Grouse are the great survivors of the Scottish moors and their diet gives them an earthy flavour that Jose Souto savours with an incredible roast. Serves four.
I love eating grouse. Not only is it one of the most challenging birds to catch as a falconer, but it is also a tricky shot for a Gun. Grouse has a distinct flavour that sets it apart from all other gamebirds. Due to the grouse’s diet, the flavours are robust and earthy. They are one of the best-tasting gamebirds and need to be savoured.
Its arrival on our tables signifies the beginning of the new game season. When my son was three years old, my wife and I had the pleasure of spending time in the realm of the grouse — the moors of the Highlands, near Inverness.
I will never forget that first experience of being out on the moor — the sights of the rolling hill, the sounds of the cackling grouse as they made their escape and the smells of the flowering heather and gorse. There are few places that have the smells and ambiance of the upland moor. It is a special place — wild, windy, cold and, most of all, unpredictable. No wonder the grouse calls it home.
As a good falconer friend of mine, Nick Havemann-Mart, once said: “You have to admire the grouse’s ability to survive. Not only do they live in some of the coldest and most inhospitable places in the UK, but they also eat heather, a plant that has all the nutritional value of Astroturf.”
This roasted grouse recipe is an incredible way to prepare your first birds of the season and eating grouse this way is delicious.
Roast grouse with a black-pudding faggot
- 4 Grouse
- 100g Cumberland sausage meat
- 50g black pudding, diced
- Good sprig of chopped thyme
- Salt and pepper
- 200g caul fat
- Olive oil
- 20g butter
- ½ onion, finely chopped
- 1 clove garlic, finely chopped
- 100ml red wine
- 1.5 litres dark, good-quality chicken or game stock
- Remove wishbones from the grouse, take off the legs to leave the crowns and remove all the skin from the legs. Preheat the oven to 180°C/gas mark 4.
- Mince or chop up all the leg meat, place in a bowl, add the sausage meat, black pudding and thyme. Mix well. Season and then roll into four equal-sized balls.
- Wrap each ball in a piece of caul fat, trimming off any excess. Overlap well and leave the overlap at the bottom.
- Fry off the bones and skin in a little hot oil. Once coloured well, remove from the pan.
- Reheat the pan with more oil. Season the grouse crowns and fry off to seal well on all sides. Halfway through sealing, add the butter and baste the grouse. Place the grouse crowns onto a roasting tray.
- In the same pan, add a little more oil and the onion, allowing it to fry and colour. Then add the garlic, bones and red wine. Bring to a boil. Reduce by half, then add the stock. Bring to the boil again, then simmer and allow to reduce by three-quarters.
- Add a little oil to a small, shallow saucepan. Fry off the sausage meatballs to seal off all over. Once sealed, drain off the oil. Add a small amount of the reducing stock to the meatballs, so it comes a quarter of the way up. Cover with foil and place in the oven for eight minutes.
- Once the meatballs are cooked, leave to one side. Strain the left-over juices and add to the reducing stock. When the sauce is to the consistency that allows it to coat the back of a spoon lightly, sieve the stock. Keep it covered and warm.
- Place the grouse in the oven for seven to nine minutes, keeping them pink. Once cooked, remove and allow to rest for six to eight minutes.
- To serve, remove the breasts from the crowns. Plate with the faggot, sauce and well-buttered mash.