The 12th of August, when the first Grouse are shot in Scotland, is a date marked on all serious chefs’ calendars and our freshly shot birds come via Tom, a close friend of head chef Johnny Aitken, where all eager hands in the kitchen grab a bird and start the therapeutic plucking ritual, after all we’ve been waiting all year.
Grouse is a fine bird that gets its unmistakeable herby tang from the young heather it eats and a slight fruitiness from the blae berries it forages. It’s not to everybody’s taste, but those that like it generally love it.
At Knockderry Country House Hotel we love to have grouse on the menu, simply roasting it whole and serving it with seasonal vegetables such as pumpkin with bread sauce, homemade rowan berry and crab apple jelly and a stack of game chips……Delicious!
Recipe: Bread Sauce
2 large bay leaves
Pinch of Salt
1 small onion (peeled)
120g fresh white breadcrumbs
Method-Put milk, butter and salt into a pot
Pin the bay leaf to the onion with the cloves (studded onion) and put into the milk mixture
Bring the mixture to the boil
Add breadcrumbs and bring back to the boil. Serve.
Recipe: Pumpkin Gnocchi
500g Potato (peeled)
300g ‘00’ Pasta flour
Salt and pepper
Put a large pot of salted water on to boil, at least 3 litres in preparation for cooking the gnocchi.
Boil the potatoes in another pot until tender, 15-20 minutes, then drain.
Pass potatoes through a potato ricer directly onto your work surface, repeat the process with the pumpkin and mix together.
Sprinkle over salt and pepper and work in the flour, continue to do this until all flour is incorporated.
When the cooking water is at a fast boil, roll potato mixture into a long thin sausage rope and cut into 1cm pieces, traditionally each piece is rolled over the back of a fork, this gives the gnocchi its distinctive ridges.
Put gnocchi into the boiling water and it is ready when each piece floats to the surface. Spoon it out and coat it in olive oil.
To serve, gently fry the gnocchi in hot oil in a frying pan.
*A tablespoon of Harrissa can be added when mixing to add a bit of spice*