I’d been trying to get hold of some grouse to cook ever since the Glorious Tweltfth but drew a blank at my local butcher’s and farmer’s market. But then I discovered a fantastic website called Fine Food Specialist and had a chat with the owner Drogo Montagu (lovely guy, former chef, new dad) and before I could say ‘Pull’ I was rustling up this lovely recipe.
I’ve used young grouse, which are very small and very tender. But you have to be careful with the cooking – high and quick, otherwise you’ll be eating shoe leather. Older grouse are best cooked slowly, in a casserole or slow cooker. Also, be aware that you might find a shot pellet or two – I almost took a filling out on one in my bird.
For the grouse
2 young grouse
6 rashers smoked streaky bacon
1/2 lemon, roughly chopped
1 garlic clove, roughly chopped
2 thyme sprigs
For the hazelnut sauce
50g hazelnuts, roughly chopped
2 shallots, finely chopped
1 tbsp chopped chives
50ml hazelnut oil
1 tsp sherry vinegar, or to taste
1. If they’re still attached, remove the feet from each grouse and pull the white, elastic tendon out with them. Using a very sharp knife, remove the wishbone from each bird. This will make it easier to carve after cooking. Pop half the lemon and half the garlic into the cavity of each bird then season the cavity with salt and pepper.
2. Lay three rashers of steaky bacon side by side across a work surface then lay a grouse on top at a right angle, breast side down. Bring over the rashers and tuck one behind the wings, one behind the legs and the middle one wrapped around the back. Secure with string.
3. Add a little oil to a large frying pan then brown the birds all over, constantly basting as the bacon fat renders down.
4. Remove from the pan and transfer to a roasting dish. Put in an oven preheat to 180C/Gas 4 for 8-10 mins. Young grouse need to be cooked rare – pink at the most – otherwise the meat becomes very tough.
5. Meanwhile, make the dressing. In a pestle and mortar or mini-food processor, combine the chopped hazelnuts, shallots, chives and hazelnut oil in a bowl. Add a splash of sherry vinegar and season with salt and pepper to taste.
6. Serve with roasted chunks of beetroot, celeriac and squash and stir-fried spring cabbage.