Leon Davies, British Game Alliance Chef Ambassador, has over 18 years of experience in the hospitality industry and has also worked with Michelin Star chefs in some of the most prestigious hotels and restaurants in the world.
Leon has a passion for game meat and as a result has cooked his fair share of shoot lunches in the field, as well as spending plenty of time developing new, innovative game recipes at home for his work with the British Game Alliance.
Last season, Leon headed up to a BGA grouse moor in Yorkshire on the Glorious Twelfth to shoot his first grouse and cook it fresh in the field that same day, here, Leon played with delicious Jamaican Jerk flavours complemented by his Caribbean Coleslaw. Ahead of the Grouse season, we asked Leon for his top tips for cooking grouse at home and in the field…
Leon Davies, BGA Chef Ambassador:
I personally believe that gone are the days where we stop at just cooking whole roasted game birds, such as grouse, when there is so much more we can do to utilise the strong flavours and avoid drying out the breasts as the legs take much longer to cook with this method.
If you have never cooked grouse before, it is important to know that it can be cooked for just a few minutes so that it is pink inside. This is a delicious way to enjoy grouse, as it’s a lean bird, so ensures the moisture is retained.
My first tip would be, unless you are going to cook a whole grouse within a water bath, which is really a very ‘restauranty’ method, is to explore breaking down the grouse and using each part innovatively. A great alternative to this, which uses the whole bird, is to Spatchcock a whole grouse and slow cook then add whatever flavoured rubs you would like to this before barbecuing it or crisping it up in a pan or the oven.
A couple of great grouse recipes I love to cook go down a treat with my children, but can also be used for a nice Elevenses on a shoot day or even as a great bar snack in the pub if you are looking to serve more game on the menu:
Grouse Goujons: My top tip for making these is to use a Cajun spiced rub with the breadcrumbs to add some flavour. This really appeals to the kids, as it’s almost a game version of KFC – they love it!
Grouse Bon Bons: I’m a huge fan of my Grouse Bon Bons for the same reason. My children love them and they can also be used as a great Elevenses dish at a shoot too. It’s best to use the leg meat for these and I like to give a nod to the heritage of the Grouse, as a northern bird, by rolling the cooked confit leg meat with haggis and a bit of mash to help bind it. Once together, I would make these in inch-sized balls, cover with double Panko breadcrumbs and deep fry. Serve with savoury blackberry chutney, or puree of beetroot or any other root vegetable puree to be honest works very well – delicious!
One of the tastiest parts of the grouse is the leg meat, especially when used with a nice rub. I would recommend a Jamaican Jerk or a BBQ flavoured rub. These can be stuck on to a skewer and simply barbequed for 3 minutes each side before serving with a crunchy chicory and breakfast radish slaw salad. More recently, I’ve been adding a 5-spice rub to crisping up in the oven serving with julienne of cucumber, spring onions and Chinese pancakes, hoisin sauce.
Let’s not forget the breast, which is such a delight, lightly cooked to preserve the moisture. Personally I serve pink, again with its intense flavour I would pair with things like, Blackberries, figs, carrots, and beetroots all work very well.
My little secret treat to myself, is to keep the liver and heart which I would dice with banana shallots, wild mushrooms and quickly pan fry dropping in a touch of double cream and grain mustard at the end serve on sourdough toast, if your lucky and have truffle to hand shave some over the top, or truffle scented oil works too.
We have a fantastic selection of new recipes for grouse, as well as Mallard, Partridge, Pheasant for later in the season, over on Eat Wild. These are easy to follow and explore different ways of using these delicious game birds. Visit: www.eatwild.co/recipes.