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”.
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. People will pay quite a lot of money for the experience of shooting and eat the bird. 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.
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. 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.
Young birds can be distinguished by their softer heads, pliable