Pond to plate: dinner is paradise

Braided Rivers head chef Josh Martin watches hunter Dean Rattray taste Chinese Peking Duck with...
Braided Rivers head chef Josh Martin watches hunter Dean Rattray taste Chinese Peking Duck with Thai braised duck leg, as Fish & Game NZ communications adviser Richard Cosgrove films for the Pond to Plate promotion as part of the 2018 Game Bird Food Festival.
Mid Canterbury hunter Dean Rattray and Braided Rivers head chef Josh Martin feature in a Fish & Game New Zealand promotion about the annual Game Bird Food Festival, which runs during duck season.

Braided Rivers head chef Josh Martin displays his Chinese Peking Duck with Thai braised duck leg...
Braided Rivers head chef Josh Martin displays his Chinese Peking Duck with Thai braised duck leg dish.

The men were a big part of ''Pond to Plate'' filming, but the star of the shoot was a paradise shelduck, harvested at Mitcham, near Ashburton, on opening weekend and cooked at a restaurant in Ashburton. Mr Martin cooked it to perfection in a manner similar to the Game Bird Food Festival dish offered at the restaurant and served it to Mr Rattray to enjoy, all in front of the camera.

The final mouthwatering dish was Chinese Peking Duck with Thai braised duck leg. The portion used half a duck. The crispy-skin Chinese-style duck breast was served medium, wrapped in a house-made crepe with an aromatic salad pomme gaufrettes, spring onion relish, pumpkin miso puree and celeriac plum remoulade.

Fish & Game NZ South Island communications adviser Richard Cosgrove was in Ashburton filming the final section of the promotion. He said the festival, in its 12th year, gave hunters a chance to get their bird cooked by a professional.

But for non-hunters it was a chance to enjoy a game bird dish.

There were 21 restaurants participating throughout the country, Mr Cosgrove said.

The festival was not just about dining out, but how good game birds were as a natural, tasty food source for people to cook at home. There were recipes on the Fish & Game NZ website.

Mr Rattray was filmed shooting at Mitcham, near Ashburton on opening weekend.

He was hunting with four friends on private property and they bagged 66 birds.

It was the first time Mr Martin had cooked a wild game bird in a commercial kitchen and even with the extra pressure of filming, the result was perfect.

''Nice flavours, tender as ... beautiful,'' Mr Rattray said between bites, tasting the dish.

''Best duck I've eaten, apart from my smoked ones, of course,'' he said.

Mr Rattray usually smokes his game birds before slowly cooking them on the barbecue.

He bones out the bird and uses a mustard powder, chilli, mixed herbs and honeydew rub with couple of splashes of port.

He then dry-cures the bird for four or five days, before it is smoked.

It is then refrigerated in an airtight container for 12 hours before being slowly grilled on the barbecue.

People can share their own game bird ''classic home cook'' recipes by emailing them to Fish & Game NZ.

- By Toni Williams

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