Monday, September 27, 2010

Ruffed Grouse opens Oct 1!

Ruffed grouse season opens October 1st in Seneca County, and is already open in northern New York (i.e. Tug Hill and ADK's). According to NY DEC information on grouse hunting, "Each fall in New York about 75,000 hunters take to the field in pursuit of ruffed grouse making them the second most popular game bird behind wild turkeys. Despite declines in their numbers over the past 40 years, ruffed grouse are still common, particularly in younger forests, and provide excellent hunting opportunities." Grouse hunters are encouraged to participate in a Cooperator Ruffed Grouse Hunting Log and Ruffed Grouse Drumming Survey, both conducted through DEC, to help monitor grouse populations in the state. The Ruffed Grouse Society also has a wealth of information on the species.

Ruffed grouse have been called "Wild Chicken of the Adirondacks" or "road chicken" and indeed you can substitute wild caught grouse in most chicken recipes. Grouse roasts nicely and can also be sauteed (think Grouse Marsala). Keep in mind that grouse has less fat than domesticated chicken and is smaller, so cooking time may vary from a chicken recipe. Chicken recipes that cook with liquid (braising or sauces) are often a good way to cook grouse to insure moistness. The following recipe brings out all of the delicious flavor of grouse...

Braised Grouse with Bacon and Sage
4 boneless, skinless grouse breast halves
8 slices bacon
1 cup chicken broth
1 cup white wine
1/2 cup chopped shallot (or 1/4 cup red onion)
4 cloves chopped garlic
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 Tablespoon chopped sage
ground black or white pepper to taste
3 Tablespoons flour

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. In a large, oven-proof skillet (i.e cast iron fry pan) fry the bacon until almost crisp but not overly browned, over medium-high heat. Remove bacon and set aside. Leave 1-2 Tablespoons of the bacon drippings in the pan and discard the rest. Place the grouse breasts in the pan and brown them quickly, about 2 minutes per side. Remove the grouse from the skillet and wrap each grouse breast with 2 pieces of bacon, securing them with a toothpick if necessary. Add the remaining ingredients to the pan and scrape up any bits off the bottom of the skillet with a wooden utensil. Remove from heat and add the grouse back to the pan. Place the oven-proof skillet in the preheated oven and roast uncovered for 45 minutes. When done, remove the grouse from the pan and keep warm on a separate plate loosely covered with aluminum foil. Put the skillet on a burner over medium heat and whisk the flour into the pan juices, stirring constantly until thickened. Serve the pan gravy over the grouse breasts. This dish tastes excellent over wild rice. Serves 4.

If you have favorite grouse recipes of your own, please share them by posting a comment!

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