Gourmet Food Source
For anyone who shoots game August the twelfth is known affectionately as ‘the Glorious Twelfth’ the day the grouse shooting season begins.
Considered by many as the finest of all game birds they command very high prices from both butcher and restaurant alike.
There are a number of species of grouse; the red or Scottish grouse is the smallest with a distinctive flavour from the young heather shoots, which it eats on the Scottish, Irish and Yorkshire Moors. The black grouse can be found in Southern England whilst a bigger grouse known as a capercaillie is native to the mountain regions of Northern Europe.
Grouse are best eaten during the first half of the season whilst they are still young, personally those shot in August have not developed the flavour that I expect from them and the high price dictates that I have to wait until late September and early October before they are worth buying. An undressed bird will weigh around 1 ½ lb or 700g and is enough for one person. The meat is dark red and similar with a rich and pronounced game flavour. Once shot they can be eaten the same day but I wouldn’t recommend it, four to five days is about right. The flavour needs to develop but not to the point of overly gamy for fear of losing the delicate flavour notes of herbs and heather.
Those birds fortunate enough to miss the gun shots will age into a bird quite unfit for roasting, far better to slow cook an old grouse with a slug of good quality red to aid the process. The depth of flavour in an older grouse remains but the meat becomes drier and tougher.
Content and picture © Miles Collins