For the whinberry preserve
500g fresh whinberries
100ml Black Mountain liqueur
2tsp balsamic vinegar
1tsp green peppercorns, crushed
For the grouse
2 medium shallots, chopped
4 whole young grouse with their livers
1/2tsp Halen Mon sea salt
10 green peppercorns, crushed
3tsp fresh parsley and thyme, hopped
2 slices wholemeal bread, crumbed
100ml Penderyn whisky
4 rashers fat streaky bacon, unsmoked
100g fresh tomato pulp, sieved
100ml stock, game or chicken
Whinberries are small berries similar to small blueberries, and grow all over the mountains of Wales. The renowned Sugar Loaf Mountain near Llanwrtyd Wells is covered in low bushes of whinberries, and a bountiful harvest can be gathered when grouse come into season.
Place the whinberries in a stainless pan and add the liqueur. Simmer on a low heat for 5 minutes until the fruit is soft. Taste for sweetness, adding a little sugar if necessary. Add the balsamic and pepper, cook for a further minute then cool and refrigerate in a sealed jar until use.
Heat oven to 230°C.
Fry the shallots in half the butter until soft. Chop the livers and add to the shallots, cooking for a few seconds to colour. Add some of the sea salt and half the peppercorns, 2tsp herbs and breadcrumbs. Mix well off the heat to make a stuffing. Moisten with half the whisky.
Put this mixture into the cavities of each grouse, being careful not to overfill and leaving plenty of space for air to circulate. Lightly oil and cover each with a rasher of bacon cut in half and placed in a criss-cross over the breasts.
Put the birds, breasts up, into a roasting tray that takes the four birds snugly. Put into oven and roast for 15 minutes, season and baste halfway through, then check they are cooked by pressing the breasts with the flat of a spoon - the breast should be just firm.
Put on to a warmed serving platter and cover with a tent of foil to keep warm on the hob, or in a very low oven. Place roasting tray on a medium hob, add some of the whisky and the wine to deglaze all the caramelised bits. Add stock and tomato and cook to reduce to a silky consistency. Season with green peppercorns and sea salt, add herbs and remaining whisky, then the butter in small pieces to make the sauce glossy.
Serve the grouse whole or cut each in half, right through the bone, and place on warm plates topped with bacon, with the stuffing on the side. Spoon a little of the sauce around each grouse and put that remaining in a bowl. Serve with game chips and a fresh green vegetable, plus whinberry preserve.
Mary Ann Gilchrist, chef-patron, Carlton Riverside, Llanwrtyd Wells, Powys