and lashings of cranberry sauce. You can even stuff it like you would a turkey, with sage and onion an acceptable choice. However, I’d recommend stuffing your pheasant or partridge with a couple of clementines. The citrus really complements the meat and will keep it from drying out in the oven.

5 - “For those more partial to roast beef on Christmas day, venison makes a great, tasty alternative that still supports the Scottish economy.”

For those who want to try before they buy, Will and the BQA Hotel offer seasonal and locally sourced game all year round and are now serving their festive menu.