Roast Grouse with Oranges and Blackberries

Is there a finer game bird than Grouse?  A young grouse is fantastic, but Young is important! How do you tell if it is young? in the first few weeks of the season they can be judged by size but they mature quickly. once September comes this is no longer a good guideline. the four main ways of telling young from old are: the lower beak will not hold the weight of the bird without breaking; if using only your thumb the skull can easily be crushed; the third primary feather is shorter than the others; and the first two primary feathers of a young bird are pointed - in an old bird they will be rounded. it is much harder to tell in you get them in prepared! Be warned.

4 portions

4 Young Grouse
2 Oranges
2tsp Sugar
120ml Water
150g Blackberries
25g unsalted Butter
50ml Red Wine Vinegar
85ml Red Wine
225ml Gasme Stock

Truss the grouse. Peel and segment the oranges. Remove the pith from the peel and cut half of the peel into a fine julienne. Roughly chop the remaining peel. Bring the sugar and the water to the boil, throw in the julienne and cook until about 2 teaspoons of the liquid remains. Leave to go cold. Save the 20 best blackberries to use as garnish later and puree the remainder. Rub the puree through a sieve to remove the seeds.

Season the grouse well. Heat the oil in a roasting pan and, when hot, add half the butter. Quickly sear the grouse in the hot fat on all sides. Place the grouse on one leg and roast in an oven heated to 230c/450f/gas 8 for 5 minutes. Turn the grouse on the other leg and roast for a further 5 minutes. Turn the birds on to their backs and cook for a final 5 minutes. Remove them from the pan and rest in a warm place for about 10 minutes. Remove the legs and breasts from the birds and keep warm. Roughly chop the carcasses. Pour off the fat from the pan and add the remaining butter. Brown the chopped carcasses in this. Pour off the fat, place the pan over a high heat, add the vinegar and reduce till gone. Pour in the red wine and reduce by half. Pour in the stock and add the blackberry puree, the roughly chopped orange peel and any juice both from the grouse and the oranges. Bring this to the boil and allow to simmer for 1 minutes. Pour the sauce through a fine strainer or muslin. If the sauce is a little too sharp then add a little of the syrup from the julienne. Keep warm.

Reheat the grouse in the oven for a couple of minutes. Arrange the saved blackberries in neat piles at the op of each plate. Arrange the orange segments either side of these. Place 2 legs in the centre of each plate and top with 2 breasts. Pour the sauce over and around the grouse. Drain the julienne from the syrup and place a neat pile on the centre of each grouse.

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