Peter Weeden, head chef of the Newman Street Tavern, says this is undoubtedly the best way to cook young grouse
This is the unfailingly best way to cook a young grouse. My opinion on this has changed little in the last fifteen years, except the omission of streaky bacon to cover the breast. This decision was made after a dinner with our grouse supplier, Ben Weatherall and Fergus Henderson, five years ago, when Fergus insisted the grouse didn't need the bacon; he is of course right.
Game chips are best served with this. We make them fresh but I have seen people successfully cheating with a bag of crisps warmed for a moment in the oven.
Grouse for four to six
6 shallots diced
1 bunch watercress
1 cottage loaf
Splash of cognac
1 1/2 pints full fat milk
250ml of well reduced veal or chicken gravy
a glass of port
faggot of herbs (rosemary, bay and thyme)
2 bay leaves
1 x clove
Take one young grouse per person.
Remove the heart, liver & necks, baste the bird inside and out with salted butter and insert a faggot of herbs into each. I wrap the feet in foil to prevent them scorching. Tie the feet together to keep tight whilst cooking.
Butter nice slices of cottage loaf and set aside.
Bring to a simmer 1 1/2 pints of full milk with a diced shallot, 2 bay leaves & a clove, don't be tempted to add more clove as it will anaesthetise your tongue.
Remove the crust from 1/2 a loaf of white bread, dice and add to the milk, cover & leave on a very low heat or the plate warmer of the aga.
Blitz the crusts, tip into a baking tray, add 100g of butter and toast in a low oven.
Fry 1 diced shallot in a tbsp of butter, add the hearts and liver, deglaze with a splash of cognac, mash with a fork & set aside.
Reduce the port with 2 diced shallots until jammy, add the chicken gravy and necks from the grouse; bring to the boil and set aside.
Colour the grouse in a little clarified butter 2 minutes each side (i.e. left hand side/ right hand side / bottom), then place each bird on a slice of buttered bread & roast in a hot oven at 225 degrees for 6-10 minutes, depending on how well done you want your bird.
Remove from the oven, rest for ten minutes, remove the string and place the birds on a plate with the watercress. On each of the now toasted but juice-soaked slices of bread, spread a little of the liver and heart, warm in the oven, cut into halves & place around the plate of grouse.
Bring the bread sauce back to a simmer, add a knob of butter and season to taste.
Serve the grouse with the gravy, bread sauce, toasted breadcrumbs, liver toast, watercress and some game chips and add your preferred vegetables. I like roasted crown prince squash, greens & braised red cabbage.