Henley Food Blog – Local and Seasonal: Roast Grouse, Beetroot and Kale Risotto

‘Dreich’ I think my Oban-born wife would call it, wet and gloomy, grey with not a hope the sun might break through to cast a warming cloak over the inevitability of autumn’s march.  As much as it saddens me to wave goodbye to those balmy summer days that we’ve all revelled in, there is something so thrilling about the change of season and with it the change of produce available. Being in a warm kitchen, producing foods to drive off the chill is one of lifes’ great contentments. We are a month or so into the game season and grouse are in their prime at the moment. I got mine from the fantastic team at Machins, all prepped and ready to roast. Today I am going to team them up with some of the sweetest beetroot I’ve ever encountered, and a purple kale with  intense flavours to complement and contrast. Both of these are now available from the heavenly Bosley Patch (in ‘The Shed’ or at Lovibonds on Fridays). Secretly I think I’ve been looking forward to the colder, darker months!!

I’ve adapted this recipe from a dish available at the fabulous King John Inn in Wiltshire.


(You can make the risotto on it’s own without the grouse, substituting soft goats cheese and using vegetable stock)



2 grouse (whole, we will be taking the breasts off later!)
150g pearl barley
2 medium size beetroots (roasted whole for 45 minutes and diced into small cubes)
2 shallots (finely diced)
1 clove garlic (crushed)
Glass white wine
75g grated Parmesan
150g butter
75ml red wine vinegar
A handful of blackberries
75g sugar
1 star anise
2 cloves
Handful of kale (I am using purple stemmed, but you can use any type or Cavolo Nero, if you choose)
75g girolles/chanterelles (cleaned)
600 ml chicken stock
2 bay leaves
Olive oil


  1. Pre-heat the oven to 200c. 
  2. In a large pan heat a tablespoon of olive oil. Fry the shallots and garlic until softened, don’t brown them
  3. Add the pearl barley to the pan and stir to coat with the oil and shallots.
  4. Add a glass of wine to the pan and let this bible away to almost nothing.
  5. Cover with chicken stock and cook until tender (approx 45 minutes). You can now leave this to cool. 
  6. For the pickling liquor place the sugar and vinegar in a pan add 75mls of water, the star anise & cloves. Bring to the boil then leave to cool.
  7. Cut the blackberries in half and add to the liquor, coating thoroughly.
  8. In a frying pan add a tablespoon of oil, heat on hihi and add the whole grouse. You want to brown these all over. Pay attention to them, don’t let them overcook or burn. 
  9. Place the browned grouse into the oven for 15 minutes.
  10. After the 15 minutes are up, take them out of the oven and allow them to rest in a warm place. 
  11. Return to your pear barley and cover with 75/100ml of stock. Heat through until the stock has been absorbed.
  12. Take the breasts off the grouse and keep warm.
  13. If you have time cut up the carcass and add to the pan you cooked the grouse in. Deglaxe with a little red wine and then pour in your stock. Reduce this to thicken.
  14. Add the beetroot, kale, parmesan and butter to the pearl barley. Mix well.  
  15. Remove the bones from your stock pan. 
  16. In a frying pan add a nob of butter. Let the butter foam before adding your chanterelles/girolles . Cook for 3/4 minutes
  17. Spoon your the risotto on to your plates. Lay your grouse breasts on top, add your blackberry (not the pickling liquor) and mushrooms.
  18. Finally spoon some of your reduced stock over the grouse, and finish off with a drizzle of olive oil.
  19. Phew! 

We couldn’t decide if you should drink a bold fruity wintry red with this to complement the seasons and colours, or an acidic white to counter the sweetness. I’ll let you resolve that one!