A British Icon, the famed red grouse signals the start of the game season on The Glorious Twelfth - the twelfth day of August.
Red Yorkshire grouse are packed with complex flavours from feeding on heather tips and bilberries - the rich, dark meat is simply incomparable. We like to keep things simple and recommend serving roasted grouse (one generous portion per bird) with game chips, watercress and bread sauce.
The landscape on our doorstep is rich with wild game, and as such we work with small shoots across The Yorkshire Dales who manage the landscape sympathetically and maintain high levels of biodiversity - something we feel is of prime importance.
Valentine Warner shares his thoughts on wild red grouse:
‘Goback, goback, goback‘ - the vocalisation of the grouse thrills me to the core, both uplifts yet haunts me no less, as to be observing or hunting them is to be in a most special, quiet and unique landscape, the grouse and heather so eternally intertwined.
Whether seen as a covey whizzing low along the maroon contours of the moors like a squadron of tiny fighter jets or singularly pacing its look out boulder, a plump tweeded sentinel, and for me the grouse is the definitive emblem of what we can consider the last vestiges of wild Britain.
Wading this heather in rare sunshine or pelting rain you have to work for a grouse and it is this gesture of exchange, a life for a meal that sees me only want to show the utmost respect to what I consider the greatest prize of all our game birds.
Nibbling on heather tips and bilberries the purple flesh of the grouse is nothing short of exquisite. Like the snipe and woodcock the grouse will not eat from cultivated crops and so picky as its diet requires is among the truest wild meat upon a plate.
While old recipes regard hanging as a necessity I tend to disagree as the results can be too strong and put off first timers. I only see reason to hang the older or end of season birds for two days at most as I feel it can spoil such delicious meat, meat so full of simultaneous depth and subtlety. The breast and leg meat are totally different, the latter often compromised by hanging.
Grouse is expensive but worth every penny whilst one may also consider the huge expense in getting them to table. Personally a walked up grouse is the highest prize, a few taken a few cooked, the best of all meat from the lonely places. A highpoint in the seasonal cooking calendar I’m eager for the first birds in, the joy of every single one as equal as the first I ever ate.