A Quick Recipe for Smoked Ruffed Grouse Breast

grouse and bacon
Grouse breast wrapped in bacon and rosemary Krissie Mason

Unlike many wild game cooks, I am behind the times when it comes to smoking meats. Mostly because I thought only a wood log burning, welded steel behemoth from Texas could produce the slobbery delicious results that would satisfy a discerning smoked meat eater. I also assumed it was going to be difficult. As many of you will attest, I was wrong on both points. Regardless, it was time for me to venture into smoked charcuterie. And though I lack longevity, it has done nothing to curb my enthusiasm, or the recipes that have resulted.

krissie mason
Ruffed grouse breast on the chopping block. Krissie Mason

As I have limited garage space, would be working with sub-primal cuts of meat, or game birds, and have a small family, I needed something that was portable, easy to use, and yet deliver excellent results. After asking a few guys who are very good at harvesting game and producing smoked meats on a variety of smokers, and doing some reading, I found myself with a Bradley 4 Rack Digital Smoker. Its got plenty of features that have turned me into a chain smoker: ease of use, built-in temperature set, digital smoke and temperature timers, smaller footprint, variety of wood pucks, and most importantly the succulent, moist, smoky depth of meat I have been able to produce with it.

smoking meat
Smoked grouse, in the works. Krissie Mason

Most recently, I experimented with a couple of ruffed grouse breasts given to me by my friend JJ Reich of Vista Outdoors. Far and away this has been my favorite smoked charcuterie so far. It turned out great: delicate, moist, and tender with a flavorful soft maple smoke. Eat it right off the smoker, or reserve for other recipes (like this crostini recipe).

For each breast you’ll need:

1 teaspoon Morton’s Tender Quick Curing Salt
1 thick cut slice of streaky bacon
2 sprigs fresh rosemary

curing salt grouse
Curing salt Krissie Mason

1. Sprinkle each breast and underside with the curing salt and massage into the meat for about 30 seconds.
2. Wrap the breasts tightly in plastic wrap, or vacuum seal. Allow it to cure for 2-4 hours.
3. Rinse and dry the breast. Lay the two sprigs of rosemary on the breast and wrap with bacon.

Saran-wrapped grouse breast Krissie Mason

4. Place into a smoking smoker that is preheated to 220 degrees.
5. Cook for approximately 45-60 minutes depending on heat regulation.
6. Remove and cover with foil for 10 minutes.