The grouse bird is a small creature, popular with shooting enthusiasts and chefs alike. As it is an agile bird, its meat is lean and typically lower in fat than a lot of other birds such as chicken, making grouse recipes a popular alternative to red meat.

A typical serving of grouse is one per person due to their size. There are several types of grouse in the UK including the Black Grouse, Capercaillie, Ptarmigan, and the most popular, Red Grouse. The start of grouse hunting season in the UK is said to be August 12th, commonly referred to as “Glorious Twelfth”.

Where are grouse found?


The birds are generally found in the heather moors of Scotland, Northern Ireland and northern areas of England. There are also several species in North America such as the Spruce Grouse, Sooty Grouse, and Sharp-tailed Grouse. In the UK however, the season for the shooting the infamous Red Grouse is an event.

How much does it cost to go grouse shooting?


People will pay quite a lot of money for the experience of shooting and eat the bird which can range anywhere between £35 per bird to £33,000 per day for a large shoot. In July, the grouse are counted, if the numbers do not exceed 200 grouse per kilometre, the shoot may not go ahead. Many chefs are eager to get the first grouse of the season onto the plates in their restaurants. The Red Grouse is a medium-sized game bird, with a notably brown-red coat, black tail and red eyebrows.

The grouse bird is the only truly wild game bird in the UK, attempts to raise them have never been a success. However, their habitats are managed by gamekeepers who carry out the careful rotational burning of the heather on the moors to produce fresh new heather shoots. The heather, which makes up the majority of the birds’ diet, gives the meat an enjoyable natural flavour.

What to look for when buying grouse 


When buying grouse, the flesh must be a distinctive deep red colour. The bird should be plump with fresh looking skin, not oily or too moist but not dry enough to split. Birds which smell off should be avoided. As it is a game bird, it will have shot damage, but this should be clean and minimal. The bird should be unblemished and bruising marks should be few as bruising can distort the meat’s flavour. If buying an oven-ready bird, this can be refrigerated and should keep for a few days.

How long do grouse have to be left hanging?


Freshly shot grouse can be eaten straight away or can be hung for two to three days. Grouse already has quite a strong gamey flavour, hanging the meat will make it even stronger, if this is not desired the hanging can be skipped. The legs of the grouse are the strongest in the flavour of all the meat on the bird.

How to cook grouse


Young birds can be distinguished by their softer heads, pliable beaks and shorter third feather on the wing. Older birds often have marks on their claws where they have previously been shed. The younger bird is generally preferred but the mature bird tastes great when braised or in casseroles, cooked slowly with liquids such as wine and a stock. Younger bird tastes best when roasted whole, commonly served with rich deep, autumnal flavours. To keep the bird moist whilst cooking, bacon can be wrapped around the bird to keep it succulent. Grouse recipes for the fillet of grouse are usually for pan-frying the meat or making it the main ingredient in a casserole. Depending on the age of the bird, cooking times can vary between 20 and 40 minutes.

Grouse Recipes: