Upland Game Birds, Braised in a Dutch Oven

Upland game birds are both fun to hunt and cook!  Braising them in a Dutch oven creates an elegant presentation and a rich gravy without a lot of fuss.  I prefer to serve them on a pile of mashed potatoes seasoned with sauteed leeks or a bit of garlic and parsley.

Upland Game Birds, Braised in a Dutch Oven with a Wine, Mushrooms, and Shallot Sauce

  • 1.5 to 2 lbs. of upland game bird breasts and legs (~3 partridge, chukkar or grouse or ~5-6 quail or woodcock or ~2 pheasants) cleaned, and legs separated, dried well with a paper towel
  • 2 Tbsp. lard or bacon fat or clarified butter
  • 1 Tbsp. butter
  • 8 oz. mushrooms, sliced
  • 2 shallots, chopped
  • 1-2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • salt, pepper, poultry seasoning (optional) to taste
  • 1 Tbsp. flour
  • 1-2 Tbsp. brandy or cognac (optional)
  • 1 cup. chicken stock
  • 1 cup dry wine (or another cup of stock)
  • 1/2 cup parsley, chopped
  • In a Dutch oven over medium high heat, melt the 2 Tbsp. of lard.
  • Season the meat with salt pepper and a bit of poultry seasoning.
  • Brown the upland game bird pieces on all sides.
  • Remove birds to a plate.
  • Add the remaining 1 Tbsp. butter to the pan and add the sliced mushrooms and shallots.  Saute a few minutes.  Stir in the garlic. Sprinkle the flour over the veggies and stir to incorporate.
  • Add the brandy to the pan and stir to deglaze the pan, scraping up any browned bits on the bottom.  If not using brandy, just add some chicken stock to the pan to do this.
  • Slowly stir in the chicken stock and wine until well blended.  Stir in the chopped parsley.
  • Add the browned upland game birds back to the Dutch oven pan and gently stir to combine. Put the breast pieces, meat side down.  Cover the pan.

    Breast pieces not yet turned down into liquid to stay moist.

  • Place the Dutch oven in an oven preheated to 325°F.
  • Cook for about 1.5 to 2 hours until the meat is tender, making sure the liquid stays at least 1 inch deep in the pan (add more stock if necessary).
  • Place the Dutch oven on a stove burner, remove the lid, and bring sauce to a gentle boil/simmer to thicken the sauce.
  • Serve the game birds on a bed of mashed potatoes or on rice pilaf.

based on 1.5lb ruffed grouse meat

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