Grouse Poppers with Dates
While you might get away with throwing pheasants in the back of a truck and hunting all day, I’ve found that dark-meat game birds, such as sharptails and prairie chickens, don’t fare well in warm temperatures. The dark flesh can take on that dreaded, pungent flavor of “liver” quickly. To avoid this pitfall, travel with a cooler filled with ice. Use a clean trash bag as barrier between the birds and melting ice water. As soon as you can, place them in a refrigerator until you’re ready to clean them.
I typically process shot up birds immediately by breasting them out and removing the legs. For birds I plan to pluck, I age them in a refrigerator set at about 35 degrees for around three days to allow the muscles to relax and tenderize, and the skin to dry out and toughen for easier plucking.
For this issue’s grouse recipe, I chose to make poppers—perhaps the most recognizable of all wild game dishes. Although I can’t say that poppers are my go-to method to prepare wild game, I do recognize the draw. Poppers are an easy way to turn heavily shot-up game bird breasts into tasty, crowd-pleasing morsels. Game meat also tastes stronger at bruised areas, and the bold flavors in a popper does well at tempering it.
A few cooking notes: To avoid overcooking the grouse, choose a thinner cut of bacon. The thicker the bacon, the longer it will take to render and cook. I also allow the bacon to sit at room temperature to warm up, while keeping the grouse chilled for as long as I can before assembling the poppers.
Find this recipe on Gun Dog: https://www.gundogmag.com/editorial/grouse-poppers-dates-recipe/395579