Recipe

Grouse, gem lettuce, bacon & pecans

by Hayden Groves

An impressive dish to honour the Glorious Twelfth

This dish also works well with salsify instead of celeriac, which can be treated in the same way—look out for its appearance at the Market around October.

For more on grouse, read our product of week 

Ingredients

4 grouse
40g butter, softened
8 rashers of good quality streaky bacon
500ml brown chicken stock
2 large potatoes such as maris pipers
350g celeriac
70g butter
1 lemon
75ml red wine
Fine sea salt, to season
75g pecans, broken
12 blackberries
2 baby gem lettuces, cut into quarters and washed

Method

Preheat the oven to 180C. Remove the wishbones and legs from the grouse. Rub the breasts with some softened butter and season all over and inside the carcass with salt and black pepper. Lay 2 rashers of streaky bacon across the breasts and tie gently around to hold the bacon in place and keep the birds’ shapes. Let the birds come up to room temperature—it will help them cook evenly.

Chop the legs roughly and fry in a pan with a splash of oil until golden. Add dark chicken stock and simmer for 30 mins. Pass through a sieve and reserve the liquid.

Peel the potatoes and using a mandolin, cut them into fine slices (think crisps). If you have a ridge cutter it is nice to make some waffle versions, but it’s not a deal breaker. Leave in some cold water for 15 mins to get the starch out.

Wash and peel the celeriac, wash again, then chop into 2cm pieces. Add 50g butter to a pan with a lid, add the celeriac pieces and caramelise on a medium heat until soft and golden (about 15 mins).

Dry the potatoes really well and deep fry at 130C for 2 mins to par-cook them. Remove from the oil and turn the temperature up to 165C, ready to give them a second dip.

To finish the celeriac puree, add 75ml water to the pan and simmer briefly, then puree in a blender until silky. Season with lemon juice and salt to taste.

Place the grouse on a thick-bottomed roasting tray and cook in the hot oven for 16-18 mins, basting half way through and turning the tray. You want to cook them rare, like pigeon—certainly don’t go over medium rare or the flesh will become grey and taste liver-y. Once out of the oven, remove the birds from the tray and allow them to rest for 10 mins.

Add the red wine to the roasting tray and scrape all the sticky debris off the bottom. Simmer on the hob until reduced by two-thirds, add the reserved liquid from the legs, and simmer until naturally thickened to form the finished sauce. Pass through a fine sieve.

Give the potatoes a final fry for 1-2 mins, or until light golden. Drain on an absorbent towel and season lightly with fine sea salt.

Remove the crispy bacon from the breasts of the grouse and finely chop. Add to a pan with 20g butter and the broken pecans over a medium heat for 1 min. Add the gem wedges and coat well in the butter. Add a splash of water and place a tight-fitting lid on for 30 secs. Place the blackberries in the sauce to warm.

Serve the bird whole if you prefer, however I fillet the breasts off the carcass and remove the skin. Serve the breasts on a warm plate with the gem lettuce, sauce and puree. Serve the warm game chips in the centre of the table to share.

Recipe: Hayden Groves