Celebrate the Glorious Twelfth in the kitchen and at the table.
Ovens at the ready, flames a flicker – grouse season starts today and all over the country chefs are poised and gourmands are licking their lips. Prepare for a feast it’s the Glorious Twelfth.
Roast Grouse with Roast Baby Potatoes
At the start of the season when birds are young and privileged palates are as yet un-jaded by taste of game there is no need to get fancy. It simply does not get better than roast grouse.
I know it’s traditional to serve grouse with game chips but at this time of year I love roast baby potatoes, Charlotte are great for roasting. Just boil them for no more than a couple of minutes, drain them well, let them sit for a few minutes then shoogle them in a pan with a tablespoon of flour and roast them for about 40mins. Far less fuss than game chips – save those for restaurant eating.
4 Grouse (1 per person)
8 strips pancetta or streaky bacon
Salt & Pepper
Glass of white wine, or vermouth
Preheat the oven to 220C/425F/Gas 7.
Prep your birds. If you haven’t had the pleasure before then you’ll find Youtube awash with helpful videos to assist you. Pat the flesh dry with kitchen roll. Rub with olive oil, bind with 2 rashers of pancetta per bird and season with salt and pepper.
Heat olive oil in a roasting tin to a high heat and brown each bird on all sides. Place in the oven for 10mins for med-rare. Cover with foil and rest for a further 10mins, reserving any juices from the birds.
For the gravy, simply heat your roasting tin on a hot flame and de-glaze the pan with a glass of white wine or vermouth, scraping at the sticky bits as you go. Add the reserved juices, taste for seasoning and that should be about it.
Serve with roast baby potatoes, bread sauce and new season kale.
Pastilla is a traditional Moroccan dish, the north African answer to the Cornish pasty made with pigeon and warka, or in this case filo pastry and grouse. It’s sweet and exotic, definitely one for more adventurous cooks and absolutely perfect to pop in a hamper for a shoot lunch, or an impressive dinner party starter.
Serves 3 as a main (6 as a starter)
For the filling
4 grouse (or 2 medium-sized chicken legs, about 500g)
3 red onions, thinly sliced
½ bunch of coriander
½ bunch of parsley
A pinch of saffron
1 tbsp honey
1 cinnamon stick
150g almonds, toasted and roughly chopped
A splash of orange flower water
For the pastry
1kg large filo sheets or warka pastry
2 tbsp icing sugar
1 tbsp ground cinnamon
In a wide pan, melt 100g of the butter, then add the grouse, onions, herbs tied into a bunch, saffron, honey and cinnamon stick. Cover with water, season well with salt and cook over a low heat for 45mins-1hr.
Remove grouse and turn up the heat; reduce the mixture while you remove the meat from the bones, shred it and add back into the pan. Discard the herbs and cook until the liquid is below the level of everything else. Add the chopped almonds.
Break the eggs into a bowl and gently whisk, pour two thirds into the grouse mixture and stir, cooking over a medium heat until little bits of cooked egg appear. Taste and add salt or honey to get it sweet, savoury and exotic. Add a splash of orange flower water. Set aside to cool.
Preheat oven to 150C/300F/Gas 2.
Melt the remaining butter in a small pan. Lay three sheets of filo pastry out on small side plates, and butter each sheet lightly with a pastry brush. Repeat to layer it three times, buttering the filo as you go. Using a slotted spoon, put a sixth of the grouse mixture onto each of the filo piles, leaving the excess liquid behind. Then fold over the sides of the pastry to make a sealed, round parcel. Paint each pastilla with any of the remaining butter and the last of the whisked egg to seal them.
Transfer to a baking tray and bake for 45 minutes until the filo is crisp and brown. Dust with icing sugar and cinnamon and eat while hot.
This recipe was originally published in the Telegraph and I’ve simply adapted it for grouse.
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