Incredibly the United Kingdom has over 75% of the world’s remaining heather moorlands, making it a habitat far scarcer than rainforest or even mangroves. These beautiful moors seen on holidays, from a car window or dreamily shot in films such as Wuthering Heights exist because of one bird: The Red Grouse.
The Red Grouse is a very picky bird, in that it needs new heather shoots in which to feed, and longer heather in which to nest. Land owners therefore have to constantly clear parts of their moorland on rotation, and it is this that ensures the heather strewn landscape does not become overgrown. A rare bird, in a rare landscape, these grouse are unique to our isles, and as such form part of the Slow Food Ark of Taste – food that is unique to a particular place, and at risk of dying out all together if we do not eat it.
These plucky birds, a king’s ransom at the start of the shooting season, can now be bought for £7 or so from good butchers (Allens and Lidgates are both incredible butchers who have next day delivery UK wide), which whilst not as an inexpensive as chicken, is a lot cheaper than a take away pizza, and also helps pay to keep our countryside look astonishing it’s beauty.
I think Grouse is best cooked simply, roasted for twenty minutes or so, a single raspberry (I still am picking the last of my Autumn Fruiting canes) which offsets it’s herbal-Campari like flavour. Simple cooking, and with the flavour of the moors with every bite.