Grouse season starts on 12 August but I’ve never seen them in butchers that early; apparently the younger birds have a less strident flavour than ones you get later on and if you find meat with a strong gamey flavour off-putting then grouse will probably be a bit too much. It’s probably the reason why it doesn’t feature often on menus in Irish restaurants, in fact, I’m not sure if I’ve ever seen it on offer.
With such rarity, I’ve only ever had the chance to cook with it once before so when I saw a lovely specimen in Fallon & Byrne I bought it straight away even though I’d no idea what I was going to do with it. On checking Modernist Cuisine, their recommended temperature is 50°C, which is very rare (in terms of doneness); you wouldn’t serve this to anyone who was pregnant or immuno-compromised and even if you wanted to it’s actually impossible to pasteurise the meat at such a low temperature so all you’re looking to do is get it up to 50°C and onto the plate as quickly as possible.
The accompanying sauce is really decadent: an emulsion of foie gras and cream (stabilised with xanthan gum) that adds some much needed fat to the dish as a counterpoint to the extreme leanness of the grouse. It wasn’t actually nearly as expensive as you’d think because last Christmas I’d bought a 1.2kg bag of frozen foie off-cuts from La Rousse Foodsfor €35. The quality is probably not good enough to serve fried on its own but it’s perfect for mousses, parfaits or other blended preparations.
I’ve also revisited a technique from last year by making corn ‘gnocchi’ using methylcellulose but this time substituting a different type of the gum with a much lower viscosity. As you can read in the linked post, the previous methylcellulose had a strong flavour I had to mask and the gnocchi were very firm whereas the new methylcellulose is virtually tasteless and produces a beautifully light dumpling that just dissolves in your mouth. I’d be interested to experiment with potatoes to see if I can make a somewhat traditional but featherlight, flourless gnocchi.
Recipe @ www.wholemeal.ie