Out of all the types of feathered game Grouse is generally considered to be the best eating. The grouse season begins on the 12th of August and we now have it in the shop. Cooking Grouse is quite easy and we have some useful tips for you to follow.

The Grouse is a native Scottish bird but is also found in some other moorland areas of the UK. Grouse meat is dark and prized for it’s distinctive rich game taste. The diet of the Grouse is about 95% heather, which gives them their unique flavour. Young birds are best roasted, while older birds work well cooked in a casserole. As with most game Grouse are considered to be a slow food.

“The Glorious Twelfth”

Did you know the origins of the expression “The Glorious twelfth” – the official start of the Grouse season? The slow food foundation has the answer:

Shooting had become enormously popular in Victorian times and, led by Queen Victoria’s purchase of Balmoral on Deeside, wealthy Victorians poured into Scotland from the beginning of August each year for their sporting holidays. The Twelfth of August, the official date that Queen Victoria took up residence at Balmoral, marked the opening of the Grouse Season, and became the greatest day in the social calendar. It is still known as “The Glorious Twelfth”.

Grouse are wild birds, not farmed, they will usually be good quality. Look for birds that are plump, with unblemished, fresh-looking deep red skin.

Cooking Grouse

Cooking time will depend on the age of the bird: the younger it is, the less time required. NB You can ask us how old the birds on the counter are: young birds can be cooked in as little as 20 minutes, while older birds may take up to 40 minutes and are best in a casserole rather than roasted.

This recipe serves four

Ingredients:
4 grouse from Morley Butchers (1 per person) including their livers
Sprigs thyme enough for 2 or 3 in each bird
100g  butter
6 rashers of streaky bacon (1.5 each)
50ml (2 fl oz) dry sherry
300ml (1/2 pint) well-flavoured meat or game stock
Salt and pepper

For the bread sauce:
425ml (3/4 pint) milk
half an onion, roughly chopped
4 cloves
1 bayleaf
120g fresh breadcrumbs
50g (2oz) butter
1 tbsp double cream
salt, pepper and nutmeg

For the game chips:
3-4 good size Maris Piper (or similar such as King Edward) potatoes
salt. (Good quality plain lightly salted crisps or potato chips will make a good substitute here)

Method for Cooking Grouse

Cooking Grouse does not take to long so  you can cook the bread sauce, games chips and any vegetables in advance

To cook the grouse preheat the oven to 200°C/400°F/Gas 6. Put a roasting tin in the oven to heat, ready to take the grouse. Wipe the birds inside with a kitchen towel. Next season the birds inside and out with plenty of salt and pepper and place the sprigs of thyme and a knob of butter inside each bird.

Before you place in to roast, brown the birds all over in a frying pan. Then with breast side up cover them with the bacon and the rest of the butter.

As the birds will have started cooking they will only need another 13 – 16 minutes in the oven. Baste them at least twice while they are cooking

The aim is to serve the Grouse quite rare. If you poke the breasts you can tell if they are done – too soft put them back for another minute or two. Don’t forget they will continue to cook when removed from the oven.  Let them rest for at least ten minutes before serving.

Deglaze the roasting tin with the sherry (or you could use red wine) and some good quality stock and reduce this to a rich tasting gravy.

Each bird should be served on a round of fried bread (It will soak up the tasty juices). Fry the bread rounds in the butter you used to roast the birds. If you have them the livers can be fried in this too and served alongside or spread on the bread.

Serving suggestions

Garnish with lots of watercress and serve the other accompaniments in separate dishes. Cranberry or redcurrant jelly goes well with the gamey flavours