This recipe for Chukar with Cabbage and Chestnuts is a wonderful game bird recipe because it can be interchanged with any other game bird meat of choice, or even domestic bird meat if you’d like. Chukar is a lighter game bird meat, similar to pheasant or chicken breast. This recipe also works well with grouse. Grouse meat is dark red with a rich game flavor. Ruffed grouse have the strongest game flavor, which in my opinion is wonderful.
Chukar with Cabbage and Chestnuts:
More than any other game bird, grouse need to be kept moist while cooking. This is best done with the help of goose fat and bacon. The French always viewed grouse legs as bitter and I notice that many people still use them solely for stock or gravy. The meat of the older birds can be tough and all of it will dry out easily if you are not careful, but give the young ones a chance and try them whole sometime.
I always love to celebrate the ingredients of the season for game bird hunting–the autumn months bring on chestnuts, and winter vegetables that store and preserve. This tangy cabbage is a good example of how making your own sauerkraut can come in handy and pair well with your cold weather recipes.
Because game birds are so lean and are “athletes” in how freely they roam, you’ll need to combat the lack of fat by adding it back. I recommend some fatty bacon, lard or goose fat. Or all of it! The acidity of the cabbage cuts through the fat around the meat, and the chestnuts add a wonderful sweetness and texture. I think you will love it.
What’s your favorite game bird recipe? Share with me in the comments or on Instagram and Facebook. You can also browse my other wild game recipes here!
Chukar with Cabbage and Chestnuts
- 4 grouse or chukar whole and skin on
- Salt and pepper
- Juice of 1 lemon
- 4 tablespoons goose fat or butter
- 8 to 12 slices bacon
- 1 medium-size red or white cabbage sliced thinly
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- 1 cup apple cider
- 1 cup roasted chestnuts
- Rinse and dry the birds thoroughly and season them with salt, pepper, and lemon juice inside and out.
- Melt the goose fat in a large skillet and brown the birds slowly on all sides.
- Remove the birds from the skillet. Wrap each in a few slices of bacon and secure with a toothpick or kitchen twine. Set aside on a plate.
- Add the cabbage to the skillet containing the remaining fat. Sprinkle the cabbage with sugar and salt and let it brown slightly. Deglaze with the cider.
- Lay the birds back in, breast side down. Cover tightly and simmer slowly over low heat for 45 minutes.
- During the last 15 minutes of cooking, turn the birds breast side up and add the diced chestnuts.
- Let rest, covered in tinfoil, for 10 minutes before serving. Serve the birds whole on a bed of stewed cabbage.