Roasted grouse with gravy and hedgerow jelly
Grouse tend to be a tad expensive at the beginning of the season so, if you like, half a bird would certainly suffice, especially if you were to serve it as part of this four-course supper, as I've suggested.
If you enjoy foraging from the hedgerows, you may well have an excess of berries. The heatwave has certainly accelerated our fruit and berry season, and they can be made into a lovely jelly. What's more, any that you don't eat straight away can be stored in a Kilner jar and will keep in the fridge or a larder. This kind of jelly is great to hang on to as it can be easily used as lovely accompaniment for game birds, pâté or cheese – especially blue cheese.
4 oven-ready young grouse
A few sprigs of sage
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
A good knob of butter, softened
A splash of red wine
A cupful of strong chicken or game stock
A little cornflour (optional)
For the jelly
450g blackcurrants or blackberries or a mixture (frozen can be used)
450g caster sugar
To make the jelly, place the blackberries or blackcurrants and sugar together in a large, heavy-bottomed saucepan, and gently bring to the boil, stirring continuously. With a ladle, remove any scum that rises to the surface and discard. Allow to simmer for 1 hour, then pass through a fine-meshed sieve. Pour into a mould or Kilner jar and leave to set in a cool place.
Preheat the oven to 220C/gas mark 7. Season the grouse inside and out and rub the breasts with butter. Put a sprig of sage into the cavity of each bird and cook for 15-20 minutes for medium rare, basting every so often. Remove the grouse from the roasting pan and set aside in a warm place.
For the gravy, place the roasting pan over a moderate heat, add the wine and stock and deglaze the pan by stirring up the stuck-on sediment with a wooden spoon. Cook rapidly for a minute or so. For a thicker gravy, add some cornflour mixed with a little water and simmer for another minute.
Serve the grouse on or off the bone, with jelly and the gravy separately. The jelly can be spooned out on to the plate or you can turn the jelly out of the jar and slice it.
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