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
ebookA delicious collection of 50 meaty main courses
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

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

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Food & Drink

    Recruitment Genius: Assistant Manager - Visitor Fundraising

    £23000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The Visitor Fundraising Team is responsi...

    Recruitment Genius: Developer

    £30000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an opportunity to join ...

    Recruitment Genius: Estates Contracts & Leases Manager

    £30000 - £34000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The Estates Team of this group ...

    Guru Careers: Brand Manager / Marketing Campaign Manager

    COMPETITIVE: Guru Careers: A Brand Manager / Marketing Campaign Manager is req...

    Day In a Page

    The Silk Roads that trace civilisation: Long before the West rose to power, Asian pathways were connecting peoples and places

    The Silk Roads that trace civilisation

    Long before the West rose to power, Asian pathways were connecting peoples and places
    House of Lords: Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal are ennobled

    The honours that shame Britain

    Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal are ennobled
    When it comes to street harassment, we need to talk about race

    'When it comes to street harassment, we need to talk about race'

    Why are black men living the stereotypes and why are we letting them get away with it?
    International Tap Festival: Forget Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - this dancing is improvised, spontaneous and rhythmic

    International Tap Festival comes to the UK

    Forget Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - this dancing is improvised, spontaneous and rhythmic
    War with Isis: Is Turkey's buffer zone in Syria a matter of self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

    Turkey's buffer zone in Syria: self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

    Ankara accused of exacerbating racial division by allowing Turkmen minority to cross the border
    Doris Lessing: Acclaimed novelist was kept under MI5 observation for 18 years, newly released papers show

    'A subversive brothel keeper and Communist'

    Acclaimed novelist Doris Lessing was kept under MI5 observation for 18 years, newly released papers show
    Big Blue Live: BBC's Springwatch offshoot swaps back gardens for California's Monterey Bay

    BBC heads to the Californian coast

    The Big Blue Live crew is preparing for the first of three episodes on Sunday night, filming from boats, planes and an aquarium studio
    Austin Bidwell: The Victorian fraudster who shook the Bank of England with the most daring forgery the world had known

    Victorian fraudster who shook the Bank of England

    Conman Austin Bidwell. was a heartless cad who carried out the most daring forgery the world had known
    Car hacking scandal: Security designed to stop thieves hot-wiring almost every modern motor has been cracked

    Car hacking scandal

    Security designed to stop thieves hot-wiring almost every modern motor has been cracked
    10 best placemats

    Take your seat: 10 best placemats

    Protect your table and dine in style with a bold new accessory
    Ashes 2015: Alastair Cook not the only one to be caught in The Oval mindwarp

    Cook not the only one to be caught in The Oval mindwarp

    Aussie skipper Michael Clarke was lured into believing that what we witnessed at Edgbaston and Trent Bridge would continue in London, says Kevin Garside
    Can Rafael Benitez get the best out of Gareth Bale at Real Madrid?

    Can Benitez get the best out of Bale?

    Back at the club he watched as a boy, the pressure is on Benitez to find a winning blend from Real's multiple talents. As La Liga begins, Pete Jenson asks if it will be enough to stop Barcelona
    Athletics World Championships 2015: Beijing witnesses new stage in the Jessica Ennis-Hill and Katarina Johnson-Thompson heptathlon rivalry

    Beijing witnesses new stage in the Jess and Kat rivalry

    The last time the two British heptathletes competed, Ennis-Hill was on the way to Olympic gold and Johnson-Thompson was just a promising teenager. But a lot has happened in the following three years
    Jeremy Corbyn: Joining a shrewd operator desperate for power as he visits the North East

    Jeremy Corbyn interview: A shrewd operator desperate for power

    His radical anti-austerity agenda has caught the imagination of the left and politically disaffected and set a staid Labour leadership election alight
    Isis executes Palmyra antiquities chief: Defender of ancient city's past was killed for protecting its future

    Isis executes Palmyra antiquities chief

    Robert Fisk on the defender of the ancient city's past who was killed for protecting its future