The 12th of August heralds the start of the game-shooting season in the UK, and what better way to start than with the glorious grouse. Naturally raised on the beautiful, purple heather-clad moorlands of Britain, the glorious grouse shares many secrets. Did you know, for instance, that the bird only breeds on a small number of specific moors in northern Britain? Or that the moors themselves are rarer than tropical rainforests? Were you aware that a huge amount of conservation is required simply to keep the moors in a natural state so the birds can breed? This is what makes grouse so special – and a welcome addition to any dinner party menu. Grouse is a healthy meat, it’s low in cholesterol and high in nutrients and protein – and it’s totally delicious. What’s more, you can generally buy it from butchers and game dealers throughout the country. Give your local butcher a couple of days’ notice and he’ll be sure to supply some delicious, oven-ready birds.
Phil Vickery from ITV’s Good Morning says; “Grouse requires very little effort to prepare, and in my book it has such an intense flavour that a powerful accompaniment like ketchup works very well indeed.”
Why not try our simple recipe* below:
Roast Grouse with Spiced Pear and Sweet Potato Ketchup
Preparation time: 15 minutes
Cooking: 15 -20 minutes plus resting.
- 4 fresh grouse
- 250g soft, very ripe pears; peeled, halved, cored and chopped
- 100ml cider vinegar
- 100ml water
- ½ teaspoon ground allspice
- ½ teaspoon ground cloves
- 2 x10g good-quality vegetable stock cubes, crumbled
- 50ml olive oil
- 75g muscovado sugar
- 250g sweet potato, peeled and very finely chopped
- 1 tbsp cornflour, mixed with a little cold water
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 50g unsalted butter
- 2 tbsps of any oil
Put the pears in a saucepan with the vinegar, 100ml water, spices, stock cubes, olive oil, and sugar and cook for 15 minutes until they become a light pulp.
Cook the sweet potato in a saucepan of boiling water for 30 minutes, until very soft and overcooked. Drain well and add to the cooked pears, followed by enough water to cover and cook for another 15 minutes. Puree in a blender or food processor until it turns into a smooth sauce.
Return to the pan and stir in the cornflour mixture, cook until thickened and season well with salt and pepper. The end result should resemble thick double cream.
Preheat the oven to 220C/Gas mark 7.
Heat the butter with the oil in an ovenproof frying pan until foaming and a nutty brown colour. Season the grouse inside and out, place in the pan, and cook for one minute or until browned.
Transfer the pan to the oven and roast for five minutes. Turn each bird onto the other side, spoon over the buttery juices and roast for a further five minutes. Finally, turn the birds’ breast up, again spoon the butter over the birds and roast for another 5 minutes.
Remove the pan from the oven, place the bird breast side down on a warm plate, cover loosely with foil, and leave to rest in a warm place for 15 minutes.
Transfer the bird onto a chopping board. Using a sharp knife, slice through the skin where the leg is attached to the breast, pull the leg back on itself so that the ball pops out of the socket joint and carefully pull the leg away.
To remove the breast, carefully slice down the breast bone, continuing to cut along the wing then cut through the wing joint. Gently peel the flesh away from the crown – the meat should be nice and pink. Repeat on the other side.
Cover the legs and breast meat with foil and keep warm while you repeat with the remaining birds.
To serve, cross the two legs on a warm plate, then lay the two breasts on top, with a small bowl of the ketchup on the side – simple and to the point.
*The recipe is from Phil Vickery and Simon Boddy’s book Game: New ways to prepare, cook and cure