What is the recipe for Balmoral Chicken

Recipe - grouse - a royal delicacy

Grouse - a royal delicacy

Grouse are rare delicacies. They are hunted with enthusiasm by the Scots - and the chef at Palace Gstaad -. But there are also cheaper alternatives.

Every PC gamer is familiar with grouse. But this is not about the shooting game. We are talking about the real Scottish grouse, or more precisely, the willow grouse from the pheasant-like family: Lagopus lagopus scoticus. These chickens, which spread from North America through Northern Europe to Asia, are particularly sought-after delicacies in Scotland.

The hunt for wild chickens in the Highlands traditionally begins on August 12th; "The glorious twelvth" is a social highlight of the hunting season. It is not just about an exclusive pastime for the nouveau riche lords of the castle. Hunting enthusiasts from the British aristocracy and top politicians also take part. It goes without saying that the royals also uphold the tradition of the “grouse hunt”.

From August onwards, Queen Elisabeth spends around twelve weeks on Balmoral each year. The property, once built as a hunting lodge, covers 240 square kilometers. Stately forests and areas with abundant hair and feathered game populations, a lake and even entire villages near the Cairngorms National Park belong to the Queen's personal property. Hunting invitations on Balmoral are definitely one of the most exclusive occasions on this planet.

But details about the pleasure that is frowned upon by animal rights activists are wisely kept under the lid. Only now and then get rumors that are eagerly received by the tabloids, for example that Prince Harry shot his first Balmoral stag at the tender age of twelve. Or that the five-year-old Prince George is taken along on the grouse hunt.

Exclusive invitation

One of the few Swiss who have ever been present on a grouse hunt in the Highlands is “Palace Gstaad” chef Franz Faeh. The well-traveled - he knows most of the world's countries - worked for many years as Executive Chef and Kitchen Director of the Regent and Four Seasons Group in Bangkok, Hong Kong, Singapore and Kuala Lumpur.

The Gstaad, who once started his career as an apprentice at the Palace, recalls: “Years ago I was invited by friends to Scotland to a property about an hour's drive north of Edinburgh. With a hunting party of twelve we went into the heather-like highlands overgrown with small bushes. There, after brief instructions, I shot around a dozen grouse with a double shotgun loader - a unique experience that I remember fondly.

I bought an additional 160 pieces, had the birds ready to cook and packed with dry ice in styrofoam boxes, put the whole cargo in several suitcases and made my way home by plane from Edinburgh via Amsterdam to Bangkok. At that time I was the head chef at the Bangkok Regent Hotel. My guests were amazed when I was able to offer them this rarity - some of which I shot myself. And this only two days after the opening of the hunt in Scotland. You have to know: the bosses of the Asian luxury hotels hold a small competition every year to see who will be the first to serve grouse. "

Grouse are expensive delicacies and not suitable for the everyday table of the average wage earner. You can pay up to 30 francs per item in specialized delicatessen stores, for example at Alfred von Escher in Zurich. A grouse weighs 600 to 700 grams "in its feathers", and when ready to cook it weighs only about half. At best, 150 to 200 grams of meat remain on the bone, meat that loses another 15 to 20 percent of its weight through the roasting process. One calculates.

Cheaper alternatives

What is an inexpensive replacement? Pheasant and partridge are much cheaper and available in comestibles from around 17 francs, the weight of the pheasants is around 1.5 kg, that of partridges around half (wild fowl is always traded per piece and not by weight).

Wild fowl was still widespread throughout Central Europe a hundred years ago and enriched the bourgeois table in autumn. But due to the disappearance of natural habitats, pheasants and partridges - which have always been given a place of honor in French cuisine - are mostly only available from breeding. Wild fowl is increasingly being kept in huge enclosures in France, Belgium and Great Britain.

If you want to get cheap exclusive enjoyment, you can look around in the delicatessen departments of the department stores (Globus, Jelmoli, Manor) or in supermarkets as well as specialty butchers and comestibles. In autumn and winter, whole guinea fowl or at least breasts with wing bones (“suprème”) are offered there.

These birds, which are also bred in France and are related to domestic fowls, are said to originally come from the Middle East. But be careful: there are big differences in quality in breeding guinea fowl. A good example is the French producer Miéral. In the “Les Dombes” area west of Geneva (Bresse) it has open-air enclosures so that the guinea fowl can feed themselves appropriately. You can even spend the night in the trees. The meat is correspondingly tasty and has a taste “almost like wild fowl,” says Alfred von Escher, who offers this exclusivity in the Zurich region. So shoot the right bird if you want to surprise your guests with a treat.

Grouse with boletus filling for four people


4 ready-to-cook grouse (approx. 300–350 g each). Alternatively, guinea fowl, pheasant or partridge can be used.
Salt, black pepper, freshly ground


- 100 g of onions

- 160 g white bread without rind

- 200 g porcini mushrooms, fresh

- 60 g butter

- Salt, black pepper, freshly ground

- 2 teaspoons of freshly chopped sage

- 1 egg, 1 yolk


- Toothpicks or kitchen thread

- vegetable oil for brushing

- 4 dl game fowl stock (or veal stock, available in stores)

- 300 g porcini mushrooms, fresh

- 20 g butter

- Salt, black pepper, freshly ground


- Wash the grouse inside and outside under cold running water, pat dry.

- For the filling, peel the onions and chop them very finely. Cut the white bread into cubes about 4 mm in size. Clean the porcini mushrooms and rub them with kitchen paper (rinse only heavily soiled specimens briefly). Cut the mushrooms into even cubes.

- Melt 40 g butter in a pan and lightly toast the bread cubes on all sides, turning them constantly. Transfer to a bowl and set aside until further use. Melt the remaining butter in the pan and sweat the onions in it until colorless. Stir in the porcini mushrooms and fry for 2 to 3 minutes. Season with salt, pepper and sage. Mix the contents of the pan with the bread cubes and let cool down a little. Stir in the egg and yolk and season the filling to taste.

- Salt and pepper the grouse inside and out. Spread the filling in the abdominal cavities, but do not fill the birds too tight, because the farce will expand a little while cooking. Seal the opening with a toothpick. Tie the legs together at the joint. Brush the grouse all over with oil. Place breast up in a fire-proof dish and roast in a preheated oven at 200 ° C for 30 minutes, brushing with the frying stock over and over again. Take the grouse out of the mold, remove the toothpick, keep the birds warm.

- Pour the game fowl stock into the roasting pan and simmer the roasting mixture while stirring. Reduce the sauce by a third, pass through a fine sieve and season to taste.

- Clean the porcini mushrooms for the side dish. Heat the butter in a pan and fry the mushrooms over a medium heat for 2 to 3 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.

- Halve the grouse and serve with the porcini mushrooms and the sauce on preheated plates. Serve the sauce separately. Side dish as desired: potato snow, potato wedges, dry rice.

Recipe from Franz W. Faeh, Hotel Palace, Gstaad.