Grouse, quail, partridge and other game birds are extremely tasty morsels that need to be cooked properly to maintain moisture. Accenting flavors with things that the birds would forage on is natural. Jelly made from wild berries is a fantastic way to add moisture to birds when cooking, and herbs add just enough flavor to make you want to cook more.
A Texas Crutch is often used when cooking venison, where broth is added to a foil vessel to braise or simmer the meat. This recipe uses jelly, to becomes a sweet liquid when heated, adding moisture and flavor to your birds.
• 2 grouse or partridge, whole, skinned or plucked • 2 heaping Tbsp sour cherry jelly (grape, raspberry, gooseberry, or similar jelly will work) • 2 Tbsp fresh basil, finely chopped • 2 Tbsp fresh flat-leaf parsley, finely chopped • 1 Tbsp fresh dill, finely chopped
• 1 gallon cold water • ¼ cup coarse salt • ¼ cup brown sugar
*I often use the Hi Mountain Jerky Gourmet Gamebird Brine. It is easy to use for upland game birds or waterfowl.
Mix your brine in a sealable container you can store in your fridge or cooler.
Place whole birds in the brine, and leave overnight.
To prepare birds for the grill, remove from brine and rinse thoroughly. Pat dry, and season with salt and pepper.
Smoke and cook birds on a low temperature to add flavor. I use a Camp Chef Smoke Pro, but you can use any smoker where you can control the heat. A regular barbecue will work, and to cook slower try using just one burner on one side, and place the grouse on the other side. The slower you cook the birds, the moister they will stay.
Using a meat thermometer, take birds off when they hit 140 °F. Prepare a sheet of foil large enough to wrap the two birds, and spread jelly evenly over the center of the foil, and top with fresh herbs. Place birds breast side down on jelly and seal the foil so no moisture can escape, and put them back on the grill. Turn up the grill to 300°F and let the birds cook another 15-20 minutes. The jelly will liquefy under heat and braise the meat to a finished temperate. The process is like using a “Texas crutch,” which is adding broth to tented meat.
Remove birds from heat and let stand in the foil for 10 minutes. Take the birds from the foil, and drizzle with any remaining jelly/herb mixture.