James Lowe makes the most of autumn’s bounty
Grouse can sometimes be served too reverentially. There is a common assertion that to fully respect the bird, it must be served whole, with bread sauce, and all the trimmings. At Lyle’s, I like to find interesting ways to serve game that make it more approachable.
People are scared of trying game and I understand why—there is talk of strong flavours, stories of a bird being left to hang by the neck, only to be eaten when it rots away and falls to the ground, and pheasant cooked so long, it resembles dehydrated space food rather than the juicy and flavoursome meat it should, and can easily be.
3 corn cobs
8 sprigs of lemon thyme
200g chicken stock
White wine vinegar
100g grouse liver
100g duck liver
Ask your butcher to prepare the grouse for you so that the crowns are separated from the legs, and the livers set aside.
Put a heavy based frying pan on the heat and fry the grouse and duck livers in 50g butter until coloured lightly. When the livers are nearly cooked, add the cream to the pan and remove from the heat. Blend the contents of the pan together in a food processor, season with salt, then chill.
Steam the corn, still in the husk, for 5 mins. Allow to cool.
Rub a little vegetable oil over the crowns and season with fine salt. In a large heavy based casserole pot, place the birds so that they are all lying on the same side and fry until coloured.
Turn them to fry the other side, then add 50g butter to the pan and baste all over the crowns. When the butter starts to burn, tip away and add another 50g butter. Repeat the basting and add 5 sprigs lemon thyme.
After the birds have coloured nicely, place them in to a preheated 100C oven. After 5 mins check the internal temperature of the breast at its thickest part—it should be around 55C. Remove the crowns and leave to rest on a plate.
Season the legs and put them into the pot and back on the heat. Fry the skin side until dark, flip the legs and remove from the heat again. Wait 30 secs and remove the legs to rest with the crowns.
Pour in 200g chicken stock and boil in the pan with the roasting butter. Reduce until it tastes great, probably by half. Add a splash of vinegar.
In a food processor, mix 250g butter with 60g honey until creamed together, fully combined.
Set up a grill, brush the corn with the honey butter and roll over the grill to mark and char the kernels. Once coloured all over, cut the kernels from the cob. Mix with a little more honey butter, add the picked leaves from the remaining thyme and season with salt and black pepper.
To serve, take the breasts from the bone and trim off any oxidised or grey meat. This can happen a lot—it’s basically where the flesh has come in to contact with the ruptured insides of the bird. It will taste unpleasant, and we don’t want that!
Spoon some corn on the plate, add some of the liver mix and then cover with more corn. This will mean the liver melts out into the corn mix as you eat. Add the breasts and the legs, seasoned with salt. Chop the cobnuts and scatter on the corn. Pour a spoon of the roasting juices over everything.
Recipe: James Lowe
Image: John Holdship