Glorious Twelfth: Tips for buying and preparing grouse

The  Staff Canteen

The Staff Canteen

Editor 12th August 2014

Ahead of Glorious Twelfth, take a look at these tips when it comes to buying and preparing grouse.  

The red grouse, native to the UK, is one of the most sought after of the game meats. Its shooting season lasts only 16 weeks meaning that the time between 12th August and 10th December, grouse is in high demand.

Paul Gayler - Image by Guy Hinks

Consultant Chef at

Braehead Foods, Paul Gayler

For Consultant Chef at Braehead Foods, Paul Gayler the 12th  August is a “landmark date during the culinary year”. Braehead Foods supply some of the best hotels and restaurants with Scottish game and fine food. For game fans, the grouse is a “real treat” Paul says, “the meat of the bird is rich, dark and tasty”.

During the last century, the quantity and variety of game for domestic cooks had shrunk. However Paul notes that today, large supermarkets are “experimenting with game to great success” as well as small butchers seeking out reliable, quality suppliers.

Paul adds: “In the kitchens of the great restaurants game cookery is once again finding new favour.”

It's important to consider the quality of the grouse you buy

Game suppliers and wholesalers are spreading their produce further to fit with the renewed demand. When buying a grouse it’s important to consider what you’re buying.

A good quality bird should have minimal bruising and little shot damage. Bruising is likely to occur because grouse fly close to the ground at high speeds, when they are shot they will hit the ground. 

Excessive bruising can distort the flavour of the game. Shooting the grouse cleanly will help ensure minimal damage to the meat itself as well as a quick death for the bird. Paul advises that you should not buy birds that have been shot in the breast as their meat will be bloody and inedible. Additionally, as with any game, it should have an attractive appearance, looking fresh and plump. It should hardly have an odour, but any smell it does have should not be unpleasant.

Glorious Grouse
Tom Kitchin

What to look for when buying grouse

The skin of the bird should be dry but ideally not split. The younger the bird, the more supple it is and therefore preferable. A young grouse will have a softer head and claws and a pliable lower beak. A sign of a more mature grouse is a detached claw, as they shed them in the summer months, a scar across the claw indicates this. Young grouse are best when simply roasted, while the older birds are tastiest when braised or put into pies.

How do you store and cook Grouse?

Oven-ready birds should be refrigerated and can keep for a few days. Freshly shot birds can be eaten straight away, after that they can be hung for 2-3 days. As grouse has a strong flavour already, this part of the process is down to personal preference as hanging strengthens the gamey taste. The legs of the grouse are the strongest in flavour. Due to the active nature of the bird, it is a lean meat, rich in protein and nutrients.

As it is such a lean meat, it can dry out quite easily if it is overcooked. It can be accompanied by many different foods in a variety of different ways but the flavour of the meat can stand alone, needing little enhancement. Hints of the heather and grasses the bird eats can be noted in the meat, giving it a natural flavour. A traditional way of preparing grouse is to roast it, laced with bacon.

See how chef Adam Smith is cooking grouse:

By Jessica McComish

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The  Staff Canteen

The Staff Canteen

Editor 12th August 2014

Glorious Twelfth: Tips for buying and preparing grouse