Gastronomes up and down the country will have had this week marked on their calendar for some time. August the 12th, the Glorious 12th, sees the start of the Grouse season. From now until the end of the year, one of the finest game birds is on the menu. This is the type of thing you might order in a restaurant but I wanted to share my recipe with you as it’s so easy – I hope you give it a go. As an added bonus, Grouse loves pinot noir; one of the most enticing food/wine pairings you could dream of.
Grouse are not particularly big so you will probably need a bird each. Start by removing the wishbones – not as complicated as it sounds and is a big help later on when you are serving. Pat them dry with kitchen towel, lay some good quality, smoked streaky bacon over the breast-side of the birds and tie it in place with some twine. Season with salt and pepper but go easy with the salt – too much and you risk drying out the grouse and overpowering the flavour. Put a few sprigs of thyme in the cavities. Heat some oil in an oven-safe pan and put the birds skin-side down for a couple of minutes to get a bit of colour. Turn them over and put the pan into a hot oven for about 15 minutes. This will be about medium, take it out a couple of minutes earlier is you prefer medium rare. If you overcook them they will be quite dry and you will lose the delicate flavour. Remove them from the pan and rest them in some foil for 10 minutes. Deglaze the pan with some red wine (probably pinot noir!) and reduce. Add in some flour or gravy granules to thicken and finish with a nob of butter. Strain the sauce through a sieve. Serve the birds with your sauce, some crispy roasted new potatoes and some crunchy green beans. Lots of people like bread sauce and thin crisp-like potatoes with their Grouse, but I’m not personally a fan.
Enjoy this regal treat with the best bottle of pinot noir from your arsenal and ask yourself why it can’t be Grouse season all year round.

Will Evered