Roast Grouse with Mystery Sauce

Young grouse really are a treat but a total waste of money if you overcook them. The flesh must be pink and therefore still juicy. The dark sauce in this recipe is a mystery because no one can ever guess what it is made from. Serve the grouse with new potatoes and either mange tout or broccoli.

Ingredients

  • 1 small–medium parsnip, peeled and cut into smallish pieces
  • 4-5 large cloves garlic, chopped roughly
  • 250 g (8 oz) mushrooms, chopped roughly (include the stalks)
  • 300 ml (½ pint) freshly squeezed orange juice
  • 4 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 4 young grouse
  • 50 g (2 oz) unsalted butter
  • 1 heaped tablespoon fresh tarragon leaves
  • Salt and black pepper

Method

Put the parsnip, garlic and mushrooms in a saucepan with the orange juice, soy sauce and a sprinkling of black pepper. Bring to the boil over a high heat, then cover and simmer gently for about 45 minutes until soft, mushy and dark in colour. Then whizz the mixture to a purée in a food processor. You should have a thickish sauce. Taste for seasoning and leave on one side while you roast the grouse.

Wipe the birds inside and out, sprinkle with salt and pepper and put a generous knob of butter inside each bird. Smear the remaining butter on the base of a roasting tin and add the birds breast side down. Cook in the centre of a preheated oven, 220°C, 425°F, Gas Mark 7 for 25 minutes, basting occasionally and turning the birds on to their backs for the last 10 minutes of the cooking time. Remove the birds from the roasting tin (making sure that the juices from inside the bodies empty into the pan) and put them on warmed individual serving plates while you finish the sauce.

Pour the sauce into the roasting tin with the buttery juices, put it over a medium heat and bring the sauce to the boil, stirring constantly. Lastly, stir in the tarragon leaves, boil for a moment more and either pour the sauce into a sauceboat to serve with the grouse or spoon it directly next to the grouse on the individual plates.

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