About a month ago a very lovely friend presented me with a couple of grouse from Allen’s of Mayfair. I was excited, having never eaten the stuff before. I tend to associate grouse with the very posh and faintly eccentric. My pal is both, as well as huge hearted and a brilliant laugh. Although they came ready prepped, all trussed up with streaky slices, I still had to rip out the gizzard, heart and liver. There were no neat little plastic giblet bags in these cavities. There was a lot of blood. Relishing in my own squeamishness, I tore off the claws and talons and hid them in the bin, like a filthy secret.
The birds came with the following Henry Harris recipe. The gravy and clove-scented bread sauce were the best I have ever tasted.
RACINE ROAST GROUSE AND GRAVY
4 young grouse, drawn but giblets reserved
4 tbs butter
1 pinch of plain flour
75 ml Madeira
1 tsp redcurrant jelly
300 ml game stock
4 small slices Pain Poilane
100gm foie gras, raw or from a terrine
4 little bundles of watercress
Preheat the oven to 180C
Take the giblets and chop them into small dice.
Melt 1 tbs of the butter in a saucepan, when foaming add the giblets and flour, season and fry briskly until nicely caramelised.
Add the Madeira and bring to the boil then reduce by half.
Then add the stock, bring to a gentle simmer and cook for 40 minutes.
Strain and press through a sieve into a clean pan. Bring back to the gentlest boil and as the sauce throws up a crust, skim it off.
Reduce to a good flavour,stir in the jelly and adjust the seasoning if required.
To cook the grouse, season the cavities with salt and pepper and then slather the birds with butter and place them in a good sized roasting pan.
Season the tops with salt and pepper. Roast in the oven for 15-20 mins, basting every 5 mins.
If the birds are quite small then 15 minutes will give you a nice rare finish.
Once you take them from the oven lift the birds onto a warm dish and leave to rest somewhere nice and warm for 15 mins.
Place the roasting pan back onto the hob and fry the 4 slices of bread to a light golden crispness.
Remove them from the pan and rest on absorbent paper. Then spread the foie gras equally onto each toast.
Place one of these on each plate and rest a grouse on each one. Meanwhile bring the gravy back to the boil and should you wish for a
silkier sauce, then add a tablespoon of butter.
Check the seasoning and pour the gravy over each grouse and garnish each bird with a bundle of watercress.
450 ml milk
1 bay leaf
1/2 sprig thyme
4 cloves (bulb crushed)
1/2 small onion sliced
pinch black peppercorns
4 thick slices of white bread (crusts removed and roughly chopped)
Bring all to boil and leave to rest for 1 hour.
Bring the milk back to the boil and strain over the bread. Cover and leave for 1/2 hour.
Carefully use a whisk to mash up the bread. Do not over whisk as this will make the sauce gluey.
Stir in a few knobs of butter and season with salt and pepper as required.
4 medium Maris Piper potatoes
Peel the potatoes
Using a mandolin with the “crinkley” blade attached set to a thin setting.
Set to making your crisps, this requires a little attention and frequent adjustment to start with.
You are to slice your potato turning it to 45 degrees between each slice to give ridges that cross each other. The mandolin needs to be adjusted so that it slices thinly enough that you see little holes throughout the crisp.
(I don’t have a mandolin, so just used a vegetable peeler and ignored all of the above. They were still damned tasty).
Once they are all sliced, give them a brief wash in plenty of cold water and then drain them.
Pat them dry on a clean tea towel. Heat a good quantity of the oil, ideally in a deep fryer and then fry them in small batches until golden and crisp.
Once removed from the oil place them to rest in a bowl lined with absorbent kitchen paper and season with fine sea salt.
Keep warm and then serve alongside the grouse.