August 12—also called “The Glorious Twelfth” in Great Britain—was the official start of red grouse season in the UK. Though I didn’t know it at the time, while armies of tweed-clad ladies and gents were walking about glens and moorlands toting shotguns, I was in the midst of smoking ruffed grouse breast right here in the good ol’ USA.
Ruffed grouse is a prized and rare pantry item for me. Since I hadn’t smoked grouse before, I reached out to a Scottish rural business that specializes in small-batch wild venison and upland bird charcuterie for some advice. Anja and Jan Jacob of Great Glen Charcuterie not only offered some tips for how they go about smoking their birds, but also shared an easy recipe for crostini that would allow me to maximize sharing of the bird as a starter plate.
Red grouse meat is dark with a rich, red flesh and an intense flavor. My ruffed grouse is light and delicate. Yet, with a few minor modifications, this recipe was right on target.
Thinly sliced smoked grouse breast (directions here)
Loaf of crusty bread
Softened goat cheese
Baby arugula or baby kale leaves
1 tablespoon of pecans
1/2 pint blackberries
2 Tablespoons fresh orange juice
Cracked salt and pepper
1. Slice the bread and toast or grill on both sides to achieve a nice crunch.
2. Lightly toast the pecans and crush.
3. In a small pan, over medium heat, combine blackberries (set aside a few for garnish) and orange juice. Simmer until berries are soft.
4. Pour mixture into a small strainer or sieve, and push through to remove seeds.
5. Whisk cooled juice with a bit of olive oil, salt, and pepper to make the sauce.
6. Take the crostini, spread with goat cheese, add some arugula or kale, lay on a few slices of smoked grouse breast meat, drizzle on the blackberry sauce, and garnish with crushed pecans.