In general, young birds bought before Christmas are more tender than older ones, and are best roasted or grilled. Older birds are better cooked slowly such as casseroling or braising.
Pheasant Usually sold in a brace – a hen and cock – young birds need only quick roasting and benefits from covering with a layer of streaky bacon or regular basting during cooking. Older birds are great for braises or casseroles or even in a curry.
Venison is usually sold in cuts which are similar to any red meat and can be substituted for beef in most recipes. The most popular cuts are from the back: saddle, loin and fillet. The meat is lean with little fat, so needs careful cooking so fast, hot cooking is the trick for roasting and venison is best served pink. Tougher cuts (shoulder, neck and shin) should be braised or stewed slowly to ensure tender, falling apart meat.
Partridge is ideal for roasting, braising or simply spatchcock and grill. As with most game, a smother of butter or streaky bacon ensures moist meat and be careful not to overcook – half an hour roasting is usually fine.
Rabbit is tender enough to roast and is excellent in casseroles and stews. It can be substituted for chicken (though has less fat). Treat the saddle as breast meat and the legs as drumsticks.
All game meat is lean, so take care it doesn't dry out during cooking. Pale game such as pheasant or partridge tends to be served well done, but grouse, venison, hare and wild duck are often served pink.