Roast Grouse with Bread Sauce, Game Chips, Braised Cabbage and Gravy
Rare Recipe from Bryan Webb, Tyddyn Llan
Prior to moving to Wales, Bryan ran Hilaire in London, acclaimed by the food guides. Bryan has continued to gather awards at Tyddyn Llan, including ‘Restaurant of the Year’. His cooking is about subtle flavours and an uncompromising attitude to sourcing the finest ingredients.
Grouse during the first weeks after the Glorious Twelfth can be extremely expensive and is never cheap but by September it has at least become an affordable luxury. The price of two grouse and a good bottle of Burgundy is less than you would pay for an inexpensive and mediocre meal in a restaurant and grouse is not difficult to cook.
As long as the grouse is turned and basted a few times so that it cooks evenly and left pink but not rare, it is a tolerant bird whose flavour cannot be spoiled even by the clumsiest cook.
If there is any skill in preparing grouse it is choosing the right bird. I must admit that sometimes a few come to me that were a little on the tough side and were turned into a terrine. To test a bird hold it by its beak and if it does not break it will be tough, but really faith should be invested in the butcher or game dealer.
I was taught how to cook grouse by Colin Pressdee who knew better than muck around with grouse and kept it simple, just serving with some bread sauce, breadcrumbs fried in butter or some fried bread topped with the birds cooked liver, game chips and gravy.
This is not just my favourite way of cooking and eating this magnificent bird, it is my desert island dinner preferably preceded by half of native lobster and followed by a perfect crème Brulée.
INGREDIENTS - ROAST GROUSE
- 2 young grouse
- 50g unsalted butter
- Salt and pepper
- 2 slices of streaky bacon
- 2 sprigs of thyme
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 small chopped shallot
METHOD - ROAST GROUSE
- Remove the wing bone and the wish bone making sure that the skin covers all the flesh. Make a small cut into the bottom of the legs and holding the feet twist and pull and all the sinew will come out.
- Season the birds inside with salt and pepper and place a sprig of thyme and a bay leaf inside the cavity, smear the breasts with butter and lay a slice of streaky bacon cut in half on top.
- Preheat the oven to 220°C.
- Roast the grouse for about 15 minutes turning and basting three times, remove from the oven and leave to rest for 10 minutes on a warm plate, put the wine and brandy into the roast tray and scrape up all the juices, pour in the stock and boil to a thin gravy, strain and keep warm.
- Serve with game chips, bread sauce, a sprig of watercress and some redcurrant jelly (I would recommend the Welsh Lady brand, it is excellent).
INGREDIENTS - BREAD SAUCE
- 400ml milk
- 1 tablespoon chopped onion
- 2 cloves
- A few parsley stalks
- 2 sprigs of thyme
- 4 slices of white bread, crusts removed and made into breadcrumbs
- 30g butter
METHOD - BREAD SAUCE
- Put all the ingredients except the breadcrumbs and butter into a saucepan and bring to a simmer, take off the heat and leave to infuse for a while.
- Strain the milk into a clean pan, add the bread crumbs and stir with a whisk over a low heat until it starts to thicken, add the butter and season with salt and pepper, if it’s too thick add a little more milk.
INGREDIENTS - GAME CHIPS
- 2 Maris piper potatoes
- Vegetable oil for deep frying
METHOD - GAME CHIPS
- Slice the potatoes as thinly as possible on a mandolin as for crisps, and place in a container under running water for half an hour to remove the starch.
- Drain and dry well and deep fry in hot oil until golden brown, drain on kitchen paper and season with salt. (Or do what I have done many times at home - reheat Kettle Crisps on a tray in a warm oven - no one will know the difference!)
INGREDIENTS - BRAISED CABBAGE
- 1 small Savoy cabbage
- 3 shallots cut in half and slice thinly
- 4 slices of streaky bacon cut into thin strips
- 50g butter
METHOD - BRAISED CABBAGE
- Quarter the cabbage and remove the core, slice thinly, melt the butter, sweat the shallots until soft, add the bacon and cook for a few minutes.
- Add the cabbage and stir well, barely cover with water and simmer until the cabbage has a slight bite left to it, season with salt and pepper.
INGREDIENTS - GRAVY
- Half a glass of red wine (about 50ml)
- A slug of brandy
- 200ml strong chicken stock