Food critic Tom Parker Bowles was right when he wrote that ‘as a nation, we have a scandalous disregard for game, far preferring the bland safety of chicken to anything with even an inkling of flavour’. Grouse, known as the king of the gamebirds, is at the epicentre of this scandal. Grouse is both delicious and flexible in how it can be cooked. The good news is as chefs and home cooks continue to trial new dishes – from traditional to experimental – grouse is once more cementing its place at the head of the table.

We believe it is a sin not to roast your first young August grouse straight from the moor. A roast grouse, accompanied with bread sauce, game chips and a rich gravy in the early part of the season has been known to make the most hardened of game shots weak at the knees. Cooked at a high temperature for a short time and allowed to rest the grouse breast is both sweet and tender and the legs add a further level of taste and succulence. Once the first roast grouse is out the way it is time to enjoy a fresh game salad and maybe something more exotic such as a grouse kebab.

It is the cooking of the more mature birds, and those later in the season, that require a more delicate and dedicated approach to reap the same rewards. They benefit from slow cooking, such as a pot roast in a mix of stock and red wine, or a warming curry. Success can also be found in the form of soups and pates. The slow and low cooking process allows for the taste to develop and the meat to become tenderised, making it a softer, more-subtle dish.

Only a fool will throw the grouse carcass out once finished with – for the leftovers make a formidable game stock!

Aging your Grouse:

Most grouse are sold in butchers, plucked and gutted, but with their feet and head still attached allowing them to be aged by the customer before buying, allowing you to choose your cooking method accordingly.

  • Young grouse have smooth toenails verging on being transparent at the tips, whilst the more mature birds will have a ridge along the centre of the nail and will be rougher to touch
  • A younger birds’ beak will be practically bendy when pressure is applied in comparison to the stiffer beak of an older bird
  • The primary feathers of an older bird will be well worn and rounded, the young bird’s will be pointed

If you are under any dealt ask your butcher.

Read more on cooking grouse from:

Mark Hix

Nick Nairn

Country Life