While turkey remains a firm favourite on the nation's dinner tables this Christmas, the CLA says that many families are experimenting with new and different tastes, especially on special occasions such as Boxing Day and New Year's Day.
The Association believes that people are becoming more adventurous when it comes to serving up festive fare, and suggests that a festive lunch is the ideal opportunity to try something different, with pheasant an increasingly popular choice for many. As well as being low in fat, game is a great source of protein and contains large amounts of vitamin B and iron. It is also a good source of potassium for cell maintenance and phosphorus for healthy bones and teeth.
CLA Rural Adviser Donna Tavernor has been eating game for many years and starts by addressing one of the popular misconceptions about pheasant, a food that was particularly popular at Christmas during Victorian times. She says: "Many people appear to be put off from trying game because they believe it has too strong a taste, but the taste of pheasant for example depends on many factors, notably how long the bird has been hung, how it is cooked and the particular recipe you use. There are many recipes using pheasant, and each one produces a different experience, some very mild but tasty. "Personally I think the combination of a traditional turkey roast on Christmas Day, followed by a pheasant casserole later over the break, makes for a wonderful combination and is very reminiscent of a truly traditional Christmas. "I would certainly recommend trying locally produced game. Most butchers, and even supermarkets these days, will be able to supply a wide choice and don't be afraid to ask about taste and suggested recipes, and if in doubt go to a specialist game dealer."
The CLA is a signatory to the Code of Good Shooting Practice, which emphasises that all game is food, and must be treated with due respect at all stages from rearing to retail. The value of shooting to the UK economy is £1.6 billion, it supports the equivalent of almost 70,000 full-time jobs, and 99 percent of all pheasants and partridges are eaten.
Miss Tavernor concluded: "The pheasant in the shop is the result of many hours of hard work by a good number of people, ensuring that welfare and quality are paramount. Game deserves a wider market, so why not try it this year?"