The grouse season in the UK opened on the 12th August and right now you can find some of the best grouse in the market because the birds are still young enough to offer a deliciously tender meat. The breast of grouse is the most tender part; it is rich and is scented with the most delicate of gamey tangs, whilst the leg has a more pronounced kick. This is a bird suited to mellow fruitiness so the addition of blackberries to the dish creates a well-rounded taste.
4 grouse, including giblets
500g of duck fat
1 tbsp of olive oil
1 tbsp of butter
3 large potatoes
100g of seasoned flour
2 eggs, whisked
200g of breadcrumbs
100ml of olive oil
100g of butter
2 shallots, peeled and sliced
2 garlic cloves, peeled and sliced
2 flat mushrooms
200ml of port
4 sprigs of fresh thyme
1 punnet of blackberries
200ml of Chicken stock
300ml of veal jus
1 savoy cabbage
1 tbsp of butter
1. Remove the legs and wings from birds. Separate the thigh from the drum stick by cutting through joint. Remove the intestines, reserving the hearts and livers.
2. Cut out the spine, crop and wish-bone so that you are left with the crown i.e. the breasts on the bone.
3. Place the thighs in a pan with the duck fat and confit slowly over a very low heat for an hour or until the meat is tender. Remove the meat from the thigh, making sure there is no bone or lead shot and flake the meat.
4. To make the sauce, put the olive oil and butter into a pan. When it starts to foam add the drum sticks, wings and spine bone from the bird and slowly caramelise.
5. Add the sliced shallots and garlic, cook until soft then add the sliced mushrooms. Cook until the water in the mushrooms has evaporated and they start to caramelise.
6. Drain the fat from the pan, deglaze with the port and add the bones back to the pan with the thyme and fresh blackberries.
7. Boil until the bones become glazed then add the chicken stock and jus bring up to the boil and skim.
8. Cook slowly for 20 minutes then pass through a fine chinoise lined with four layers of muslin cloth into a clean pan. Bring up to the boil and reduce, skimming all of the time until you achieve a light syrupy consistency.
9. To make the potato galettes, bake the potatoes until soft. Scoop the centres out and put to one side.
10. Sauté the livers and hearts and then chop to a smooth paste along with the confit thigh meat.
11. Mix the potato into the paste meat a little at a time until you get the taste you require (it can be quite strong). Season with salt and pepper, then form into four round discs approximately 1 cm thick. Allow to set in the fridge.
12. Put the flour, egg and breadcrumbs on three separate plates. Coat the set potato discs first in the flour, then the egg and finally the breadcrumbs. Set aside.
13. Remove the dark green outer leaves from the cabbage and discard. Removing the tender green leaves and cut out the stalk. Slice the leaves very thinly then place into boiling salted water until tender and then straight into iced water. Set aside.
14. Heat the olive oil and butter in a hot pan,, season the grouse with salt and pepper and seal all over until golden brown. Transfer to the oven and cook at 180ºC/Gas mark 4 for 4-8 minutes depending on the size of the bird. Leave to rest in a warm place.
15. In the meantime, cook the potato galette in a deep fryer until golden brown and crispy.
16. To serve, reheat the cabbage in a little butter and season with a little salt and pepper.
17. Place the blackberries into the sauce at the last minute just to warm through then remove breasts from bird and keep warm.
18. For each plate, place some of the cabbage in the centre of the dish and place a galette on top. Arrange two grouse breasts on top of the galette, one on top of the other and arrange the six blackberries around cabbage.
19. Bring the sauce back up to the boil and check for consistency (you may want to whisk a little bit of butter into your sauce at this point just to smooth it out and make it shine ) then pour over and around the grouse and serve.
Thank you to William Drabble, Head Chef at the Seven Park Place at the St. James’s Hotel and Club in London, for the recipe.