It’s just gone 9am when the phone rings. I’m in between the school run and the nursery run. As usual I’m running – after D who is scooting perilously fast for her age, slaloming in and out of the ubiquitous dog poo. Newborn bounces against my chest in the sling and I have a feeling I’ve forgotten to do my bra up. Again.
Then, as it always does when I least want it to, the phone rings. It’s Unhusband. The last time he called this early was to tell me he’d broken down.
‘What’s happened?’ I answer.
‘I’ve got dinner,’ he announces.
FFS. I haven’t even had breakfast and he’s actually calling to talk about dinner.
‘I’ll send you a picture,’ he says and hangs up.
And this is what he sends.
I’m no wildlife expert, but they look like pheasants to me. And they don’t look like they came from a butcher, which unless Unhusband’s taken up shooting, can mean only one thing: roadkill.
I know times are tight. I know it’s the ‘hungry gap’ – the time between the last of the winter crops and the start of the early crops – of which there are still none. All we have left on the allotment are parsnips, and we’ve been eating those about four times a week since February. But roadkill?
Unhusband insists he didn’t kill it. He found it by the road. It would be rude to just leave it there, a waste of good meat. You can’t get much more free range than roadkill, afterall.
We do a deal. I’ll cook it, as long as he plucks. And removes all the gross bits.
That evening, Unhusband sets to work with a bucket of boiling water and some rubber gloves. The feathers are beautiful, it seems a shame to chuck them away. J wants to take them to school. D wants to take them to bed!
Two hours later, the excitement has worn off. Unhusband is still ripping out plumage and muttering something about ‘wishing he’d left the plucking things on the road.’ To be honest, so do I.
We’re all starving, it’ll be midnight before we eat. I whip up some pasta instead.
The pheasants spend a night in the fridge and the next day I consult my old friend Hugh for some advice. Fearnley-Whittingstall that is, not Edwards.
He’s not really a friend, I just like his River Cottage recipes, even if he does overdo the old adjectives.
I haven’t got a flying clue what to do with pheasant, so I follow Hugh’s advice to the letter, and drown the things in half a bottle of wine, then chuck in a load of onion, chorizo and butter beans. Well, more or less.
And here’s how it turned out.
I have to admit, the meat was slightly gamey for my taste, but it was certainly edible and the chorizo really helped. Unhusband loved it, the kids ate some too, and nobody was sick, which is always a bonus. This year I think I’ll try to grow some purple sprouting broccoli though – apparently that’s a good one for filling the hungry gap. Otherwise, who knows what we’ll be eating next – roasted fox, scrambled snake, owl ice-cream, gruffalo crumble…..
Would you eat roadkill?
The River Cottage recipe I used is here.