My father, Christo, was a sportsman in the truest sense of the word and an excellent game cook. He trained me from an early age to clean, process and cook all game I killed. I learned the hard way after showing Dad six songbirds and starlings I shot with my BB gun. None were very palatable.
Game birds and waterfowl, however, are delicious when cleaned, cooked and served appropriately. Here is a fabulous recipe, which works well for upland birds and waterfowl. I often mix several species of each, such as the light meat from pheasants and Hungarian partridge with the dark meat from sharptail grouse and waterfowl.
• 4-8 game birds, breasted and parted. Use thighs (devoid of tendons and excellent for the table) but remove drumsticks, except for ducks. If using only woodcock and quail, double the count.
• 1/2-2 teaspoons of Italian seasoning or oregano
• Salt and pepper to taste
• 2-6 tablespoons olive oil
• 1/2 stick butter
• 1-3 garlic cloves, minced
• 1/2-1 lb. fresh mushrooms, sliced
• 1-3 onions (I like red and white combined), sliced thin or chopped
• 1-4 Roma or other tomatoes, chunked
• 1/4-1/2 cup red wine
• Sprinkle meat with Italian seasoning or oregano, salt and pepper.
• Heat 1-3 tablespoons olive oil in pan until spitting hot. Sear both sides of seasoned meat no more than 2 minutes per side. Remove seared meat and set aside.
• Clean pan and turn heat to a medium/low setting. Once hot, add remaining olive oil, butter and garlic to pan. Stir for 1-2 minutes, being careful not to burn.
• Add onions and mushrooms, and sprinkle with Italian seasoning or mixture of salt, pepper and oregano. Sauté for 6 minutes.
• Add tomatoes, red wine and seared meat. Sauté for 5 minutes. Do not cover pan, as meat will steam and become dry.
• Serve over pasta with Parmesan cheese, a crisp, fresh salad and a dark wine of your choice. If there are leftovers, this dish may be even better when reheated and served the next day.