As most of us know, the red grouse is unique to Britain. It makes a tasty dish and is most commonly served roasted with game chips and bread sauce. Chef Matt Woodley's red grouse recipe is a take on this British classic and uses additional seasonal ingredients, including watercress and blackberries, to give it a fresh twist. It does require a bit of preparation, but it's sure to impress, especially if you serve it to dinner guests. Serves four.

Ingredients

For the roast grouse:

4 young red grouse
salt and pepper
4 sprigs of thyme
4 cloves of garlic
8 bruised juniper berries
50 g butter for basting

For the liver en croute:

4 livers from red grouse
Cooking oil
½ tsp thyme, chopped salt and pepper
25ml brandy
50g butter, diced
2 slices white bread

For the bread purée

200ml milk
½ onion, diced
1 clove garlic
1 sprig thyme
1 bayleaf
5 black peppercorns
6 slices stale/dry white bread

For the garnish

200g water
200g sugar
200g blackberries
A couple handfuls young watercress leaves

Method

  1. Pre-heat the oven to 230°C.
  2. Season the grouse with salt and pepper inside and out, and fill the cavities with the thyme, garlic and juniper berries. Pour some oil into a medium-hot pan and place the grouse in the pan breast-side down, turning when coloured (about two minutes) until the bird is coloured all over. Add the butter to the pan, allowing it to melt, then spoon over the birds before placing them in the oven for 15 minutes.
  3. Remove the grouse from the oven, place on a cooling rack, pour over the cooking juices and allow to rest for five minutes before serving.
  4. To make the livers en croute, sauté the livers in a little oil with the chopped thyme, salt, pepper and brandy for one minute on each side. Place in a food processor with 50g diced butter and blitz until it becomes a smooth paste.
  5. Use a 6cm diameter cutter to cut four rings out of the two slices of white bread. Fry in oil until crisp on each side, like fried bread, and put to one side.
  6. To make the bread purée, heat the milk with the onion, garlic, thyme, bay leaf and peppercorns in a pan. When the milk comes to the boil, remove the pan from the heat and leave the liquid to infuse for 10 minutes.
  7. Meanwhile, remove the crusts from the bread and pulse in a food processer to make crumbs. Pass the milk through a fine sieve and add to the bread a little at a time until you have a purée. Set the food processor to high power to make the purée smooth.
  8. To make the garnish, bring the sugar and water to the boil, then leave to simmer for five minutes. Remove from the heat, allow to cool a little, then add the blackberries. Leave the fruit in the poaching liquor until ready to serve. To serve, spoon the bread purée on to a plate, spread the croute with the liver mousse and place on top of the puree. Remove the meat from the breast bones of the grouse and place on top of the croute. Garnish the plate with the poached blackberries and the watercress.
This red grouse recipe is by Chef Matt Woodley who has worked for many top chefs including Gordon Ramsay. He is the resident chef at the  Plowden Arms in Oxfordshire. Matt prides himself on using seasonal and local ingredients to create the historical dishes that bring his menu to life.