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Roast grouse with bread sauce and parsnip chips

Serves 4

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4 grouse
Sunflower oil for deep frying
2 large parsnips
20g unsalted butter
200ml beef stock (a good quality stock cube will do)
200ml chicken stock (a good quality stock cube will do)
100ml red wine
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

For the bread sauce
1 onion, peeled and halved
50g unsalted butter
4 cloves
1 bay leaf
500ml milk
½ tsp ground nutmeg
100g fresh white breadcrumbs
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

To make the bread sauce, finely chop half the onion and cook it gently until soft in a heavy-bottomed saucepan with half the butter. Stud the other half of the onion with the cloves, pushing them through the bay leaf to anchor it. Put the milk, nutmeg and studded onion into the saucepan with the cooked onion and bring to the boil. Season and simmer for 10 to 15 minutes.

Remove the saucepan from the heat and leave the sauce to infuse for 30 minutes or so. Take out and discard the studded onion. Add the breadcrumbs and return the saucepan to a low heat. Simmer gently for 10 minutes, giving it an occasional stir. Add the remaining butter. Stir until the sauce has amalgamated; check and correct the seasoning if necessary. Keep warm.

Footnote: if the sauce is too thick, you can add a little extra milk.

Pre-heat the oven to 220ºC/gas mark 7.

Top and tail the parsnips, leaving the skin on, unless it’s very brown and, with a sharp knife or mandolin, slice them as thinly as possible lengthways, then dry them with a clean tea towel. Pour 6cm of sunflower oil into a medium-sized heavy-bottomed saucepan or deep fat fryer. Heat to 160°C. If using a saucepan, please be careful as the oil will be very hot. Fry the slices in the hot oil a few at a time, stirring to ensure that they don’t stick together. The parsnips will take a while to colour and may appear soft while they are still in the oil but once they have been drained they will dry out and crisp up. Leave them somewhere warm but not hot to dry.

Reduce the meat and chicken stock together by two-thirds in a heavy-bottomed saucepan.

Lightly season the grouse and rub the breasts with a little softened butter. Put them in a roasting tin and cook for about 12 minutes. If you insert a sharp knife or carving fork between the legs and breast, a little blood should run out. Pink is the ideal way to serve grouse or they will be too dry.

Take the grouse out of the roasting tin and put onto a plate to rest. Put the roasting tin over a low heat on the top, add the wine and stir the bottom to remove any cooking residue. Reduce completely and add the reduced stock. Simmer for a few minutes, add any residue juices from the grouse, and then strain through a sieve into a small pan. Keep warm.

Serve the grouse whole on individual plates with the parsnip chips, bread sauce and gravy on the side. We serve with buttered greens or Brussels sprouts and chestnuts.

Footnote: any leftover grouse can be used the next day for a delicious sandwich with a little redcurrant jelly!

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