This is a traditional roast grouse recipe. At the start of the grouse season simple roasting is the best way for a young bird with traditional bread sauce and game chips. Grouse meat is the darkest of all the game birds, a deep red which gives dishes an autumnal feel.
4 young grouse
Salt and pepper
8 juniper berries washed and crushed
8 sprigs thyme
8 rashers streaky bacon
A little fat for roasting
A couple of handfuls root vegetables
Watercress leaves for your garnish
For the bread sauce
400ml (131⁄2fl oz) milk
1 white onion studded with 5 whole cloves
4 slices white bread, crushed
A good pinch mixed ground spice
Salt and pepper
For the game chips
1 large frying potato, such as Maris Piper
Oil for deep frying
For the gravy
200ml (7fl oz) veal/game stock
A good splash sloe gin
100ml (31⁄2fl oz) light red wine
How to cook the traditional roast grouse recipe
To make the bread sauce
Bring the milk to the boil with the studded onion in it, take off the boil heat gently letting the onion infuse for about 20 minutes, then remove the onion and add the breadcrumbs, spice and seasoning. Continue to heat through until thickened and creamy. Set aside and keep warm.
To cook the game chips
Peel the potato and slice it very thinly with a mandoline or sharp knife. Rinse thoroughly in cold water two or three times (this will help to remove the starch and make them crispier). Pat dry with a kitchen towel and deep-fry for two to three minutes, until golden brown. Season with a little table salt and set aside.
To cook the grouse
Preheat the oven to 200°C/400°F/Gas Mark 6. Season inside and the skin well with salt and pepper, put two crushed juniper berries inside the cavities of each bird, tuck a sprig of thyme under each leg and lay two rashers of streaky bacon over the breast of each grouse.
Colour in a roasting tin with a little oil. When sealed on all sides, roast for between 16 and 20 minutes, depending on size. Remove from tin and keep warm. Add the root vegetables to the roasting tin. Tip any juices from the birds into the tin as well as any offal – this will add to the flavour – and scrape up any sediment that’s in the bottom of the tin. Add the stock, sloe gin and red wine. Simmer gently for five to six minutes, pass through a fine sieve into a saucepan, and correct the seasoning as needed. You’ve been working hard, so it’s a good idea to reward yourself with a slug of the sloe gin now!
Presenting the grouse
You can keep the grouse whole, or carve off the legs and breasts if preferred. Serve with the game chips, a few watercress leaves to garnish, and the warmed gravy and bread sauce on the side. Arrange the streaky bacon next to each bird on a warm dinner plate.