I grew up in the woods, and I’m not ashamed to admit it. Never is that fact more apparent than when I discuss hunting with my city-dwelling friends. In reality, a lot of city folks, at least in Minnesota, grew up hunting too. We have some of the finest hunting grounds for white-tail deer, black bear, and my personal favorite: ruffed grouse. Although many know them as partridge, which they are not, the ruffed grouse are widespread across Minnesota. In fact, Minnesota has the densest population of ruffed grouse of any state.
- 5 grouse breasts
- fresh cracked pepper
- 10 strips bacon
- 1 cup onion, chopped
- 10 sprigs fresh thyme
- 1 cup white wine, dry not sweet
- 10 oz crimini mushrooms, cleaned and sliced
- 3 green onions, minced
- 4 small shallots, minced, save half for the garnish
- 1 cup heavy cream
- 2 tsp tomato paste
- 1 T whole grain mustard
Wild Ruffed Grouse Breast Wrapped with Bacon and Served with a Cream and Tomato Mushroom Sauce
- Get together the ingredients and wrap the grouse with bacon. Finding grouse may prove difficult, especially out of season. If you have access to squab, partridge, guinea fowl, poussin (game hen), or pigeon, they will work too. Use an unflavored but smoked bacon for the barding. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees and move an oven rack 2 rungs off the bottom.
- Heat up the oven and place the bacon-wrapped grouse in a pan. Chop up the onions and lay them in the bottom of a large, lightly oiled skillet or small roasting pan. Stuff two sprigs of thyme into each cavity after rubbing pepper thoroughly over the entire grouse. Then wrap the grouse with two pieces of bacon, tucking the ends underneath into the cavity, on top of the thyme.
- Roast the bacon-wrapped grouse at 400 degrees F. Put the barded grouse into the oven and close the door quickly so you don’t let too much heat out. Roast the birds for 15-20 minutes before you check the internal temperature, which should be right around 150-155 degrees F. Use a digital thermometer to check the internal temp near the center. Make sure it holds that temp for at least 5 minutes. That will ensure that any microorganisms are dead.
- Make the creamy mushroom sauce. Remove the grouse breasts to a plate to rest, covered. Use an oven mitt to place the pan on the burner, and heat it up over medium heat. Deglaze the pan with the wine, although your pan will most likely still have liquid in it. Then add the mushrooms and green onions to the onions, wine and other liquid already in the pan. Cook it down over medium heat until the mushrooms are cooked through. Then add the minced shallots, cream, tomato paste, and mustard. Reduce this, stirring often, until it’s thickened and sauce-like. Taste it and adjust the salt and pepper levels. The grouse will have rested for 10 minutes by now and will be ready to eat. Serve the creamy tomato mushroom sauce over the ruffed grouse.
Tips & Tricks
- The thyme in the cavity may not seem like it’s doing much, but it is making the entire oven smell of roasting thyme, which in turn is affecting the flavor of the meat. It’s an aromatic herb, after all. Also, it is leaving its flavor in the pan sauce, affecting the sauce and significantly improving it. Thyme + mushroom = awesome
- Don’t worry too much about 100 percent coverage of the grouse with the bacon. It’s doing its part even at partial coverage.