Here is a great recipe for the opening of ruffed grouse season when cherry tomatoes are still ripe on the vine and super sweet. Braising makes the whole bird very tender and the meat falls away from the bone. You’ll want to serve this with some crusty bread and/or mashed potatoes to sop up the sauce. As with all game birds be careful of shot and small bones when eating.
Braised Grouse with Shallots and Cherry Tomatoes
- 2 cleaned, whole grouse split in half or butterflied/spatchcocked and legs removed (skin off or on)
- 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 1 tsp kosher salt
- 1 tsp black pepper
- ½ tsp poultry seasoning (optional)
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 10 medium shallots, peeled and cut in half
- 2 cups dry white wine or 1 cup white wine and 1 cup chicken stock
- 2 tablespoons Dijon-style mustard
- ½ tsp herbs de Provence or Italian herb blend or a few sprigs fresh thyme, tarragon and/or sage
- 2 cups cherry tomatoes, halved, or left whole
Check the grouse meat for any pellets or stray feathers. To butterfly or “spatchcock”a grouse, place it back side facing up on a cutting board. Using poultry shears, cut closely along one side of the backbone and repeat on the other side; discard backbone. Turn breast side up. Open the bird so the drumsticks point out. Press the breastbone firmly to flatten.
Melt the butter in a large, heavy-bottomed pot or skillet set over medium-high heat. When the butter foams, cook the grouse, in batches if necessary, until well browned and crisp on all sides. Remove from pan and set aside.
Add the shallots to the pan and sauté them in the butter until they begin to soften and caramelize, about 10 minutes. Add the wine/stock to deglaze the pan, stirring to scrape up any browned bits, then stir in the mustard and herbs. Add the grouse pieces back in. Cover the braising pan. Turn the heat to low and simmer for an hour or place pan in a preheated oven set at 350° F for an hour. Remove the lid, and allow the sauce to reduce and thicken over medium heat on the stove-top, about 10-15 minutes. If not much sauce, add ½ cup of chicken broth. Add the cherry tomatoes to the pan, stir lightly to combine. Serve with mashed potatoes and/or crusty bread to sop up the delicious sauce.