Man food with Mark Hix - Grouse

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I love all of the accompaniments that traditionally go with grouse. They make the whole experience a real indulgence. For a proper feast you need to arm yourself with plenty more gear than the bird itself. From croutes with liver and game chips to browned breadcrumbs and bread sauce.

Roast Grouse with Bread Sauce and Rowan Jelly
Serves 4

Ingredients:

For the Grouse
4 oven-ready young grouse
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
A good knob of butter, softened
Splash of red wine
250ml of game or chicken stock
A little cornflour
For the Bread Sauce
1 small onion, peeled and halved
50g butter
3 cloves
1 bay leaf
500ml milk
Pinch of freshly grated nutmeg
100g fresh white breadcrumbs

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Method:
Start making 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.

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Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 220º/gas 7. Season the grouse inside and out and rub the breasts with butter. Roast for 15-20 minutes, for medium rare, basting every so often.

While the grouse are cooking, finish the sauce: 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 one-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 the seasoning and adjust if necessary.

Remove the grouse from the roasting pan and set aside in a warm place. Place the roasting pan over a moderate heat, add the wine and stock or water and deglaze the pan by stirring up the stuck-on sediment with a wooden spoon. Cook rapidly for a minute or so. For a thicker gravy, add some cornflour mixed with a little water and simmer for another minute. Serve the grouse on or off the bone, with the gravy, bread sauce and rowan jelly.

Rowan jelly

Ingredients:
750g sweet eating apples, peeled, cored and sliced
1kg ripe rowan berries
Preserving or jam sugar

Method:

Cover the apples with water, bring to the boil and cook at a steady boil for 20 minutes. Add the rowan berries and simmer for around 30-40 minutes.

Strain through a clean tea towel, double muslin, or a jelly bag, then add 450g of preserving sugar to each 500ml of juice. Return to a clean pan and bring to the boil, stirring until the sugar dissolves. Boil for 10-15 minutes, then spoon a little on to a plate and place in the fridge or freezer to test if it sets; if not, return to the heat and test again after 4-5 minutes. Pour into sterilized kilner or jam jars, seal the lids and leave to cool. Store in a cool place or in the fridge for up to six months.

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