In terms of table fare, sage grouse get a pretty bad rap, but like most fowl sporting red meat, it’s all in how you cook them. Similar to waterfowl, sage grouse need to be cooked as rare as you dare. Medium-rare is best; medium starts to get a bit tough, but is still edible. Anything past that is liver-flavored boot leather, unless you Crock-Pot it in Cream of Mushroom soup.
Instead, I opted for a Thai-style marinade and skewered strips of breast meat. Admittedly, it did help that I was cooking young birds and not the big B-52s that some of the guys in our group shot last week. I also hit the breasts with a Jaccard tenderizer a few times before slicing them into strips. When grilling, try to suspend the meat over the fire to keep it from sticking to the grill. A couple of bricks work best to support the skewers as they roast over the hot, smoky fire. This marinade will also work with venison, waterfowl and other upland birds.
Thai-Style Sage Grouse
4 sage grouse breasts, skinned
1 cup coconut milk
2 Tbsp. soy sauce
2 Tbsp. brown sugar
2 tsp. fish sauce
½ cup cilantro, chopped
½ inch piece of ginger, peeled
1-2 tsp. Thai red curry paste
1. Rinse the grouse breasts and pat dry. Press both sides with a Jaccard tenderizer or beat lightly with a tenderizing mallet to achieve an even thickness of ¼ inch. Slice lengthwise into ½ to ¾-inch-wide strips.
2. Place the marinade ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth. Place the grouse strips into a bowl and pour marinade over the grouse. Stir to coat and refrigerate for 1-2 hours.
3. Remove the grouse breasts from the marinade and slide lengthwise onto skewers. Place two bricks over a hot fire or grill. Suspend skewers between the bricks, toss cherry or apple wood chips on the grill and close. Cook for 5 minutes with heavy smoke, then turn the skewers and cook another 5 to 7 minutes, or until grouse strips are cooked to medium rare. Serve over jasmine rice.