INGREDIENTS (Serves 4)
4 young grouse
Vegetable oil for deep frying
3 large clean parsnips
200ml meat stock
200ml chicken stock
100ml red wine
Salt and pepper
For the bread sauce (makes 20 portions) 1 large onion, peeled and halved
1 bay leaf
1 litre of milk
½ tsp ground nutmeg
200g fresh white breadcrumbs
Salt and pepper
METHOD To make the bread sauce, finely chop half the onion and cook it gently in half the butter until soft. Stud the other half with the cloves, pushing them through the bay leaf to anchor it. Put the milk, nutmeg and studded onion in the saucepan with the cooked onion and bring to the boil. Season and simmer for 10-15 minutes.
Remove the pan from the heat and leave the sauce to infuse for 30 minutes or so. Take out and discard the studded onion. Add the breadcrumbs and return the sauce to a low heat. Simmer gently for 10 minutes, giving it an occasional stir.
Pour a third of the bread sauce from the pan into a blender and process, then return to the pan and add the remaining 25g butter. Stir until the sauce has amalgamated; check and correct the seasoning.
To cook the grouse, pre-heat the oven to 245e_SDgrC. Heat some oil to 180e_SDgrC in a deep-fat fryer. Top and tail the parsnips, leaving the skin on, unless it's very brown, and, with a sharp mandolin (the Japanese ones are the best) slice them as thinly as possible lengthways, then dry them with a clean tea towel.
Fry the slices in the hot fat a few at a time, stirring to ensure they don't stick together. The parsnips will take a while to colour and may appear soft while they are still in the fat but once they have been drained they will dry out and crisp up. Leave them somewhere warm to dry.
Reduce the meat and chicken stocks together by two-thirds. Lightly season the grouse and rub the breasts with a little softened butter. Heat the pan and cook the grouse until the skin is golden brown all over, then roast in the oven for about 10 minutes. If you insert a sharp knife or carving fork between the legs and breast a little blood should run out. Pink is the ideal way to serve grouse or it will be a little dry.
Put the grouse on a plate to rest and to catch any juices that run out. Put the roasting tray in which the grouse were cooked over a low heat, add the red wine and stir the bottom to remove any cooking residue. Reduce the red wine completely and add the stock. Simmer for a few minutes, and then strain the gravy through a fine-meshed sieve into a small pan.
The grouse can be served whole or with the breasts and legs removed. Serve the bread sauce, parsnip chips and gravy separately. Buttered greens or later in season Brussels sprouts and chestnuts are an excellent accompaniment.
Gary Lee, head chef, the Ivy, London
A classic dish that requires a classic wine! Roast grouse is a very autumnal dish with plenty of earthy farmyard flavour. Saying that, it's quite a delicate meat that needs acidity to cope with the richness but not too heavy on tannins. For a dish like this I would recommend pushing the boat out a bit and going for a good mature St Emilion from a vintage like 2001 - perfect for drinking now, from a good vintage that was overshadowed by 2000 and relatively good value. It will have lost most of its youthful primary fruit and developed more tertiary leather and turned earth, prune and cranberry character, softening and tannin and becoming very silky. Great for traditional game.
Ronan Sayburn MS, director of wine and spirits, Hotel du Vin