Easy it is, but this does take a little preparation time. The secret is to keep everything nice and simple, leaving the strong ﬂavours to come to the fore themselves. The other thing to stress here is that the grouse must be pink – gently poach this fabulous meat for a few seconds only. Marrow bones are getting easier to ﬁnd nowadays, partly due to being featured on television programmes and used by top chefs. I have just come back from Atlanta, Georgia, where even a burger chain is offering a half-cut roasted marrow bone as a side. A butcher will sell or split the bones for you so that you can remove the marrow. Bear in mind that the colder the marrow, the easier it is to remove. The silkiness that the marrow gives to the soup is amazing!
Preparation: 40 mins
Cooking: about 1 hour 10 mins
2 tablespoons any oil
4 grouse, legs removed and chopped; breasts removed, skin on; carcasses roughly chopped 750ml game stock (see below) or chicken stock
2 garlic cloves, chopped
1 tablespoon ﬁnely chopped fresh red chilli
1 small leek, split, washed well and ﬁnely chopped
1 small onion, ﬁnely sliced
1 red pepper, deseeded and ﬁnely chopped
100g very thin dried rice noodles
100g button mushrooms, ﬁnely sliced
salt and freshly ground black pepper
marrow from 1kg middle-cut thigh beef bones
100g Iceberg lettuce, ﬁnely shredded
2 tablespoons roughly chopped fresh coriander
- Heat a large non-stick frying pan, add the oil and the chopped leg meat from the grouse, along with the carcass, and gently fry for a good 10 minutes to brown really well. Pop into a large saucepan, add the stock and bring to the boil, then reduce the heat and gently simmer for 35–40 minutes.
- Skim the oil and any bits from the surface. Strain well, discarding the cooked bones, return to the washed-out saucepan and skim again.
- Add the garlic, chilli, leek, onion and red pepper and bring to the boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for 15 minutes or until the vegetables are just cooked.
- Add the rice noodles and mushrooms and then simmer just until the noodles have softened – this will not take long, seconds probably. The ﬂavour will now be really developed and the liquid slightly reduced, so you may have to add a little water if the soup is getting too thick. Season well with salt and pepper.
- Slice the grouse breasts lengthways into thin strips, about 5mm wide, and cut the marrow into 2cm cubes.
- When ready to serve, reheat the soup. Drop in the lettuce and grouse and just warm – do not overcook.
- Finally, add the marrow and coriander and leave for 1 minute, then quickly serve in warm deep bowls.
Basic Game Stock
Having a good stock base will help the taste and ﬂavour of your dishes immeasurably. You can now buy stock cubes, powders, pouches and even jellied stock, and I think the best approach is to enhance a solid homemade stock base with a little of the shopbought variety so that you end up with a full-ﬂavoured and fullbodied stock. To me it’s all about body and depth, and the more you can help that along the better. This recipe calls for small carcasses such as pheasant, partridge, wild duck and small rabbits or hares, but if you want to use venison, wild boar, large geese and so on, I would advise cooking the stock for slightly longer, say 2 hours 30 minutes, as the bones are larger. The essential thing to remember is that the longer a cooked and strained stock is returned to the hob to cook down or reduce, the stronger its ﬂavour will be. A simply strained, unreduced stock is ideal for stews and braises, as you are going to intensify the ﬂavours further with added meats, seasonings and vegetables, whereas a stock reduced by simmering and skimming to about half its original volume is great for light sauces, adding to stir-fries and for broth and soup making. Stock fully reduced to 15–20 per cent of its original volume is for when you want to pack a punch with very little sauce. In this instance, you can add a dash of alcohol, a fruit liqueur or just a little ice-cold butter to bring out the shine and depth of a sauce. This is known in the business as a glace.
MAKES ABOUT 1 LITRE
Preparation: 15 mins
Cooking: 1 hour 45 mins
1 tablespoon any oil, or fat from the pheasant carcasses
8 pheasant carcasses, or those of other small game – see right, chopped into chunks
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
250ml medium white wine
1 tablespoon tomato purée
1 tablespoon sugar
2 litres cold water, well-ﬂavoured chicken stock or 2 x 10g good-quality chicken stock cubes dissolved in 2 litres hot water
4 carrots, peeled and chopped
3 onions, chopped
1 large leek, split and washed well
6 celery sticks, chopped
1 whole head of garlic, sliced horizontally in half
3 sprigs of fresh thyme
3 bay leaves
1 teaspoon black peppercorns
1 teaspoon crushed juniper berries
- Heat the oil or render the fat in a large saucepan. Add the chunks of carcass and brown well on all sides. This will add colour and ﬂavour to the stock.
- Add the vinegar, white wine, tomato purée and sugar, bring to the boil and cook until the liquid has almost completely evaporated. Stir well, scraping up any of the bits stuck to the base of the pan.
- Pour over the water or stock, add all the vegetables and garlic and bring to the boil, then reduce to a simmer and cook for 10 minutes.
- Skim well and add the herbs, peppercorns and juniper. Simmer for a further 1 hour 20 minutes.
- Strain the stock and use accordingly.
Taken from Game by Phil Vickery and Simon Boddy
Published by Kyle Books
Photography by Peter Cassidy
Here are two more delicious game recipes from Phil Vickery’s latest book: