With their guns dusted down hunters set off in search of the first red grouse of the season last week, marking the start of the game season in the UK.
The prospect of the first grouse of the season has had butchers and restauranteurs salivating for weeks, including Richard Corrigan who celebrates the season with a speciality grouse menu for one week from August 27, at his restaurant Corrigan’s Mayfair.
“The young red grouse are great for grilling, served with wild blackberries - a sweet and slightly acidic note to complement the unmistakable taste of this succulent bird. We’ll stick with tradition by serving our famous grouse pie. Made for sharing, the pie is layered with grouse, foie gras and duxell of wild mushrooms - a true feast,” says Richard.
If your grouse knowledge isn’t up to scratch, the Bird Association for Shooting & Conservation are at hand with these game facts:
- Red grouse are only found in the British Isles.
- Grouse eat up to 50g of young heather every day.
- They are not reared by gamekeepers, but live in their natural habitat.
- There are 459 grouse moors in the UK covering 1,500,000 hectares.
- Grouse shooting takes place on moorland as far south as Wales and Derbyshire and as far north as the Highlands of Scotland.
- Moors vary in size from 200 hectares to nearly 10,000 hectares with an average of 2,000 hectares.
- Grouse densities of more than 60 birds per sq km at August 12 are necessary if moorland is to be economically viable for driven shooting.
- An adult red grouse can hit 80mph - requires high level of skill for shooting.
- In order to protect grouse numbers and other moorland birds, predators such as foxes, crows and stoats are controlled by gamekeepers.
- August 12 marks the start of the grouse-shooting season. Throughout this period shooters from all over the world head for the moors of Scotland and northern England.
- The season lasts from August 12 to December 10 on mainland Great Britain and from August 12 to November 30 in Northern Ireland.
If you’re buying grouse to cook at home, always buy it from your local butcher's shop and ensure it’s been hung for 48-hours for a tender and mature flavour.
The best places to buy grouse:
The Hampstead Butcher & Providore [online and in store]
Harrods Food Hall [in store only]
Allens of Mayfair [online and in store]