The Glorious Twelfth is the New Year’s Eve of the shooting season. Eagerly counted down to by every shotgun owner in the land, come the 12 August, Guns head to the heather-clad undulating hills to bag their first bird.
One of the common misconceptions regarding this auspicious date is that you need to be loaded (pardon the pun) to go grouse shooting – but nothing could be further from the truth. Indeed, those Guns that are out shooting grouse on or near the Glorious Twelfth will be taking part in small-bag, walked-up rough grouse shooting, which can cost as little as a couple of hundred pounds for the day. The big bags (and more expensive grouse shooting) are found a few weeks into the season, when more of the grouse chicks are of a shootable size. Why is this important, I hear you cry?
Well, when grouse are flying straight at you, as they are with driven grouse, it’s hard to differentiate between a full-grown adult and a “cheeper” ( or young grouse), so driven grouse are usually shot later in the season, when the cheepers have had a little more growing time. This mean’s they’ll be bigger, so the inability to differentiate between the adult and young birds becomes less important, as there will still be plenty of meat on both.
Griddled grouse with claret and heather honey gravy
2 dressed grouse
1 red onion, sliced
2 fresh limes
a good glug of rapeseed oil
1 bag of sugarsnap peas
1 bag of French beans
8 carrots (peeled and sliced)
A couple of knobs of butter
A glass of good claret
Salt and pepper
Chop your dressed grouse in half (along the breast bone). Liberally season with salt and pepper. Heat the rapeseed oil in a griddle pan, add the sliced red onion and your grouse cuts, placing their “inside” sides down. Squeeze the juices of two limes over the bird, and cook on a high heat for around five minutes.
After this time, turn the grouse cuts over to cook for one more minute. Then remove the pan from the heat, cover the pan with foil and leave to rest (the dish will continue to sizzle from the residual heat). Meanwhile, steam some summer vegetables (I’ve suggested French beans, sugarsnap peas and carrots) then coat them with butter and season.
For the grouse gravy
Strain the juices from the cooked birds, along with a heaped teaspoon of Scottish heather honey, 2 large glasses of good claret, season, and put over a fierce heat. Reduce until thick (this should take a couple of minutes), then plate your food and drizzle a spoonful of the gravy over your Glorious Grouse.