Charles Campion: Real food

Like so many things, it all rather depends on your viewpoint; if you're looking forward to tucking into a roast grouse, then the Glorious Twelfth of August may indeed be glorious, but if on the other hand you're a grouse ... The red grouse, Lagopus lagopus scoticus, is a magnificent creature, and so far it has resisted all of our attempts at domestication. It won't breed to order. It doesn't like living in cages.

An unfeasibly large area of heather is needed to support each pair. This means that the grouse is a genuinely wild bird – unlike pheasants and partridges – and benefits from a completely natural diet. The 2007 grouse season was a great success; Allen's, the London game dealer, sold upwards of 15,000 birds, and the 2008 season also looks most promising. Whether or not the year is good for grouse depends largely on the quality of the spring weather. If there's a cold snap (or indeed a wet snap) at the wrong moment, then the chicks catch cold and die. As usual, various restaurants will be scrapping to serve grouse on the first night of the season, but you will not be enjoying them at their best. You can just about get away with eating grouse within 24 hours of when they were shot, but leave it any longer and they will need to hang for a few days to tenderise. Many dedicated foodies wait until September to eat grouse, reasoning that the young birds will have developed a better flavour. Traditionally grouse is classed as a red meat and therefore eaten rare – a practice which some diners take to extremes by insisting that the grouse is roasted fiercely for a very short time and then served so raw that when you carve the breast the blood trickles down into the crouton on which it was cooked. A grouse pie is much more appealing, with a little steak added to thicken the gravy.

The call of the wild

The arrival of the first grouse on 12 August is the first indication that game is returning to our shops and menus. The next few months will see additions to the roll call – with the season opening for wild ducks, partridges and pheasants. Perhaps because game is not an everyday ingredient, when it does crop up, we tend to reach for a cookbook. The definitive volume is The Game Cookbook written by the irrepressible Clarissa Dickson Wright and Johnny Scott (published by Kyle Cathie, £19.99). The political stance may be dated (there's a recipe called "Bollocks to Blair" featuring roe deer sweetbreads and double cream) but all the recipes are clear and informative. The book lists nine interesting grouse recipes, including casseroled grouse with marmalade.

Life and Style
ebookNow available in paperback
ebooks
ebookPart of The Independent’s new eBook series The Great Composers
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Food & Drink

    Recruitment Genius: Product Advisor - Automotive

    £17000 - £23000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Due to the consistent growth of...

    Recruitment Genius: Sales Administrator - Automotive

    £18000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An opportunity exists for an ex...

    Recruitment Genius: Renewals Sales Executive - Automotive

    £20000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An opportunity exists for an ou...

    Recruitment Genius: Membership Sales Advisor

    £18000 - £26000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The fastest growing fitness cha...

    Day In a Page

    Syrian conflict is the world's first 'climate change war', say scientists, but it won't be the last one

    Climate change key in Syrian conflict

    And it will trigger more war in future
    How I outwitted the Gestapo

    How I outwitted the Gestapo

    My life as a Jew in wartime Berlin
    The nation's favourite animal revealed

    The nation's favourite animal revealed

    Women like cuddly creatures whilst men like creepy-crawlies
    Is this the way to get young people to vote?

    Getting young people to vote

    From #VOTESELFISH to Bite the Ballot
    Poldark star Heida Reed: 'I don't think a single bodice gets ripped'

    Poldark star Heida Reed

    'I don't think a single bodice gets ripped'
    The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

    The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

    Netanyahu knows he can get away with anything in America, says Robert Fisk
    Families clubbing together to build their own affordable accommodation

    Do It Yourself approach to securing a new house

    Community land trusts marking a new trend for taking the initiative away from developers
    Head of WWF UK: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

    David Nussbaum: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

    The head of WWF UK remains sanguine despite the Government’s failure to live up to its pledges on the environment
    Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

    Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

    Set in a mythologised 5th-century Britain, ‘The Buried Giant’ is a strange beast
    With money, corruption and drugs, this monk fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’

    Money, corruption and drugs

    The monk who fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’
    America's first slavery museum established at Django Unchained plantation - 150 years after slavery outlawed

    150 years after it was outlawed...

    ... America's first slavery museum is established in Louisiana
    Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

    Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

    The first 'American Idol' winner on how she manages to remain her own woman – Jane Austen fascination and all
    Tony Oursler on exploring our uneasy relationship with technology with his new show

    You won't believe your eyes

    Tony Oursler's new show explores our uneasy relationship with technology. He's one of a growing number of artists with that preoccupation
    Ian Herbert: Peter Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

    Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

    The England coach leaves players to find solutions - which makes you wonder where he adds value, says Ian Herbert
    War with Isis: Fears that the looming battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

    The battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

    Aid agencies prepare for vast exodus following planned Iraqi offensive against the Isis-held city, reports Patrick Cockburn