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Grouse is something I love to cook. For one thing (not that we’re ever concerned) it’s cholesterol free. When I eat grouse, I can feel almost instantly feel the rejuvenation. I relish the next appointment with the doctor, his congratulations about my health prospects and my gloating to friends about the-temple-that-is my-body. Just because I ate grouse. My dentist does not recommend it so much, however, as it sometimes does contain lead shot.
The main things for me, however, is that in terms of provenance, you couldn’t get much better. Every grouse that finds its way onto a plate has lived an entirely wild life, untouched by human hand. Eating grouse is the biproduct of a traditional way of life, which happens to be a huge boost to the UK economy and a great source of rural employment. Yes, I’m talking about field sports. “Haters gonna hate” and all that, but if you really disagree with people eating and shooting grouse, think about where those ‘value’ sausages you buy in the supermarket come from. In terms of quality of life, the grouse beats the ‘factory’ pig. If only pigs coud fly, perhaps they’d enjoy a higher calling as the prey of the sporting enthusiast…
The flavour of grouse also presents a fantastic opportunity because of its strength and gaminess. Therefore it can stand up to strong flavoured accompaniments and full bodied wines. However this is something rarely exploited. The norm for grouse is that it is served roasted on the bone, with its predetermined trimmings, not a far cry away from your Christmas Turkey.
The problem I have with this, however, is the on the bone aspect. The struggle I have trying to elegantly carve a grouse on my plate is immense. More often than not the bird seems to resist, kicking a potato into my neighbours lap.
How I like to cook grouse:
For me, it’s best taken off the bone. This takes away the hassle of hacking away at your dinner:
• Take the fillets off the breast bone (with the skin). Bring them to room temperature, season them and oil the skin slightly.
• Heat a lightly oiled pan to smoking point and add the grouse breasts, skin side down. Hold each breast down so that the skin is seared for c.30 seconds to prevent it from shrinking.
• Cook for 2 minutes or so before turning and cooking for another minute.
• Salt the skins and place in the oven on a high heat for 3-5 minutes, skin-side up.
• Leave to stand at room temperature for 1 minute before serving.
The legs are easier. Just season well and a slug of oil. Cook in the oven under a medium heat for c. 10-12 minutes, shaking frequently to prevent them from sticking.
This should then be served with (quite a sweet) rich jus. Use redcurrant jelly or something similar to sweeten the jus if you like, as this will go well with the richness of the meat.