The Taste of the Wild

Article: Vedat Başaran Photo: Serkan Eldeleklioğlu Date: January 2014

WILD ANIMALS ARE ONE OF OUR OLDEST SOURCES OF FOOD. REDEFINED LATER AS "GAME", THEY FOUND A SPECIAL PLACE IN OUR TRADITIONAL REPERTOIRE OF GOURMET OFFERINGS.

The Taste of the Wild
The Taste of the Wild

In former times, the hunt and hunting were one of the main activities of both the Ottoman palace and palace circles. Consequently, just as many hunting lodges were built around Istanbul - and have now been surrounded by urban development - so did recipes for game, such as deer, wild duck, partridge and woodcock appear in contemporary cookery books. Even though all this demonstrates a fondness for game meat in that period, it also reveals an Ottoman sensitivity on the subject of hunting, as witnessed by the fact, for example, that hunters are warned against shooting animals during the breeding season in the charter of the Foundation created by Mehmed the Conqueror.
Wild animals roam free by their natural instincts, and, even more importantly, they feed on rich natural and seasonal foodstuffs. Because they are continuously active, their muscles are more fibrous than those of domesticated animals, making their meat both leaner and richer in nutritional value. It is especially rich in unsaturated fat and omega-3 fatty acids.
On the other hand, game animals are one of the foods cooks most shy away from, because their preparation demands such painstaking care. Today we can enjoy these natural flavors in the form of farmed game birds and meats and the products of regulated hunting.

QUAIL IN POMEGRANATE SAUCE WITH CRISPY FENNEL

INGREDIENTS
4 quail
1 small head of fennel
40 g olive oil
20 g pomegranate molasses
10 g fresh thyme
10 g fresh rosemary
10 g garlic
5 g sea salt
10 g black peppercorns, crushed

PREPARATION
Marinate the quail in the olive oil, pomegranate molasses, thyme, rosemary, garlic, sea salt and black pepper mixture for 24 hours. If you are going to grill, four minutes per side will suffice to cook the quail. If you are using the oven, you’ll need close to ten minutes. Quail quickly dries out and loses its flavor, so don’t overcook. Divide the fennel into four and brown quickly in hot oil until crisp.

OVEN-BAKED TANDOOR RABBIT

INGREDIENTS
1 rabbit
2 large onions
1 carrot
5 bulbs of garlic
2 tbsp butter
1 pkg new potatoes
10 g fresh thyme
10 g rosemary
Juice of 2 pomegranates
1 tsp grated orange peel
1/2 cup orange juice
1 g salt salt

PREPARATION
Divide the rabbit into four pieces and place on a baking tray. Add one spoonful of the butter, the grated orange rind, garlic, carrot and fresh herbs. Then add a cup of water and the salt and rosemary. Cover with aluminum foil and bake in a 160° C oven for 45 minutes. Remove the foil and bake 5 more minutes at 200° C until ready to serve. Place the remaining butter in a skillet with the orange juice and mandarin juice and cook the potatoes in this mixture for about 15 minutes.

FOR THE SAUCE
Puree the vegetables that cooked with the rabbit in a blender. Then remove to a pot and bring to a boil, adding water if necessary to achieve the desired consistency. Serve with the rabbit.

OVEN-ROASTED WILD GOOSE

INGREDIENTS
1 whole goose
1 large onions
2 carrots
4 red Charleston peppers
Juice of 2 lemons
15 g fresh rosemary
10 g fresh thyme
2/3 cup olive oil
5 g sea salt
5 g black peppercorns

PREPARATION
Rub the goose well with the salt, pepper, olive oil and lemon juice and bake, covered, with the previously peeled and diced carrots in an 180° C oven for about two hours. Then uncover and bake at 200° C for about 10 minutes. Arrange the Charleston peppers on a baking sheet, add the fresh herbs and garlic, drizzle with a little olive oil and bake at 140° C for 80 minutes. Remove from the oven and skin the peppers.

POMEGRANATE-POACHED PEARS

INGREDIENTS
4 pears
175 g sugar
250 g water
Juice of 5 pomegranates
3 cloves
2 sticks of cinnamon
1 lemon

PREPARATION
Peel the pears and let stand in water with the lemon for 10 minutes. Add the pomegranate juice, water and sugar to a pot and simmer over low heat for 15 minutes. Then add the cinnamon, cloves and pears and cook for about 2 hours. Chill and serve.