Roast grouse is the crowning glory of Jose Souto’s wild mushroom and truffle risotto. What better way to celebrate the meat’s earthy flavour? Serves four.

I love cooking grouse. It has a distinct flavour that sets it apart from all other gamebirds. This is due to its diet of mainly heather, which gives the meat an earthy and herby flavour.

A good falconer friend of mine, Nick Havemann-Mart, once said to me: “You have to admire red 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 just about sums up the hardiness of these birds and the frequent remoteness of their habitat.

Roast grouse risotto with wild mushrooms and truffles

Here we have a simple wild mushroom and truffle risotto paired with roast 
grouse. Do not overcook the grouse 
crown, leave it pink. If overcooked, like any dark-fleshed game, it will have a livery taste that is not appetising.

Drain the dried mushrooms from the stock once they have infused and discard them, then finish the risotto by folding in some sautéed fresh wild mushrooms.

Ingredients

  • 2 grouse
  • salt and pepper
  • olive oil
  • 60g butter
  • 2.3 litres chicken stock
  • 50g dried wild mushrooms
  • ½ onion
  • ½ stick celery
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 300g risotto rice
  • 200g fresh wild or selection of mushrooms
  • 30g parmesan, freshly grated
  • 1tsp of chopped chives
  • 1tsp truffle oil

Method

  1. Remove the wishbones from the grouse and remove the legs to leave a crown.
  2. Chop up the legs, season and fry in some oil and butter. Once coloured well, place in 300ml of stock and bring to boil, then simmer and allow to reduce slowly until it reaches a light coating consistency. This will be used for your jus to drizzle over the dish at the end.
  3. Bring the rest of the stock to the boil and add the dried wild mushrooms. Cook at a simmer until the mushrooms have rehydrated and are soft — about 10 minutes — then remove from heat and leave the mushrooms in the stock until you are ready to use it. Keep warm.
  4. Finely chop the onion, celery and garlic and sweat them in a little oil until soft, then add rice and cook for a further five minutes on a low heat, stirring so that the rice is coated in oil.
  5. Pull off the heat for now. Season and pan-fry the grouse crowns in a little butter and oil to colour them well. Baste as they fry to colour them, then place in oven for eight to 10 minutes. Keep them pink. Once cooked, remove from oven and allow to rest for six to eight minutes.
  6. While the grouse are cooking and resting, place the rice back on the stove to warm up. Strain the mushrooms out of the stock and discard. Bring stock to boil, add a third of the stock to the rice and allow the rice to take up the stock, stirring slowly.
  7. Once all the stock has been taken up, add another third of the stock to the rice and again allow the rice to take up the stock, stirring slowly.
  8. Add the last third of the stock to the rice and it should come together as a creamy consistency with the rice just cooked. Remove from heat.
  9. Stir in the Parmesan. Melt a little butter in a pan and quickly cook the fresh mushrooms. Drain any excess butter and stir into the rice.
  10. Add the chives and truffle oil to the rice, folding in carefully.
  11. Cut the breasts off the grouse crowns and place onto a clean cloth or kitchen paper to take up any excess juices. Place the risotto into the centre of a bowl, with a grouse breast on top.
  12. Remove the legs from the reduced stock by passing through a sieve. Spoon a little of this jus over the roast grouse risotto.