Cover the birds with vine leaves if you can get them. This is not necessary, so don’t worry if you can’t find any (I couldn’t). Next, cover the birds in jackets made of either bacon rashers or a sheet of pork back fat.
I went with bacon here as it could be served up alongside the grouse.
Roast for 35-45 minutes and allow to rest under some foil for around 20 minutes.
You can serve whatever you like with the grouse, but it is typically eaten with the typical game accompaniments like bread sauce, game chips and a tart jelly such as rowanberry. I went with some mashed potato and a couple of veg, myself.
A salmi, also known as salmis, salomine and salomene is essentially a posh game stew and is an abbreviation of salmagundi which started life in France as a meat ragoût. A salmi, rather than being any meat, should be made using game birds that are partly-cooked, and then finished off in a rich sauce made from their bones, though domesticated birds like capon and Guinea fowl are commonly used. Jane Grigson complains that more often than not, salmi is made from leftover game meat and then offered at high prices in high-end restaurants. ‘Don’t be deceived’, she says, ‘[i]t is exactly what would have been eaten by Chaucer, or his son, at the court of Henry IV, or by that granddaughter of his, Alice, Duchess of Suffolk, at her manor at Ewelme.’ Grigson mentions the food eaten at the court of Henry IV a few times in English Food: giving recipes for quince comfits and ‘a coronation doucet’.
Cubebs are a type of pepper (latin name: Piper cubeba) that you can still buy from specialists, gilliflowers are a very fragrant species of carnation and ‘powder’ refers to a mixture of ground spices.
Roast your game birds rare, cut the meat from the carcass into neat ‘gobbets’.
Use the carcasses to make ¾ pint of game stock. Melt 2 ounces of butter in a pan and cook 3 chopped shallots until soft and golden. Now stir in a heaped tablespoon of flour and whisk in the hot stock a third at a time to prevent lumps forming.
Add a bouquet garni and a pared strip of orange peel (Seville oranges would be great if you can get them) and simmer for 20 minutes, to make a thick sauce. Pass the sauce through a sieve and add ¼ pint of red or white wine and 4 ounces of mushrooms that have been fried in butter. Season with salt, pepper and lemon juice. Simmer for a further 5 minutes, then add the game and simmer very gently again for 10 more minutes. Add a little cayenne pepper. Serve with orange wedges and croûtons fried in butter.
And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying,
I have heard the murmurings of the children of Israel: speak unto them, saying, At even ye shall eat flesh, and in the morning ye shall be filled with bread; and ye shall know that I am the LORD your God.
And it came to pass, that at even the quails came up, and covered the camp: and in the morning the dew lay round about the host.
As you can see, eating quail has gone back a good few years. You don’t see them very much in the UK these days; I’ve perhaps seen them twice at Farmers’ Markets. The USA, however, is chock-full of tricky-to-find ingredients to help me with this blinking blog project.
Although classified as a game bird, quails are farmed these days as they’re not very common, and it is now illegal to kill them, so if you hear one chirping away in a nearby field, let it be.
People in the Middle Ages certainly did not let them be, because they loved them. Actually they ate everything it seems. Here’s a list I found of their favourite game: quail (natch), partridge, pheasant, hare, rabbit….ok thus far, all Grigson recipes, but then… rook, crow, raven, lark, sparrow, capercaillie, peacock, stork, heron, swan, crane and bittern. Phew! A certain Alfred Gottschalk says on the matter: ‘It is wonderful that the stomach of man can profit by all manner of birds, and yet there are some of them that even starving dogs would not eat.’ Quite.
Griggers doesn’t give that much detail on how to cook them, in fact this is the whole recipe: ‘…they can be browned in butter and braised with a little stock, port wine and orange peel.’
So that is exactly what I did. They were browned in a cast-iron casserole and covered in a quarter of a pint of chicken stock and a good slug of port, along with some salt and pepper and some pared orange peel and popped them in a 160°C (325°F) for 20 minutes. I then took them out to rest and used a beurre manie (i.e equal weights and butter and flour mashed together) to thicken it. I served it not with the usual game accoutrements (bread sauce, game chips etc), but mashed potatoes and some wilted spinach.
#289 Quail. One of the mildest of the game birds, pale-fleshed and light to eat. It’s difficult to keep these tiny moist so quick cooking is required. The port wine and orange gravy was delicious and didn’t overpower the birds. These smaller game are good, but I think I prefer the stronger birds like pheasant and pigeon. I did enjoy feeling all medieval having an entire animal sat on my plate, so just for that it was worth cooking them. 6.5/10.
I’d heard of jugged hare before and had always assumed that ‘jugging’ meant that some strange spices were added, but it simply means that it is cooked in the jug. The idea being that the hare can cook away in the jug that is, in turn, in a pan of simmering water. The way of cooking goes back to when people had to cook over their hearths. Jugged hare therefore has gone out of fashion because we make it into a casserole or stew (as in this recipe here) in the oven. I bought the hare from Shaw meats a few months ago and had had it stowed away in the freezer for quite a while, so it was perfect as the main course of my emptying-the-cupboards themed dinner party. Here’s how to jug a hare (or a large rabbit).
First joint your hare, and if you like lard it with some bacon fat or pork back fat. It is wise to do this if the hare is not a youngling. If any blood that drains off, keep it in a bowl (in fact, if you can get the butcher to keep the blood when hanging the hare, even better), rub the hare with salt, black pepper and Cayenne pepper and place the pieces in a large stoneware jug along with an onion that has been studded with three cloves, a bouquet garni (I used, parsley, bay, rosemary and pared lemon peel), and four ounces of butter. Cover with foil and tie securely and tightly with string. Place the jug in a roasting tin half-filled with boiling water, put it on the heat and bring to a simmer and then cook on the hob or in the oven for three hours.
When cooked, remove the pieces and allow them to rest while you make the gravy. Strain the juices (there will be a surprisingly large volume) in a sauce pan and add a quarter of a pint of red wine, a chopped anchovy and a pinch more of Cayenne pepper. Bring to a simmer and thicken: either with a beurre manié made from half an ounce of butter and a tablespoon of flour mashed together and added in knobs, or by adding the blood of the beast (don’t let the sauce boil though, otherwise it’ll will go like pink scrambled eggs). The blood I had reserved was only a small amount so I popped it in at the end. Lastly, add a squeeze of lemon juice. Griggers suggests serving it with fried bread, but I went with game chips (see here), forcemeat balls (see here) kale and ‘Carrots from 1599’ (see the next entry, when I get round to writing it).
This pic makes the hare look rather unappetising, but it did look good in real life!
#219 Jugged Hare. A really good hearty winter stew this, the hare was very well-flavoured and gamey and the gravy was really delicious – very dark and very rich. Although it was good, it wasn’t as good as the hare stew I did last winter, which had a much more complex flavour. Still, it deserves an above average 6.5/10.