Roast Grouse with Bread Sauce and Game Crumbs

For a good grouse recipe, we turned to English chef Simon Hopkinson's Roast Chicken and Other Stories (Ebury Press, 1994). According to Hopkinson, this preparation is the only way to cook and serve the bird.

Roast Grouse with Bread Sauce and Game Crumbs
Grouse, the flavorful, worldly cousin to chicken, is a popular game bird in the UK. This recipe is a superlative preparation after a good day's hunt.
Yield: serves 4

For the Bread Sauce

  • 1 12 cups milk
  • 6 tbsp. butter
  • 1 small yellow onion, peeled and chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, unpeeled
  • 12 whole cloves
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 sprig fresh thyme
  • Salt
  • 3 tbsp. heavy cream
  • 2 cups fresh white bread crumbs
  • Freshly ground black pepper

For the Grouse and "Game Crumbs"

  • 10 tbsp. butter
  • 2 cups fresh white bread crumbs
  • 13 cup medium dry sherry
  • 2 tbsp. chopped fresh parsley
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 4 (3/4-lb.) grouse
  • 8 strips bacon
  • Red currant jelly

Instructions

  1. For the bread sauce: Combine milk, butter, onions, garlic, cloves, bay leaf, thyme, and salt to taste in a saucepan. Bring just to a boil over medium-high heat, then reduce heat to medium-low and simmer for 10 minutes. Remove from heat, cover, and set aside to steep for 1 hour.
  2. For the game crumbs: Melt 6 tbsp. butter in a skillet over medium heat. Add bread crumbs, reduce heat to medium-low, and cook, stirring occasionally, until crisp, 5-8 minutes. Add sherry, cook until evaporated, about 3 minutes, then add parsley, season with salt and pepper, and cover with aluminum foil to keep warm.
  3. For the grouse: Preheat oven to 425°. Rinse grouse, pat dry, rub with 4 tbsp. butter, and season inside and out with salt and pepper. Wrap 2 bacon strips around each grouse, then place in a roasting pan. Roast until grouse is brown, about 25 minutes. Allow to rest for 10 minutes.
  4. Meanwhile, to finish bread sauce, strain milk mixture into a saucepan. Warm over medium-low heat, then whisk in cream. Add bread crumbs (not Game Crumbs!) and generously season with pepper. Top each grouse with Game Crumbs and serve with Bread Sauce, currant jelly, and, if desired, steamed green beans.