Like grey partridge, grouse requires very little effort, and in my book it has such an intense flavour that a powerful accompaniment like ketchup works very well indeed. The ketchup recipe does make a lot, but it will keep in the fridge indefinitely.
- 250g soft, ripe pears (any variety will do, but they need to be very ripe), peeled, halved, cored and chopped
- 100ml cider vinegar
- 100ml water, plus another 50ml
- 1/2 teaspoon ground allsp
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
- 2x 10g good-quality vegetable stock cubes, crumbled
- 50ml olive oil
- 75g muscovado sugar
- 250g sweet potato, peeled and very finely chopped
- 1 tablespoon cornflour, mixed with a little cold water
- salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 4 young grouse
- 50g unsalted butter
- 2 tablespoons any oil
Put the pears in a saucepan with the vinegar, 100ml water, spices, stock cubes, olive oil and sugar and cook for about 15 minutes until they become a light pulp.
Cook the sweet potato in a saucepan of boiling water for 10 minutes until very soft and overcooked. Drain well.
Add the sweet potato to the cooked pears, just cover with water and cook for a further 15 minutes. Whizz in a blender or food processor to a fine sauce/purée.
Return to the pan.
Stir in the cornflour mixture and cook until thickened, seasoning well with salt and pepper. The end result should resemble thick double cream.
Preheat the oven to 220°C/Gas 7.
Heat the butter with the oil in an ovenproof frying pan until foaming and a nutty brown colour.
Season the grouse inside and out, then add to the pan, each bird one side down, and cook for 1 minute until browned.
Transfer the pan to the oven and roast for 5 minutes. Turn each bird onto the other side, spoon over the buttery juices and roast for a further # minutes. Finally, turn the bird’s breast up, again spoon over the buttery juices and roast for another 5 minutes.
Remove the pan from the oven, then place the bird’s breast side down on a warm plate, cover loosely with foil and leave to rest in a warm place for 15 minutes.
Transfer the birds to a chopping board and, using a sharp knife, slice through the skin where the leg is attached to the breast and then pull the leg back on itself so that the ball and socket joint pops open and carefully pull the leg away.
Carefully slice down one side of the breastbone, continuing to cut right along to the wing and then cut through the wing joint. Tease the flesh away from the crown and gently pull the breast meat away – the meat will be nice and pink. Repeat on the other side.
Cover the legs and breast meat with foil and keep warm while you repeat with the other three birds.
To serve, cross two legs on a warm plate and then lay the two breasts on top, with a small bowl of the ketchup on the side – simple and to the point.