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In Season in Autumn: Grouse

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Jump to:-    Types of Grouse  |   Buying & Storing  Grouse  |   Preparing and cooking  Grouse  |   Editor's Choice Top 3  Autumn Grouse Recipes



What are Grouse?


A game bird found in temperate regions of Europe and North America, grouse are wild game birds related to the pheasant. They are are stocky birds ranging from 40cm-75cm/16-30 inches long and spend most of their time on the ground where their camouflage colouring protects them from prey. 


Although you can buy frozen Grouse throughout the year, in the UK fresh wild grouse is only available from mid August (the Glorious 12th) through to December as these birds cannot be artificially reared due to their dependence on moorland heather for survival. A truly seasonal game bird.



Types of Grouse


The Red Grouse is the most common species found in Europe (pictured above)

The Ruffed Grouse is found in deciduous forests in Canada and northern United States
The Spruce Grouse is found in coniferous forests in Canada and northern United States. 
The Sage Grouse is found on dry plains in southern Canada and western United States
The Sharp-Tailed Grouse is found in grasslands in western United States and Canada.


Buying and storing fresh Grouse


As with many other game birds, the younger the grouse the more tender it is likely to be. However, as it is only possible to tell the age of a grouse when it is ‘on the feather,’  when buying oven-ready birds, be sure to buy from a reputable supplier. Look for specimens with not too much shot or bruising as excessive bruising can distort the flavour. If you are lucky enough to be given a freshly shot grouse (or ev en better a brace) just be grateful !

Oven ready birds should be kept in the refrigerator and will last for a few days. Freshly shot grouse is best hung before plucking and drawing (see below)


Preparing  and Cooking fresh Grouse


Traditionally wild grouse are hung whole before plucking and drawing. They should be suspended by the neck in a cool, airy place such as a garage. This is primarily done to tenderise the meat but also has the added effect of making the flavour stronger. If you don't want a very gamey flavour, you can omit the hanging process altogether otherwise hang the bird for between 3 - 5 days after which time the feathers should be removed (plucked) and the innards removed (drawn). Wash well under cold running water before cooking.


The flesh of grouse is dark in colour and very rich in flavour, making it a somewhat acquired taste, which is often affected by their diet e.g. 95% of the red grouse's diet consists of heather.  As mentioned above, the younger the bird, the more tender it will be so young grouse are best simply roasted and served with traditional accompaniments such as rowan jelly and game chips. Older Grouse are best slowly cooked such as braised or casseroled.

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Editor's Choice:  Top 3 Autumn Season Grouse Recipes



Tipsy Grouse Casserole

This Scottish recipe is ideal for older birds and uses Rowan Jelly and wild mushrooms to flavour and interest. If you can't get Rowan Jelly, redcurrant jelly can be substituted.




Grouse With Raisins

A roast grouse dish suitable for younger birds. The creamy sauce made with crème fraîche is flavoured with raisins and sherry.




Grouse with Pear Sauce

This recipe uses the breast of the grouse and marries it with tinned pears and a sauce made with the syrup from the pears and white wine.



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