Something I look forward to every year is roast grouse. When I worked in London hotel kitchens, such as the Dorchester and Grosvenor House, we were trained to cook and serve it in the traditional way: a single grouse presented on a silver platter with a domed bell, next to a heart-shaped piece of fried bread. spread with cooked liver, a little bread sauce, fried breadcrumbs, fruit jelly and game chips. It was quite a thing to see – and to know how to prepare everything.
These days I stick with a really good sauce, bread sauce and something crunchy. Our game chips used to be apple wafers, which required slicing potatoes on the waffle blade of a mandolin. But I now serve parsnip chips, which are both tastier and easier. They also make a great snack with drinks. I usually leave the skin on the parsnips as it gives them a bit more character.
Preparation time: 30 minutes
Cooking time: 1 hour
For the bread sauce
- 1 small onion, peeled and cut in half
- 50g butter
- a few cloves (to taste)
- 1 bay leaf
- 500 ml of milk
- a pinch of ground nutmeg
- 100 g fresh white breadcrumbs
For the parsnip chips
- 3 large clean parsnips
- vegetable or corn oil, for frying
For the grouse and the sauce
- 4 young grouses ready in the oven
- a good knob of softened butter
- 4 sprigs of sage
- a little red wine
- about 150 ml of strong game or beef stock, homemade or purchased of good quality
- a little cornstarch mixed with a little water (optional)
- To make the bread sauce, finely chop half the onion and gently fry in half the butter in a pan until soft. Study the other
half with the cloves, pushing them through the bay leaf to anchor it. Place the milk, nutmeg and onion in the saucepan with the cooked onion and bring to the boil. Season and simmer very gently for 10 to 15 minutes, then remove the pan from the heat and let the sauce steep for about 30 minutes.
- Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 220°C/200°C fan/gas mark 7.
- For the chips, garnish and tail the parsnips, leaving the skin on unless it is very brown. Using a sharp mandolin or vegetable peeler, cut them into slices as thinly as possible lengthwise, then dry the strips with a clean cloth. Put aside.
- Season the tetras inside and out and rub the breasts with butter. Place in a roasting pan, place a sprig of sage in the cavity of each bird and roast for 15 to 20 minutes for medium-rare, basting occasionally.
- Meanwhile, heat the oil for the chips to 180°C in a deep fryer or heavy-based saucepan (no more than a third full). Fry the parsnip slices a few at a time, stirring to prevent them from sticking together. Take out those that are ready (after about 2-3 minutes) with a slotted spoon and drain them on absorbent paper. Parsnips may appear soft while still in the fat, but once drained, they will dry out and become crispy. Let them dry in a warm, but not hot, place.
- To continue the bread sauce, discard the sliced onion from the pan. Add the breadcrumbs and return the sauce to a low heat. Simmer gently for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Pour a third of the bread sauce from the pan into a blender and blend, then return it to the pan with the remaining 25g butter. Stir until sauce is combined; check and adjust the seasoning if necessary.
- Remove the tetras from the roasting pan and set aside in a warm place.
- To make the sauce, place the mold on the hob over moderate heat, add the wine and stock, then deglaze the pan by stirring any stuck sediment with a wooden spoon. Leave to simmer for a few minutes. For a thicker sauce, add a little cornstarch mixed with a little water and whisk while heating. Strain into a clean saucepan or pitcher.
- Serve the grouse with the sauce, bread sauce and parsnip chips. If you have grouse or game pâté, it will also be delicious on toast with this dish.