Grouse, whether you buy it or it arrives at the back door, can either be a tough old bird which needs some tlc, or a tender new thing, which needs barely any fuss. It is, however, always a challenge because you always want to do justice to its magnificent flavour.

The favourite way to do grouse is of course to roast it, and we have included a few variations on how best to do this depending on your taste, and the time restrictions you are under. We have also included some more novel ways to cook the bird, all of which are quite straightforward, and quite delicious.

Wines which go best with grouse tend to be full bodied to match the strong flavour of the bird. A robust cabernet sauvignon or a good merlot go extremely well, in our experience.

ROASTING

Roast Grouse with Bread Sauce

Ingredients:

One grouse per person

2 rashers of streaky bacon per bird

25g butter per bird

Black pepper

Flour, plain

Stock

Red Wine

Directions:Cover each bird with streaky bacon and the butter inside the bird. Take a buttered roasting tin, and put the birds into the tin, then season with the pepper. Roast in the oven at 220°c for half an hour.

Bread Sauce: 1 ½ pints of creamy milk, 1 onion, skinned, with cloves stuck into it, 1 day old loaf, shredded into crumbs. Heat the milk in the pan with the onion until a skin forms, and then remove from the heat, and remove the onion. Leave until completely cool and then stir in the breadcrumbs, then reheat gently before serving.

Keep the birds warm while you make a gravy with the juices from the roasting tin, flour and the red wine, pour it straight over the birds and serve with the bread sauce. Ideal, and filling. Best eaten thinly sliced autumn vegetables: carrots, leeks and parsnip, lightly fried.

Classic Roast Grouse (serves 4)

Ingredients:

4 young grouse

8 rashers streaky bacon

300ml stock

1 level tbsp cornflour

Black pepper

Watercress for garnish

Directions:Tie two bacon rashers around each bird so that the breast and legs are covered. Place in a roasting tin and cook in a hot oven (200°C, gas mark 6) for 45 minutes. Transfer the birds to a serving dish, cover and keep hot. Then blend the cornflour with a little stock and add to the pan. Gradually add the rest of the stock, a shake of pepper and bring to the boil.

Serve with gravy, fried breadcrumbs and cranberry or elderberry jelly, and garnish with watercress.

Easy Roasted Grouse For Two

Ingredients

4 thin rashers of fatty bacon

2 young grouse, oven-ready

50g/2oz butter

2 slices of bread

25g/1oz flour

Bread sauce

Gamey gravy

Fried breadcrumbs

Directions: Tie a rasher of bacon over each grouse breast, and roast for 35 minutes at 180°C gas mark 4, basting with butter. Toast the bread, and when the birds are just over half-cooked, place a slice under each one. When nearly cooked, remove the bacon, dust the birds with flour and baste again to brown them. Serve the birds on the toast with bread sauce, gravy and breadcrumbs.

CASSEROLES

Plain Grouse Casserole

This method is good for all kinds of grouse, old and new. The way to tell which it is, is to look at the wings: if the outer wings are still pointed the bird is young, but if they are the same as the rest you are dealing with an old bird.

Ingredients:

2 grouse

6oz cubed smoked bacon

4 onions

Sprig of thyme

½ pint of stout

1 tbl spoon butter

salt and pepper

Directions:Chop the onions, and the grouse, and put into a casserole dish. Then add the bacon, the thyme and add salt and pepper. Add stout and boil for a few minutes, then put it in the oven at 280°C for an hour. After an hour add a glass of dry sherry, and more stout if it looks dry. Cook for a further half an hour.

Casserole of Grouse with Port and Chestnuts

Ingredients:

2 good-sized onions, chopped finely.

3-4 tsp sunflower oil

2lb grouse, chopped

1tsp flour

275ml port

2tsp balsamic vinegar

1pint stock

Rind of 1 orange

Salt

Pepper

1 tsp redcurrant jelly

1 tin chestnuts, unsweetened

Directions: Heat the oil, and brown the meat a little at a time, then lower the heat and brown the onions. Stir in the flour, cook for a minute, then add the port, and the balsamic vinegar and the stock, stir until the sauce boils. Then add the orange, the salt pepper, redcurrant jelly and chestnuts, then replace the meat, and covering it with a lid, let it cook for an our at a moderate temperature, about 200°C. Then you can keep it in the fridge for a while, as long as it is brought out and stands at room temperature for 45 minutes before being reheated. Serves six.

Ravenseat Grouse (serves 4)

Ingredients

2 old grouse

1 chicken stock cube dissolved in 600ml water

1 small onion, finely sliced

1 large carrot, sliced

2tbsp whisky

225g chopped mushrooms

chopped parsley

Directions:Either pressure-cook the grouse with the onion, carrot and stock for 30 minutes or simmer in a saucepan for an hour. Then Remove the birds from the pan and, when cool enough to handle, split them in half and trim away the rib-bones. Place the grouse halves in a casserole dish.

Then liquidise the softened vegetables or pass through a sieve, and add to the casserole together with the remaining stock, and add the chopped mushrooms, parsley and whisky. Cover and cook in a moderate oven (180°C) for a further hour.

OTHER METHODS

Grouse in a Red Wine Sauce

Ingredients:

1 tablespoon olive oil

2 peeled and diced green onions

1 tablespoon butter

1/2 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves

4 sage leaves

Directions: Heat a sauté pan until it is very hot and add one tablespoon of olive oil. When the oil sizzles, sear the grouse on both sides to give it a slight crispiness, which should take only about 15 seconds. Now place the bird in a small roasting pan along with 2 chopped onions, 1 tablespoon butter, 1/2 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves and 4 sage leaves.

Place the pan in a preheated 200°C and cook for about 15 minutes, until medium-rare, basting the bird in the pan with herb butter every 5 minutes or so. A red wine reduction, placing some shallots and red wine over a medium heat, and heating through with some butter should accompany this dish, with seasonal vegetables.

Pan-Fried Grouse with Skirlie and Glazed Beetroot by Nick Nairn

Ingredients

For the glazed beetroot:

50g/2oz butter

1 medium red onion, finely chopped

500g/1lb young beetroot, peeled and diced

Maldon salt and freshly ground black pepper

For the skirlie:

50g/2oz bacon fat, or beef or duck dripping

1 medium onion, finely chopped

125g/4½oz medium or coarse oatmeal

For the sauce:

300ml/10fl oz red wine

450ml/15fl oz grouse stock

1 tbsp rowan or redcurrant jelly

25g/1oz unsalted butter, chilled and diced

8 fresh young grouse, breasts removed and skinned (see below for instructions – legs and carcasses kept for stock)

olive oil

Directions: First, remove the grouse breasts, then cook the beetroot, by melting the butter in a saucepan and adding the onion. Cook for five minutes until softened and add the beetroot. Pour in 150ml/5fl oz water and simmer for 15 minutes, turn up the heat and evaporate any remaining liquid. When the liquid has disappeared, stir the beetroot over a high heat for 2 or 3 minutes until it begins to caramelise. Taste and season. Keep warm.

Then melt the dripping or fat in a frying pan and add the onion. Cook over a gentle heat until just beginning to turn golden. Stir in the oatmeal and skirl around the pan for a couple of minutes until the fat is absorbed and the oatmeal smells toastie. Keep warm.

Then for the sauce put the red wine and rowan jelly in a saucepan and reduce to about 2 tbsp. Add the grouse stock and boil to reduce by half. Taste and season. Whisk in the butter and do not allow the sauce to boil. Keep warm.

Season the grouse breasts with salt and pepper. Heat a heavy-based frying pan until very hot. Add 1 tbsp of oil to the pan then the breasts, skinned-side down. Fry for 2 minutes then turn over and fry for 2 minutes more. Take the pan off the heat onto a cold surface (this will allow them to rest and keep warm).

Finally, slice the breasts and set the slices on top of the skirlie and pour the sauce around.

Game Terrine

Grouse can also be incorporated into this Game Terrine which is especially lovely while the weather remains warm:

Ingredients

450g/1lb raw boneless game, such as duck, venison, pheasant, rabbit

1 onion finely chopped

1 garlic clove, crushed

25g/2oz butter

1 egg yolk

450g/1lb minced belly of pork

55g/2oz fresh white breadcrumbs

1 tbsp fresh thyme leaves

225g/8oz chicken livers (use duck or goose livers if you have them, soaked in milk for 30 minutes)

85g/3oz pistachio nuts, shelled

450g/1lb rindless smoked bacon rashers, thinly sliced

For the marinade:

Port and/or red wine

Bay leaf

Onion slices

Seasoning

Directions:Marinate the game overnight in red wine or port, together with the bay leaf, onion slices and seasoning. Remove and patdry, then trim to remove all fat, skin and any sinews.

Preheat the oven to 180C/350F/ Gas 4. Cook the onion and garlic in the butter until softened. Reserve eight to nine good pieces of game, then blend the remaining game, egg yolk andonion in a food processor, until combined.

Transfer the mixture to a large bowl and add the belly of pork, breadcrumbs, thyme leaves and chicken livers. If using duck or goose livers, lightly saut? in butter before adding. Mix togetherwell and add the pistachio nuts. Season generously-a terrine tends to need plenty of salt.

Grease a 900g/21b loaf tin and line, crossways, with the bacon rashers. Spoon in X of the mixture, then cover with a few pieces of reserved gamepieces. Repeat layering until the tin is full, then fold the bacon rashers over the top, adding a few more lengthways, if necessary to cover top completely.

Cover the loaf tin with buttered paper, then foil. Stand in a roasting tin andpour in hot water to come halfway up the tin sides.

Cook for 1.5 hours or until the terrine juices run clear when pierced with a skewer. Cool, then weight down to flatten. Keep covered in the fridge until ready to turn out. Slice to serve.