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Roasted Ruffled Grouse a la Window

Written By Culinary Pen on Sunday, April 19, 2015 | 2:17:00 PM

Ruffled Grouse
At first I thought someone threw a rock at my window.  The sound of shattering glass was the last thing I expected at 10 in the morning...well I wouldn't have been expecting it any hour of the day, honestly.  Turning towards the sound, I saw my kitchen window was completely shattered.  A textbook size gap was missing from the center, with a spidery web of cracks spiking out from the center.  Soon larger sections of glass began dropping off, spreading the hole.

Looking out the window, I didn't see a rock, but a large ruffled grouse laying still on the ground.  Walking outside, I noticed the grouse had only broken the outer pane of the double-walled window.  I picked up the grouse, which was now dead, and carried it up to an old wooden carport on the side of our rental property.

Holding the grouse, I couldn't help but think of how beautiful it looked.  It really did have a mane of feathers around its neck.  Online I saw how impressive they looked when the feathers were completely puffed out and "ruffled" in display.

The grouse's spine was shattered right between the shoulders from the impact.  I knew I would cook and eat the bird; not only is it a famous game bird for eating, there seemed to be something wrong about just throwing it to the crows.

Cleaning the grouse, no blood came out.  When I finished plucking the bird, I eviscerated it and found most of the blood had been lost to internal hemorrhaging, along with both sides of the rib cage being broken.
Dressed, the grouse was just over two pounds
Classically, grouse is known for being a strong tasting and smelling bird.  I didn't encounter any smell, but perhaps the stronger smell is restricted to the more famously documented Red, or Scottish, grouse species.
I let the bird rest in a mild brine overnight to season the dense meat and let the muscles pass out of rigor mortis.  The next evening, I brought out the grouse to cook for dinner.  Sticking with the classic preparation, I rubbed the grouse with butter, thyme, salt and juniper berries, then roasted it under a few slices of bacon.
When the grouse was cooked, I made a sauce of the pan drippings, bacon, sherry, and thickened the sauce with the grouse's mashed liver and a flour roux.  Aside from the leg meat, there wasn't much of a "gamey" flavor to the grouse.  Even the gaminess of the legs was milder than I expected.  It's hard to describe the taste of the meat, which was milder than expected, but very flavorful.  It wasn't gamey, liverish, or beefy, but just had a wonderful savory flavor, like the taste of poultry to the second power.

While a peculiar turn of events, this certainly made for an interesting day.


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Anonymous said...

Excellent account of a ruffled grouse hitting your window. Can't wait to read the sequel about the prowling black bear in the neighborhood hurtling through the door. But you'll need a bigger pan.