If you live in Colorado, you hunt, and it’s September, chances are (like myself) you have one thing on your mind. However, far too often dreams of finding herds of elk and screaming bulls with an OTC archery tag do not come to fruition. After days and miles in the backcountry seeing only other hunters and camps, and the only bugles being heard from those other hunters, that all too familiar feeling of frustration and disappointment sets in. Sometimes though, if you’re lucky, as you hike out from your hunt with your head hung low, the elk woods will gift you with one of its greatest consolation prizes… a dusky grouse. While this chicken-sized bird will not quite fill your freezer the way an elk would, it will provide 1 or 2 delicious meals, and possibly just the motivation you need to keep hunting.
Oil or Fat for frying
4 skinless, boneless Grouse breasts
Salt and Pepper
1/4 tsp ea Garlic Powder, Onion Powder, Rosemary, Sage, Thyme
2 Large Shallots (thinly sliced)
1c Cherry Tomatoes (halved lengthwise)
1c Game bird or Chicken Stock
1c Heavy Cream
On a plate, mix together the flour, garlic powder, onion powder, sage, rosemary and thyme. Using two peices of plastic wrap and a mallet or heavy pan, pound out each grouse breast to about 1/4 in thick. Season both sides with salt and pepper, then dredge thoroughly in the seasoned flour mix.
Heavily coat a cast iron skillet with your preferred oil or fat for frying and heat. This will be a pan fry, not a deep fry, so you just need the bottom of the pan covered. The oil is ready for frying when you put a pinch of your flour mix in and it bubbles right away. Over medium heat, pan fry the grouse breast til cooked through and golden brown (about 5 minutes per side). Set aside.
In the same pan, add the shallots and cook over medium heat til soft (about 5 minutes). Add the butter and cherry tomatoes and cook until the tomatoes just start to loosen from their skin (about 7-10 minutes). Deglaze the pan with sherry.
When that liquid almost cooks all the way off, add your stock and heavy cream. Season with salt and pepper. Simmer the sauce to thicken it a little, about 10-15 minutes. Add the grouse back into the pan and remove from heat. Serve or your favorite pasta, rice, or roasted veggies.