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Game cookery expert Ralph Skripek offers tips on smoking meat and shares a recipe for Elderberry Chutney

PUBLISHED: 00:00 02 November 2015 | UPDATED: 18:26 13 November 2015

The catch of the day ready to eat, photographed at Carsington Water

The catch of the day ready to eat, photographed at Carsington Water

as supplied

Leading local game cookery expert Ralph Skripek looks back over 2015 and suggests some seasonal fare with a difference

At home in the Derbyshire countryside At home in the Derbyshire countryside

Ashbourne-born chef Ralph Skripek enjoys nothing more than combining his love of outdoor sports and the Derbyshire countryside with his expertise in cooking game. After studying catering at Buxton College, Ralph travelled the world as a self-employed chef. It was in 2002 that he decided to return home and put down roots and he started his own tea room, restaurant and catering business – The Butler’s Pantry – in a pretty Grade II listed building in Mickleover on the outskirts of Derby. The Butler’s Pantry has now grown from an initial team of three to 20 staff members.

As well as running his busy bistro and catering business, Ralph still manages to find time to fish and shoot, including the produce on the menu. His book, Wild Chef, promotes this link between the countryside and cooking the food harvested from it and demystifies the art of successfully preparing and presenting produce for the table that can present problems for the unwary chef.

Derbyshire Life caught up with Ralph en route to one of his favourite fishing haunts, Carsington Water.

As Christmas approaches Ralph suggests incorporating home smoked fish and game alongside smoked figs, smoked walnuts in caramel, smoked bacon, seasonings and even warmed chutneys into a selection of delicious dishes that are sure to impress your guests and offer something that little bit different.

A selection of meats and fruit chutney  - photographed in a local field! A selection of meats and fruit chutney - photographed in a local field!


To smoke your choice of produce: take a deep heavy roasting tin, a cooling rack, some foil, and wood chippings (those stocked for pet reptiles by your local pet shop are ideal). Line the bottom of the roasting tin with the wood chippings and cover them with the rack so that the meat/figs etc will be suspended above the smoky bed of chips. Place the foil over the roasting tin and crimp the edges. Place on the stove on full heat for 3-4 minutes maximum. Uncover, and finish larger cuts of meat/fish in the oven.

This is called Hot Smoking and gives a subtle hint of smoke to the food.


An ideal condiment to serve with cold game, pâtés or cheese.


Half a finely chopped red onion

2tbsp sugar

1tbsp red currant jelly

1 windfall apple, finely chopped

50ml cider vinegar

Handful of foraged elderberries or blackberries

5 dried figs, chopped

Add all the above ingredients to a large pan, bring to the boil, then simmer for approximately 15 minutes, leave to cool.

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