Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Secrets of Preparing Dark-Meated Gamebirds

Seared Sharptail breast, steamed broccoli, and corn spoonbread.
I love hunting prairie birds in the early fall.  Chasing sharptails and prairie chickens for me and my buddies has become more than a way to pass the time until the pheasant and quail season start up -- it's a focal point of our fall campaign.

Fortunately, we usually have a freezer full of these dark meat birds at the end of the season.  I savor this exotic-tasting bird done just about any way, but like many folks, Mrs. Scampwalker isn't too hot on dark meat from wild birds.  But I've got a foolproof recipe that'll satisfy the most finicky of palates.

When I clean and package the birds, I fillet the breast into two medallions. I freeze the thighs, legs, and bones for a later date when I can combine them with other prairie bird hindquarters and simmer them into a rich stock for a gumbo.

With the breasts, I soak them in a simple marinade of 1 part soy sauce, two parts olive oil, a dash of Worcestershire sauce, a couple of crushed garlic cloves, a tablespoon of coarsely crushed dried rosemary, and black pepper to taste.

I turn up my Weber full blast until it's good and hot, and I sear the breasts -- a minute or less on each side -- until cooked medium rare.  After turning the meat, I baste the birds with a bit of Chatellier's Rare Game Sauce.

Chatellier's is hard to describe -- a unique mix of savory, sweet, and tangy.  But it does what all good sauces should do -- it enhances the taste of the meat instead of hiding it.  And it's equally good paired with venison, goose, woodcock, or red domestic meats as well.  It deserves a spot in every hunter's fridge.

Note: I received my jar of Chatellier's for free from the company.  But it's still darn good and I plan restock more once my freebie is gone -- which is soon.


  1. Never tasted Chatellier's before. You ever use it as a marinade or just baste with it?

  2. Frankly, I wouldn't marinade with it. It's thick, and it'd take a lot of sauce to really make it a marinade. Instead, I'd either use it as a baste or dipping sauce. It's actually damn good with onion rings, too!