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31 responses to “Roast Grouse and Minnesota’s Glories”

  1. fishguy

    Hank, you are slowly turning me into a forager. I just hope I don’t forget to shoot the bird while looking for highbush cranberries. Great article, especially like the last pic!

  2. El

    Lovely post, and great sentiment: not all can be gotten in the Golden State, and indeed much is best outside of it. But then, I am biased.

    The only domestic bird that approximates the taste of grouse is the guinea, in my mind. Good tips on brining these gamey creatures: it is a bit of a pickle, timing it right and yet coming out with the breast not overdry. That pairing sounds delectable too: local tastes marrying local goodies.

    But a question, Hank: how in the world did you get those birds home with you? Did you freeze them first, or put them in a carry-on?

  3. Carolina Rig

    All birds cooked at home should look like that last pic!

    The first bird crop I ever investigated came from my first turkey. It’s crop was stuffed with moth’s, grasshopper’s, clover, and poison ivy. Looking back I guess I could have developed a meal around clover honey glazed roasted turkey, w/ choclate covered insects as dessert. But what to do with the poison ivy??? Needless to say the turkey got it’s revenge as I broke out in a rash the following day.

  4. Diana Foss

    What a lovely post. Thank you!

    I love the deep sense of place in this meal. While I would never live anywhere but California, I certainly don’t believe that the world needs to eat the same way that we do.

  5. Pete

    Good lord, Hank. That first image is so savory I don’t even need to read the post. You should be arrested by the salivary police.

  6. Laura Flowers

    Wow. I’m super jealous of your adventure and meal. This sounds like something I’d love to do!

    Everything looks amazing.


  7. Andrew

    Looks great, glad you had success in the Northwoods. I grew up in Minnesota (just south of Duluth), and spent many a fall hunting grouse, although for some reason everybody called them partridge even though we knew they weren’t.

    Your point is also well taken-there is bounty everywhere, but some places it takes a bit more work!

  8. adele

    I’m impressed. I never thought I’d want to visit Minnesota (despite all the time I’ve spent in New England, I don’t like cold weather), but this post is making me rethink my position!

  9. Chris

    Hank, I just want to thank you for posting that wonderful recipe for the sexiest mushroom soup ever (lo those many weeks ago). I finally got to make it tonight, with shiitakes, and considering the fact that half my audience doesn’t like mushrooms but everyone loved the soup, I count it as a success! Thanks again. Also, the grouse looks tasty.

  10. Jen

    Hank – brilliant idea about looking in the crop for inspiration. Simple. Whatever they’ve been feeding on will flavour the meat anyway, you are just finishing what the bird started.

    As a consumer of lots of wild meat, I’m grateful for the tip. Thanks.

  11. Nick

    Hank — you’ve referred now twice to your regrets for not picking the Birch polypore mushrooms. We have tons around our house and everything I’ve read has said they are inedible. Do you have evidence to the contrary?

  12. r.

    That certainly looks delicious. Time for breakfast. Perhaps a new venison sausage recipe may be in the works? Keep it up.

  13. Brady

    Good description on the difference between the leg and the breast. I’ve always thought the breast tasted like that of a farm raised phesant while the leg was definately better and reminded me of a very large, tender squirell.
    Can’t wait to try the sauce some of our wineberries next year!

  14. Holly Heyser

    I remarked during this dinner that I think duck is the only bird whose breast meat is equal to or better than its leg meat.

    That said, this was pretty damn good breast meat.

    Thanks, all, for the nice comments on the photos.

  15. BobWhite

    I’ve never seen a grouse look better on the table. A truly inspired dinner. Thank you!

  16. Brian Ramsey

    What a great web-site, I’m looking at this at about 7am and it’s already making me hungry, again, just after breakfast.

    The upper mid-west can be bleak in the fall & winter and the only way to survive it is to hunt, fish and cross-country ski. Northern Cali can also be pretty darn gray, too, with all that Tule fog along The 5-interstate, but world class duck hunting, though.

  17. Sarah

    My dad is bringing me 7 (!) grouse when they come over for Thanksgiving. Would a pre-salt work just as well as a brine for these birds? I’ve never had them before, and I don’t want to mess up one of my only chances to taste them! Thank you.

  18. Sarah

    Thanks Hank. Sadly, they don’t have the skin on. I’ll have to try something else. I have a few old British cookbooks that I think have some grouse recipes in them, perhaps I’ll look there.

  19. ZombieStomper

    You lost me at how you were “shocked” to find “such good food so far from my home in New York”. I know, I know, New Yorkers invented food and are always surprised to learn us primitives here in fly over land aren’t limited to eating boot leather sammiches & Top Ramen… but it gets so freaking old.

  20. Kevin

    For whatever reason, I only read this post now – and totally agree that the grouse and hb cranberries are non-substitutable if seeking the ‘terroir’ feel of the flavors. [I made a ‘paste’ from the berries this year when reducing a failed jelly to dense consistency. Highly recommended for its deep cherry notes and propensity to blend harmoniously with sauces. Loses some of the funk high tones, but still worth a go] Having long envied warmer climes and growing seasons, I’m now really feeling blessed by our own regional endowments.

  21. A Blog for Hunters, Anglers, Gardeners & Cooks « The EssentiaList

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  22. Ron Berg

    I like the skin on too and find that plucking is easiest when the grouse is still warm. I save the entire bird and often use the backs, legs and thighs to make a quick grouse stock by browning the grouse parts in butter and oil and simmering with some canned chicken broth for making a sauce to serve with the grouse.

    Here is a method I have been using for several years now, which has always resulted in a juicy bird. First I brine them, (for one grouse I use a mixture of 2 cups of water with 2 tablespoons of salt and 3 tablespoons of sugar whisked in until dissolved ) after rinsing and drying, I lay some sort of fat over the breast – butter, bacon, guanciale (my favorite), or thinly sliced pork fat – just my personal preference, then I roast them at 400 degrees for 20 minutes. The internal temperature will be around 145 to 150 degrees. Let them rest for 10-15 minutes after removing from oven. Even my bachelor neighbor who claims to cook as little as possible was able to roast a moist tender grouse with this recipe, plus a pan to roast it in. I loved your use of wild highbush cranberries with the grouse. Every once in a great while I run into them, but not often enough.

  23. Ben

    Your article/recipe recalls fond memories of derision aimed at my twin and hunting partner for hunting “swamp grouse” in thick swampy and highbush cranberry coverts. This sort of tangled struggle is beneath all virtuous grouse hunters of course. In defense of his miserable and shameful practice he drug me into one such hell hole suffering my constant skepticism. Having heard enough he directed me to a fully loaded cranberry bush and said that he guaranteed a flush if I would simply walk towards the bush. Scoffing the whole way I obliged and sure enough flushed half the wisconsin population of ruffs with nary a feather loosened. This story is annually recounted to me as you might imagine. I suppose I might swallow my pride and hunt more swamp grouse now that I know of the value the cranberry.

  24. Chris Mathan

    Fabulous recipe. I forgot to pick cranberries though the grouse I shot was feeding on them (White Mountains of northern NH). I didn’t even have any cranberry relish in the house but tried it with Stonewall Kitchen’s Hot Pepper Jelly which did not overwhelm the mild and sweet flavor of the bird. I have never tried roasting a grouse for fear it would be dried out. This as lovely…beautifully browned on the outside and perfectly moist on the inside!

  25. Flynn

    I usually cook grouse with a propane barbeque rotisserie. I use a basic oil-based rub (oil, salt, pepper, garlic, herbes de Provence) and cook on low (about 350 on the thermo) to an internal temperature of 150, then crisp the skin a bit on high, no more than 5 minutes. Let it rest, 10 minutes sounds about right. I have never tried brining, we usually can’t wait to eat the grouse, and start cooking the day of the hunt. But, maybe I should? Oh – and I love Pinot noir with grouse.

  26. Philip J. Eversman DDS

    Grouse feathers are great for tying flies and are hard to come by. If you get some skins, remove excess tissue and cover with borax. Store them in plastic boxes. They should be good after a few weeks. Your fly tier friends will love you for them.

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