Grouse and pearl barley broth

Serves 4
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Indy Lifestyle Online

At this time of year, I hate to see the carcasses of game birds being scraped off the plates into the bin; you'd be surprised how much meat you can retrieve from a supposedly finished carcass, especially if your guests haven't got their hands dirty and picked the birds.

The carcasses from 4 grouse, chopped into 4 or 5 pieces
1 small onion, peeled, halved and roughly chopped
1 medium carrot, peeled and roughly chopped
2 cloves of garlic, peeled and crushed
A couple of sprigs of thyme
4 juniper berries
1 tbsp vegetable oil
A good knob of butter
1tbsp flour
1tsp tomato purée
2 litres chicken stock
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
50g pearl barley, soaked for a couple hours in cold water
1 small leek, trimmed, cut into rough 1cm squares and washed
60-80g seasonal wild mushrooms, cleaned and sliced or halved

Heat the vegetable oil in a large, heavy-based saucepan and fry the grouse carcasses, onion, carrot and garlic on a high heat for 3-4 minutes, stirring every so often until lightly coloured. Add the thyme, juniper, butter and flour and stir well for a minute or so; then add the tomato purée. Slowly stir in the chicken stock, bring to the boil, season and simmer gently for an hour.

Strain the soup through a fine-meshed sieve into a clean saucepan, reserving the bits of carcass. Add the pearl barley and leeks and simmer for about 20 minutes or until the barley is tender. Remove as many bits of meat from the grouse carcass as possible and add to the soup with the mushrooms. Simmer for a few minutes, re-season if necessary and serve.

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