Autumn invites you to indulge in the ‘la chasse’ (game) menu at your local restaurant.
Apologies to all vegetarians and lovers of Bambi, but Autumn is game season and it works for me.
A typical game dish is served with spätzli (a kind of soft egg noodle), red cabbage, roast chestnuts and pear poached in wine. Occasionally you will find bison and marmot on the menu, but more regularly the choices are:
Cerf – deer (stag)
Chevreuil – venison
Sanglier – wild boar
Chamois – mountain goat
Lièvre – hare
Pigeon – you guessed it
Perdreau – partridge
Canette – duckling
Choose from dishes such as ‘Médaillons d’entrecôte de cerf en croûte de noix’ or ‘Filet de chevreuil au jus de sureau’. My favourite is chevreuil which is always deliciously tender. Just add good wine and great friends and you cannot go wrong.
Look out for restaurants with ‘La Chasse est Arrivée’ signs outside. Game menus are usually available until the end of November. We share a few Geneva restaurants that you can rely on for a great game menu.
If you’d like to try your hand at cooking your own, see the recipe for wild boar stew or ragu from Taste of Savoie below. The main photograph is also courtesy of Taste of Savoie.
HOTEL LES ARMURES, OLD TOWN
Rich in history, in a 17th century residence in the heart of the old town, this a fabulous restaurant to treat visitors to. The game menu includes venison with blueberries and wild boar with Sichuan pepper.
Cosy and laid back, this cafe has an extensive regular menu and game specials such as deer médaillons in raisins and cognac sauce served with game accompaniments or wild board entrecôte with wild mushrooms and accompaniments.
The site is under renovation, so best is to call them to book: 022 735 1111.
LE DIX VINS, CAROUGE
Not far from the Place du Marché, is great all year round, but in autumn their game menu is sublime. The meat is incredibly tender and the usual accompaniments are cooked to perfected, including chestnuts, spätzli, poached pear and red cabbage. Service is great too.
If you’re a bit broke or you love cooking, why not prepare your own la chasse dish? We turned to Caro Blackwell chef, photographer and blogger at Taste of Savoie for inspiration.
She shared her Wild boar stew with us – she used three different recipes as a reference to create her own and she thought it came out very well!
It is especially tasty if made a good 24 hours ahead.
WILD BOAR STEW
1 kg Wild boar shoulder meat chopped into 2cm chunks
flour for coating – seasoned with salt and plenty of pepper
Olive oil for frying
100g bacon lardons
1 large onion – peeled and finely chopped
4 garlic cloves – peeled and finely chopped
2 carrots – peeled and finely diced
2 tsp juniper berries, lightly crushed in a pestle and mortar
2 bay leaves
2 sprigs of rosemary
4 sage leaves
500ml red wine – I used Savoie Jongieux Gamay
400g tin chopped tomatoes
2 tbsp tomato puree
2 tsp caster sugar
2-inch strip of orange rind
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Preheat the oven to 150C/300F/Gas 2
Heat the oil in an ovenproof, heavy-based pan or casserole over a low-medium heat. Add the onion, carrot, and garlic.
Season the flour with salt and pepper. Lightly coat the wild boar chunks in the seasoned flour. Add some olive oil to a separate pan over a high heat and add the wild boar pieces. Fry until the meat is golden brown on all sides, you may have to do this in batches.
When the vegetables have softened, add the bacon lardons, bay and sage leaves, rosemary, juniper berries and orange rind to the pan. Cook for about five minutes until the bacon lardons and the vegetables have browned a little around the edges.
Add the browned boar meat to the vegetables. Pour the red wine into the frying pan used to brown the meat. Cook over a medium heat, scraping the bottom of the pan to loosen any charred bits of meat.
Add the tin of chopped tomatoes, tomato purée and sugar to the ragu and stir it through. Cook for two minutes stirring regularly to avoid burning.
Pour the warm wine into the ragu, and add approx 150ml of water and bring to a simmer.
Put the lid on the pan and place in the preheated oven for at least 2 hours, or until the meat is meltingly tender and the liquid reduced. Check once or twice in this time and stir to prevent the meat on the surface drying out.
Caro served the Wild Boar Ragu with Crozets au gratin a pasta from the Savoie region, but it would be great served with any pasta, polenta or creamy mashed potato and a glass of Vin de Savoie Jongieux Gamay