The Glorious Twelfth is still one of the most significant moments in my kitchen calendar – one I look forward to all year round, writes Tom Kitchin

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The game we have access to here in Scotland is so outstanding, I always feel it’s my duty to share the passion I have for it, and hope that others can share in that enjoyment of cooking and eating wonderful Scottish grouse the moment it comes into season. This year, like every year since we opened our restaurant, The Kitchin, in 2006, I collected the birds, fresh from the first shoot via my trusted gamekeeper. The entire team – my brigade of chefs and our front of house staff – were on hand to help pluck, tie and prepare the birds for lunch service, getting them ready to be enjoyed by guests who can book up to a year in advance just to try the very first grouse of the season. People after my own heart! This week, I had some extra helpers lending a hand. Our two eldest boys, Kasper and Axel, visited the restaurant and were eager to assist. I think it’s so important that young people learn about where their food comes from and how it arrives on the plate. I appreciate that not everyone is lucky enough to get their hands on the first grouse of the season, but I always find when we bring our own kids, or children from local schools into the restaurant, their eyes light up when they get to see and try different foods. It’s a special moment and a great way to get them to try new things. The Glorious Twelfth always falls bang in the middle of the Edinburgh Festival, when both the restaurant and the city have an unbelievable buzz. Although it’s a very busy time, I often find I work best under severe pressure, especially when it comes to preparing grouse – my heart pounds with excitement getting the dishes ready to be enjoyed by a full restaurant of local diners and visitors to the city. Once you taste the first grouse of the season, you’ll never forget it. The experience is so unique and the bird is flavoured with the taste of nature itself – the heather from the hills and the fresh Scottish blueberries. I hope that you get the chance to share my passion and either taste or prepare grouse this season too. It’s a moment not to be missed.

Ingredients

  • FOR THE GROUSE
  • 2 grouse, prepared and wrapped in bacon
  • 1 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 50g celeriac, chopped into 1cm dice
  • 50g carrots, chopped into 1cm dice
  • 50g celery, chopped into 1cm dice
  • 10 baby onions
  • 2 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 1 tbsp brandy
  • 250ml chicken stock
  • sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • FOR THE ROASTED VEGETABLES
  • 2 beetroot, peeled and quartered
  • sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 4 Jerusalem artichokes
  • ½ lemon, juice only
  • 1kg pumpkin, peeled, seeds removed
  • olive oil, for frying
  • 50g hazelnuts, roughly chopped
  • 2 shallots, finely chopped
  • 1 tbsp chopped chives
  • 50ml hazelnut oil
  • 1 tsp sherry vinegar, or to taste
  • handful watercress sprigs

Method

For the grouse
1. Take the grouse out of the fridge so that they can come to room temperature before you start cooking, and preheat the oven to 200C/Gas Mark 6.
2. Heat the vegetable oil in a large, heavy-bottomed roasting tin. Season the grouse well, inside and out, then sear them in the tin until golden brown all over. Add the diced vegetables, baby onions and thyme sprigs to the tin.
3. Place the grouse on one breast and roast in the hot oven for 3-4 minutes. Flip the birds on to the other breast and roast for another three minutes.
4. Pour brandy into the cavity of both birds and place them on their back to finish roasting – another five minutes.
5. Remove the tin from the oven and leave the grouse to rest for 10 minutes out of the tin, breast upwards, so the juices are evenly distributed. Remove the vegetables with a slotted spoon for later use, and set aside the pan juices.
6. Put the roasting tin back on the heat on top of the stove and begin to reduce the cooking juices. Add the chicken stock, bring to the boil and let the sauce reduce and thicken. Take off the heat and pass through a fine sieve – keep warm until ready to serve.

For the roasted vegetables
1. Heat the oven to 180C/Gas Mark 4. Place the beetroot quarters into a saucepan and pour in enough water to cover. Add salt and bring to the boil. Simmer for 30 minutes or until the beetroot is nearly cooked. Drain and set aside.
2. Meanwhile, peel the Jerusalem artichokes, cut them in half and immerse in a bowl of cold water with the lemon juice added to stop them discolouring. Cut the pumpkin into thick slices. Heat a large non-stick ovenproof frying pan (or a cast-iron roasting pan) over a medium-high heat and add a drizzle of olive oil. Place the pumpkin and Jerusalem artichokes into the pan, season with salt and cook for 3-4 minutes, until they start to colour.
3. Transfer the whole pan to the oven and roast for 15 minutes. Cut the par-cooked beetroot into wedges, add to the pan and cook in the oven for a further five minutes.
4. Meanwhile, make the dressing. Combine the chopped hazelnuts, shallots, chives and hazelnut oil in a bowl. Add a splash of sherry vinegar and season with salt and pepper.

To serve
Once the grouse have rested, carve the legs and breast meat on to a plate and spoon over the pan juices. Serve the roasted vegetables alongside with the dressing and watercress on top.

About The Author

Tom Kitchin

Tom Kitchin is a Scottish chef and owner of restaurant The Kitchin, where he became the youngest winner of a Michelin star. He has previously worked with several Michelin starred chefs including Alain Ducasse and Pierre Koffmann.

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About The Author

Tom Kitchin

Tom Kitchin is a Scottish chef and owner of restaurant The Kitchin, where he became the youngest winner of a Michelin star. He has previously worked with several Michelin starred chefs including Alain Ducasse and Pierre Koffmann.