November 22nd, 2011
Grouse are a popular game bird, about the same size as Partridge. They are completely wild and have resisted all attempts to breed them, therefore their natural, moorland habitats, mainly heather (which they like to eat) have to be carefully controlled in order for them to bred successfully. The UK shooting season for Grouse starts on 12th August and finishes on 10th December.
Because Grouse are harder to come by than Pheasant, which do breed in captivity, I was delighted to find cheap Grouse in the butchers today. The Grouse were a little high, but £3 each is a complete bargain – normally they cost three times as much.
Pot Roast Grouse (one Grouse per person):
4 slices of smoked, streaky bacon (chopped)
1 pint of home made duck stock (chicken would also do)
1 large onion (chopped)
2 medium carrots (chopped)
2 sticks of celery (chopped)
6 pieces of garlic (chopped)
1 dessertspoonful of tomato purée
a small squirt of anchovy paste
a pinch of ground chillies
1 dessertspoonful of plain flour
2 teaspoons of ground rosemary, sage and thyme (with sea salt and a few black peppercorns)
2 bay leaves
half a glass of red wine
a splash of Madeira (to taste) or Port
a splash of Balsamic Vinegar
Because the Grouse was a little bit stinky, I thought it would cook best as a pot roast (cooked in stock). I had some homemade duck stock in the freezer, but chicken stock would also be good – use my recipe here with chicken or duck bones.
In a a suitable sized, cast iron casserole (with lid), brown the Grouse all over in a little goose fat or olive oil (do chop the feet off first).
Set it aside the bird and cook the onion and bacon, with a pinch of chilli, in the same pan.
Once the onions have gone translucent, add the rest of the vegetables and cook them together for a few minutes.
Stir in the flour and herbs, return the Grouse to the pot, with the bay leaves and pour on the stock and wine. Squeeze in half the tomato purée and a little squirt of anchovy paste. Bring the liquid up to simmering temperature and put the lid on. Place the casserole into a preheated oven at 100º C. Cook gently for half an hour before tasting and do turn the bird over in the pot. At this point add a very small amount of Madeira and more tomato purée, if you think it needs it.
Cook for a further 30 minutes and remove the Grouse – rest it and keep it warm.
Skim off any fat from the stock and reduce it on top of the stove to thicken it a bit. Add more seasoning, purée and a little Balsamic Vinegar to taste.
Serve the Grouse with the sauce and celeriac balls or mashed potato.