Disclaimer: This was my first time making Risotto from scratch, so think of this as less a recipe, and more a journey in co-learning to cook something fun and tasty for people you love.
Fall is the best time to cook, hands down. The gardens are giving and it's harvest season. Through it all, a grouse feast is hard to top.
Before you get into the whole cooking the Risotto part, you really should harvest as many grouse as you can/want for this dish. I managed to get six on the weekend I cooked this recipe and all of them went to this project.
In your pursuit for grouse, we recommend taking a fine working dog with you afield. Not only will your time in the woods be spent being distracted by whether your dog is pointing or not, but you'll have some help finding your dinner and share in few victories.
After downing a few birds, clean them up and remove the breasts. Keep the legs and any bones you can for making stock. I ended up using this grouse stock right in the risotto recipe.
For grouse stock, simmer grouse bones and legs, onion, carrots, celery, bay leaf and any herbs (I used thyme for the fall but would be equally happy with some dill) for at least 45 minutes. As the stock simmers, scrape off any film that persists and add salt to taste. I'm not going to tell you how much of everything to add, because you'll figure it out.
I also won't lie about this whole risotto recipe. I adapted this version from Ricardo Cuisine. A few notes on adaptations:
- I doubled the recipe to feed more than four.
- I didn't have any truffle oil, so I substituted some saffron I had sitting around. Most people also don't have saffron just lying around, so I would consider adding a bit of olive oil and a herb like thyme or some orange peel zest to add depth.
- I did add thyme because I love thyme.
- I added garlic because only psychopaths cook without garlic.
- If you can, I would use morels or chantarelles in this recipe, instead of your standard store bought mushrooms
- I seared the breasts separately and baked them in their own stock, shallots, garlic and cream sauce. Going forward, I would probably dice the breasts and cook them first and then add the mushrooms to the main risotto mix.
- I was going to get a cheap white to add to the recipe but then remembered that the wine will cook down and actually intensify the flavours. It also makes for better drinking at the table anyways, so don't cheap out here. I got this bottle of Don David from Lockport Grocery and was not disappointed.
Use the above points and some of your own intuition to work through the stock recipe above. Overall this was a fun and rather easy recipe to put together. Just be sure to take it slow when adding the broth to the rice mixture at the end and stir regularly.
Finish with some parsley and parmesan and try not leave any wine on the table.