Mark Hix recipes: From broths to baked potatoes, our chef gets creative with grouse

It isn’t the biggest bird on the moor, but what it lacks in size grouse makes up for in flavour. Test drive these recipes for breast with corn drop scones, grouse and spelt salad, a gamey broth and a very special baked potato

Not only is the grouse the first feathered game bird of the season, it is also one of the tastiest. A whole grouse on a plate isn't to everyone's taste and as a nation, of course, our bird of choice is the blamelessly bland chicken. But the delicate richness of grouse is a taste that is well worth acquiring and – with a little creativity and imagination, it's easy enough to find ways to prepare it that will tempt even the most timid palates.

While the bird itself is a bit of a luxury in terms of cost, it goes a lot further than you might think. Once the meat has been eaten, the carcass and legs can be cooked up into a good gamey gravy, or turned into a full-flavoured broth that makes a superb base for soups.

Breast of grouse with corn drop scones and girolles

Serves 4

A brunchy grouse dish for game-lovers or someone weaning themselves on to the bird. Again, you can make this with any game bird – even quail or pigeon.

2 oven-ready grouse
A couple of knobs of butter
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
A few sprigs of thyme
A few sage leaves
120-150g girolles or other wild mushrooms
1tbsp chopped parsley
Grouse gravy to serve (see below)

For the drop scones

110g self-raising flour
1 egg, beaten
120-130ml milk
120g cooked sweetcorn kernels, roughly chopped
A little vegetable or corn oil

First make the drop scone mixture. Put the flour into a bowl, stir in the egg, sweetcorn and enough of the milk to form a smooth batter and season.

Season the grouse inside and out: put the sage and thyme inside the birds and rub the breasts with butter. Place on a baking tray and roast for about 15 minutes, keeping them nice and pink.

To cook the drop scones, heat a griddle pan or a trusty frying pan and rub it with a little vegetable oil. Drop tablespoonfuls of the mixture into the pan and let them cook for 3 minutes until bubbles rise, turn them over and cook for another 2-3 minutes. Drain on kitchen paper while you are cooking the rest and keep warm.

Meanwhile, heat a little oil and butter in a frying pan and cook the girolles on a medium heat for a few minutes until they are tender then stir in the parsley.

Meanwhile, remove the breasts and legs from the grouse, place the drop scones on to warmed serving plates, slice the grouse breast a few times and arrange on top. You can remove the leg meat and scatter over with the girolles then spoon over a little grouse gravy.

Grouse or game gravy

I hate throwing game carcasses away. I tend to make a nice, rich game gravy for the freezer from it. It saves you running around at the last minute trying to cobble together something decent.

The cooked carcasses from two, or more, grouse or game birds, chopped
2-3 large shallots, peeled and chopped
A little vegetable or corn oil for frying
½tbsp plain flour
A good knob of butter
100ml red wine
600ml strong brown beef stock (a good-quality cube will do)

Heat the oil in a heavy-based saucepan and fry the carcasses and shallots on a fairly high heat for a few minutes. Turn the heat down, add the butter and stir in the flour, then gradually add the red wine and stock; simmer gently for about 30 minutes, a simmer plate is great for this, if you have one.

The sauce should be a good thickness by now, if not thicken with a little cornflour diluted in cold water – or you can continue simmering until it thickens. Now strain through a fine-meshed sieve.

Grouse, spelt and herb salad

Serves 4

Spelt is a great grain for adding a bit of flavour to a gamey salad like this. I often use it in place of rice in a risotto, as it holds up really well and is quite healthy with it.

2 oven-ready grouse
A few sprigs of thyme
A few sage leaves
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
A couple knobs of butter
A handful of small tasty salad leaves and herbs, washed and dried
30-40g spelt, soaked in cold water for a few hours
2tbsp rapeseed oil
1tbsp chopped parsley
1tbsp chopped chives
1tbsp chopped chervil

For the dressing

1tbsp cider or white wine vinegar
1tsp Tewkesbury or Dijon mustard
2tbsp rapeseed or olive oil
2tbsp vegetable or corn oil

Cook the spelt in simmering salted water for about 15-20 minutes or until tender, then drain and leave to cool. Mix the herbs with the spelt and rapeseed oil and season to taste.

Grouse, spelt and herb salad Grouse, spelt and herb salad (Jason Lowe)
Meanwhile, cook the grouse as above, leave to cool a little before removing the legs and breasts. Whisk the ingredients together for the dressing and season.

To serve, remove all of the meat from the legs and slice the breasts into 5-6 pieces, arrange the leaves, spelt and slices of grouse on to serving plates and spoon over the dressing.

Baked potato with grouse

Serves 4

This is based on a dish I created years ago with a whole snipe. You could do this with any game bird, to be honest – you just need to make sure whatever you use has the livers still in there, so they can be chopped up and mixed with potato, which adds a superb richness to the proceedings.

4 medium-sized baking potatoes
2 oven-ready grouse, along with their livers
60-80g butter
4 sage leaves
A few sprigs of thyme
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
A little game gravy to serve (see above)

Preheat the oven to 230°C/gas 8 or the hottest it will go. Wrap the potatoes in foil and bake in the oven for about 30-40 minutes then remove the foil and cook for a further 15 minutes or until they are soft. Remove from the oven and leave to cool a little. Roast the grouse as above.

Meanwhile cut about a third off the tops of the potatoes and scoop out the flesh into a bowl. Mix with the remaining butter and season. If the grouse have livers then sauté them, then mix in to the potato (chicken livers can be substituted if necessary).

Baked potato with grouse Baked potato with grouse (Jason Lowe)
Remove the legs from the grouse. Now remove the meat and mix with the potato. Refill the potato skins with the mixture and return to the oven for 10 minutes.

Remove the breasts from the grouse and cut into about 5 slices and arrange on the potato and pour a little game gravy over the top.

Grouse and summer squash broth

A good broth made from left-over grouse carcasses and legs makes an ideal dinner-party soup. Any game carcasses can be used for the stock.

For the game stock

2 or 3 grouse carcasses and legs, chopped
1 onion, peeled and roughly chopped
1 medium carrot, peeled and roughly chopped
2 juniper berries
A few sprigs of thyme
1 bay leaf
1.5ltr chicken stock (a good-quality cube will do)
Vegetable oil for frying

To serve

1 small, ripe squash, peeled, seeds removed and cut into ½cm dice
1 small leek, cut into ½cm dice and washed
1tbsp chopped parsley
1tbsp sherry
Any meat reserved from the carcass or legs

To make the broth, fry the carcasses and vegetables in vegetable oil over a high heat for a few minutes until lightly coloured. Add the juniper berries, thyme, bay leaf and chicken stock, bring to the boil and simmer very gently for 1 hour, skimming the surface occasionally.

Grouse and summer squash broth Grouse and summer squash broth (Jason Lowe)
Strain the stock through a fine-meshed sieve and put to one side. Any meat left on the carcass and legs can be saved to garnish the soup.

To serve, simmer the squash and leeks in the broth for about 5-6 minutes or until tender. Then add any left-over grouse meat and the parsley and sherry, simmer for another minute or so, re-season if necessary and serve.

Life and Style
ebookNow available in paperback
ebooks
ebookPart of The Independent’s new eBook series The Great Composers
Life and Style
love + sex
Arts and Entertainment
Victoria Wood, Kayvan Novak, Alexa Chung, Chris Moyles
tvReview: No soggy bottoms, but plenty of other baking disasters on The Great Comic Relief Bake Off
Sport
Ashley Young celebrates the winner for Manchester United against Newcastle
footballNewcastle 0 Man United 1: Last minute strike seals precious victory
Life and Style
Tikka Masala has been overtaken by Jalfrezi as the nation's most popular curry
food + drink
Arts and Entertainment
Seth Rogan is one of America’s most famous pot smokers
filmAmy Pascal resigned after her personal emails were leaked following a cyber-attack sparked by the actor's film The Interview
News
Benjamin Netanyahu and his cartoon bomb – the Israeli PM shows his ‘evidence’
people
Arts and Entertainment
80s trailblazer: comedian Tracey Ullman
tv
News
i100
Life and Style
A statue of the Flemish geographer Gerard Kremer, Geradus Mercator (1512 - 1594) which was unveiled at the Geographical Congree at Anvers. He was the first person to use the word atlas to describe a book of maps.
techThe 16th century cartographer created the atlas
Arts and Entertainment
Stephen Tompkinson is back as DCI Banks
tvReview: Episode one of the new series played it safe, but at least this drama has a winning formula
News
i100
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

    War with Isis: Iraq's government fights to win back Tikrit from militants - but then what?

    Baghdad fights to win back Tikrit from Isis – but then what?

    Patrick Cockburn reports from Kirkuk on a conflict which sectarianism has made intractable
    Living with Alzheimer's: What is it really like to be diagnosed with early-onset dementia?

    What is it like to live with Alzheimer's?

    Depicting early-onset Alzheimer's, the film 'Still Alice' had a profound effect on Joy Watson, who lives with the illness. She tells Kate Hilpern how she's coped with the diagnosis
    The Internet of Things: Meet the British salesman who gave real-world items a virtual life

    Setting in motion the Internet of Things

    British salesman Kevin Ashton gave real-world items a virtual life
    Election 2015: Latest polling reveals Tories and Labour on course to win the same number of seats - with the SNP holding the balance of power

    Election 2015: A dead heat between Mr Bean and Dick Dastardly!

    Lord Ashcroft reveals latest polling – and which character voters associate with each leader
    Audiences queue up for 'true stories told live' as cult competition The Moth goes global

    Cult competition The Moth goes global

    The non-profit 'slam storytelling' competition was founded in 1997 by the novelist George Dawes Green and has seen Malcolm Gladwell, Salman Rushdie and Molly Ringwald all take their turn at the mic
    Pakistani women come out fighting: A hard-hitting play focuses on female Muslim boxers

    Pakistani women come out fighting

    Hard-hitting new play 'No Guts, No Heart, No Glory' focuses on female Muslim boxers
    Leonora Carrington transcended her stolid background to become an avant garde star

    Surreal deal: Leonora Carrington

    The artist transcended her stolid background to become an avant garde star
    LGBT History Month: Pupils discuss topics from Sappho to same-sex marriage

    Education: LGBT History Month

    Pupils have been discussing topics from Sappho to same-sex marriage
    11 best gel eyeliners

    Go bold this season: 11 best gel eyeliners

    Use an ink pot eyeliner to go bold on the eyes with this season's feline flicked winged liner
    Cricket World Cup 2015: Tournament runs riot to make the event more hit than miss...

    Cricket World Cup runs riot to make the event more hit than miss...

    The tournament has reached its halfway mark and scores of 300 and amazing catches abound. One thing never changes, though – everyone loves beating England
    Katarina Johnson-Thompson: Heptathlete ready to jump at first major title

    Katarina Johnson-Thompson: Ready to jump at first major title

    After her 2014 was ruined by injury, 21-year-old Briton is leading pentathlete going into this week’s European Indoors. Now she intends to turn form into gold
    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