Live! From Grouse House

Recipe, Travel

Hammond’s Butcher in Hawes

I’ve actually got a moment to myself up here in the Yorkshire Dales this year and thought I would write up a brief entry while I’m in the thick of it all.

Jack tucked in for the afternoon

It’s been quite a stretch here, cooking for the Lord of the Manner, a couple of royals, and a smattering of counts, viscounts, earls and the like.  I had one surprise vegetarian guest, a princess who doesn’t care for chilli – it doesn’t matter that the host requested it be served, and some of the worst flooding this area has seen in thirty years.  Through it all, I have my faithful kitchen companion, Jack, the dog.

This year is quite different up here because the twin butlers are gone.  In their place we have a new House Manager who is larger than life, but kind and reasonable – basically, he’s just normal.  While the twins did everything to keep me from seeing any part of this place that I didn’t work or sleep in, this year I’ve had the opportunity to actually go on a grouse shoot, visit some of the nearby towns and meet the people who send up all of our food deliveries. I’ve even escaped for a couple of meals out.

In the kitchen I was able to try a new grouse recipe.  Lord of the Manner saw this recipe in the Financial Times weekend magazine and asked if I would give it a shot.  Instead of serving guests an entire carcass with a little strand of red currants to try and pretty it up, I butchered all of the birds, wrapped the two breast pieces together with some pancetta and sautéed them and the legs in some butter.  From all of the carcasses I made a very pungent grouse stock and used that to flavor the barlotti beans (heavily seasoned with shallot, garlic and chilli) that the grouse pieces were served on top of.  Now, I doubt that many of you are going to run out and try this, but do remember the bean part when serving your next meal (I always forget about them and kick myself when I come across them on a menu somewhere and they’re absolutely delicious).  My picture here of the dish really doesn’t do it justice, but trust me it was a huge improvement on our previous grouse meals (in my humble opinion).

Below are pictures of some of my favorite dishes from the past ten days up here. I must run – there’s another meal to churn out!

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