Upland bird season is taking off soon, and now is the perfect time to experiment with tasty recipes. Rather than dressing the birds and stashing them in the freezer, cook them now while they are fresh. Then again, if you’re cleaning out the freezer from last season, those birds will work with these recipes too. From quail to pheasant, chukar to grouse, the recipes below are sure to impart unique flavors you can’t help but enjoy. There’s no end to creative ways to prepare game birds; it just takes a little imagination and an open mind.
LEMON PEPPER PACKETS
This is an easy way to prepare one or several game birds. Packets can be assembled up to one day ahead. This recipe also works well when using only breasts or only legs and thigh pieces.
One pheasant or two chukars, dressed
¼ onion, chopped
½ stalk celery
One lemon, sliced
1 teaspoon lemon pepper
Three slices bacon
2 tablespoons white wine
Salt to taste
Place dressed bird on a square of aluminum foil, breast side up. Fill body cavity with onion, celery and lemon. Sprinkle lemon pepper and salt over bird. Lay strips of bacon over the breast, tucking extra underneath. Close packet and leave a small opening at the top. Pour in wine and seal foil closed. Bake in a preheated 350-degree oven or medium-hot grill, 30 to 45 minutes or until bird reaches 160 to 165 degrees.
Open packets to brown bacon during last five minutes of cooking time. To make a complementary sauce, bring pan drippings to a boil in a small saucepan. In a separate bowl, mix 1 teaspoon cornstarch with 1 tablespoon of cold water, mix well and add to sauce. Cook one to two minutes on medium heat, adding additional liquid (chicken broth or white wine) to reach desired consistency.
JALAPEÑO QUAIL BITES
Whether fried, broiled or grilled, these tasty bites are irresistible. These can be made for a few people or large crowds – it depends on how much quail you have. For four “bites” you will need:
Four quail breasts, or two grouse breasts (chunked)
2 tablespoons cream cheese
One large jalapeño pepper
Four slices thin bacon
Rinse each breast and pat dry. Cut jalapeño into fourths. Place half tablespoon cream cheese on jalapeño, top with quail breast or chunked grouse. Carefully wrap bacon around each piece of meat and pepper. Secure with a toothpick if needed. Fry, broil or grill until bacon is crisp. Serve alone or place on a bed of lettuce.
Editor’s note: For signed copies of Tiffany Haugen’s popular cookbook, Cooking Game Birds, send a check for $20.00 (free S&H) to Haugen Enterprises, P.O. Box 275, Walterville, OR 97489 or order online at scotthaugen.com. Tiffany Haugen is a full-time author and part of the new online series, Cook With Cabela’s. Watch for her on The Sporting Chef, on the Sportsman Channel and follow her on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter.
Story and Photo By Tiffany Haugen