Cook roast grouse with spiced poached pears, pear and nutella crumble or pear tarte tatin.
Pears are definitely the ones to watch in the orchard. You have to time it carefully, but this year, we harvested perfect ones, piling them into baskets and bringing them up to the kitchen, where I had to immediately start planning recipes to make sure we get through them all.
Roast grouse with spiced poached pears (serves 4)
400ml red wine
2 star anise
1 cinnamon stick
30g caster sugar
200ml chicken stock
250g large red potatoes
25ml sunflower oil
8 slices pancetta
Mix the red wine, star anise, cinnamon stick, sugar and seasoning in a saucepan and bring up to a gentle simmer. Peel the pears and arrange them in the pan, then simmer for about 45 minutes. Remove them with a slotted spoon and set aside.
Remove the star anise and cinnamon stick, then pour in the stock and bring to a rolling simmer. Reduce it by two-thirds, then whisk in the butter to make it glossy.
Peel the potatoes and slice them as thinly as possible, using a mandolin. Fry them in the sunflower oil until browned and crispy.
Preheat your oven to 180˚C/350˚F/gas mark 4. Take a roasting dish and heat a splash of olive oil in it on the hob. Add the grouse, turning them until they’re gently browned. Cover the breast of each grouse with two slices of pancetta, then roast in the oven for 12–15 minutes, depending on their size, until the juices run clear from the leg.
Remove the breast and legs from the birds and arrange on plates with a pear and the gravy. Scatter the potato crisps over them.
Pear tarte tatin
Melt 50g of butter in an ovenproof frying pan, then add a teaspoon of vanilla-bean paste. Sprinkle in 100g caster sugar and heat until it’s turned golden. Arrange peeled, halved and cored pears, cut side up, in the pan, and cook briefly before covering with a circle of puff pastry. Tuck the edges in carefully and bake in a hot oven for about 25 minutes. Invert onto a plate, slice and serve warm with vanilla ice cream.
Pear and Nutella hazelnut crumble
Take a 1 litre-capacity ovenproof dish, grease it with butter and fill it with peeled, halved and cored pears. Dot teaspoonfuls of Nutella around them, then sprinkle a crumble mixture made from 100g plain flour, 100g ground hazelnuts, 50g brown sugar and 50g unsalted butter over them. Bake in a moderately hot oven until the crumble has browned, which should take about 30 minutes. Serve with vanilla ice cream.
This article was originally published in Country Life October 1, 2014