The turning leaves and cooler weather of the British countryside are a clear indication that the short Northern European summer is coming to an end.
It also foreshadows the arrival of grouse season and, with it, the delicious dishes that accompany the fall months of Great Britain.
For the best recipe we know in existence, we turned to the head chef of Wiltons, a London restaurant that is as historic (it opens its doors in 1742) as it is iconic to the London Beretta Gallery staff and customers, with its location but a short-walk away from our London store.
Here is the original Wiltons recipe, followed by a brief history of the restaurant.
Says the chef:
"At Wiltons we take pride in ensuring we have some of the best grouse in the country on our table and we also think it should be cooked simply so you can enjoy all the delights this glorious bird has to offer.
This is our recipe for you to cook this bird at home, but dont forget if your going to do the traditional roast you need game chips, watercress and bread sauce."
The Roast Grouse
This happens in three parts: the bird is seared on all sides on top of the oven it's then roasted in a very hot oven and, finally, it's rested. If any of these phases is skimped, the grouse will probably be under-, or unevenly, cooked.
You will have to ask your butcher to prep the bird for you and ask him for some trimmings too.
1 prepared grouse per serving
20ml sunflower oil
50g dice of celeriac, carrot, shallots (mirepoix)
Sprig of fresh thyme
Make sure you have taken the grouse out of the fridge 30 minutes before you roast them. If you stand it with its breast pointing upwards, the juices inside it will be better distributed.
Heat the oil in a heavy-duty pan that will just contain the grouse.
Lay the bird on one side of its breast and begin searing it. Turn it over on to the other side.
Add the mirepoix and thyme.
Turn it on to its back and continue to fry.
Hold up the grouse and sear the plump ends of the breast.
Pour brandy into the pan.
Transfer pan and grouse to a preheated oven at 200°C Fan assisted.
Allow 8 minutes for Medium Rare and 12 minutes for Medium.
Rest the grouse at least 10 minutes before carving it.
Now you will never get the carcase of the grouse to make the gravy like we do in restaurants so ask your butcher for the neck and winglets so you can have a rich sauce that should accompany this glorious bird.
200g grouse trimmings
1 streaky bacon rasher
1 banana shallots, rough dice
1 garlic bulb, peeled and sliced
1 sprig of thyme
1 bay leaf
5 white peppercorns
5 juniper berries
1tsp sherry vinegar
1tbsp red wine
500ml veal stock
500ml chicken stock
- Colour off the grouse trimmings and bacon in a sauce pan.
- Add the shallots, garlic, herbs and spices. Cook this on a medium heat for 5 minutes.
- Now add the sherry vinegar and let it reduce down to syrup. Just keep stirring this to release any taste morsels left on the pan.
- When its syrup and the port and reduce to a glaze, by glaze I mean a syrup consistency.
- Now add the red wine and reduce to a glaze. All we are doing here is concentrating the flavours of the wine.
- Its now time to add the stocks and bring to the boil.
- Simmer, skim and cook out for 40 minutes approximately. The sauce should coat the back of the spoon and taste full in the mouth. If you think its there, strain it and put it in the fridge till you need it.
Always in the St. James's area, WILTONS originally opened in 1742 as a stall selling oysters, shrimps and cockles in the Haymarket by George William Wilton, a local shellfish monger. Business prospered and moved in 1805 toCockspur Street.
Over the next 50 years, the premises moved around St James's and became a fully-fledged restaurant in 1840 onRyder Street, calledWiltonsOyster Rooms. The first Royal Warrant was received in 1884 as Purveyor of Oysters to QueenVictoria, and a second as Purveyors to the Prince of Wales.
In 1889, the restaurant moved out of the family for the first time and was bought by David Edwin Winder. In 1930, the license was taken over by Mrs Bessie Leal. Mrs Leal held the license until 1942, when a bomb was dropped on St. Jamess Church, Piccadilly. Mrs Leal folded her towel and declared to Mr Olaf Hambro who happened to be eating oysters at the bar thatWiltonswas closed. Mr Hambros response was to request thatWiltonsbe added to his bill.
Mr Hambro engaged the services of Jimmy Marks, then oyster man at Bucks Club, and reopened a week later. WILTONS moved toBury Streetin 1964 then to its current site at55 Jermyn Streetin 1984. The restaurant is still owned by the Hambro family.
Its currentJermyn Streetlocation, in the heart of St James's, is ideally suited to its clientele, which includes members of the government, businesspersons, film stars and British aristocracy. Service is discreet, professional and welcoming. WILTONS is a British classic.
Wiltons Restaurant, 55 Jermyn Street, London SW1Y 6LX - Telephone 020 7629 9955 www.wiltons.co.uk