Wild fowl offer the most varied and perhaps the most delicious wild meat.
Ranging from the rich, tangy flavor of the miniature woodcock up to a
magnificent wild turkey or Canada goose, they provide a range of flavor delicacy
as wide as the variation of the sport in hunting for them. The quality and
flavor of game birds, however, depends to a very large extent, on the care they
receive after the hunter has bagged them.
The simple rules to follow are these: The birds should be drawn soon after
they have been shot. The body heat should be allowed to cool as quickly as
possible. The birds should be kept cool or at cold temperatures until they are
to be cooked. Game birds should be bled, cleaned and cooled quickly after
shooting. And as you clean them, be sure to remove the oil sacs at the base of
the back near the tail. Also be sure to carry a portable ice chest to speed
cooling and to protect the birds from spoilage during the trip home.
When testing game birds to determine those which are young and tender, the
stiffness of the bill is usually significant. If pheasants and grouse, for
example, can be lifted by the lower jaw and nothing breaks, they are mature
birds. They will not be as tender and will require more cooking than the
younger, less developed.
Game birds should be skinned if only the breast will be used or if they are
tough and will be used in stews or casseroles. Otherwise, the birds should be
plucked. This helps keep the meat more moist and tender.
Be sure you remove any shot pellets and cut away any badly shot up areas. Cut
off the wings and feet of small birds with shears. Then, cut small birds up the
backbone, remove the lungs, wash and drain.
Cut larger birds into pieces, the same as you would a chicken. You'll also
find the livers from medium and large-sized birds are big enough to save and
will taste very similar to chicken livers.
Hint: Freezing a bird for a week or two will help tenderize
When preparing game birds, you can cook young birds by broiling, roasting, or
in any of your other favorite recipes. But older birds should be stewed or
braised to tenderize them. Or if you wish, you can try a commercial tenderizer.
Just sprinkle the tenderizer in the body cavity of the bird and let the bird
stand in the refrigerator. The amount of time the bird needs to remain in the
refrigerator depends on the size of the bird. For example, a large bird such as
a turkey, will need 12 to 24 hours for the tenderizer to work.
If you're not sure how many servings you'll get from each bird this may help
*1 serving = 2 quail, 1-2 squab, 2-3 doves, or 1 small duck.
*You can figure on at least 2 servings from 1 pheasant or 1 large duck.
*A 4-6 lb. goose should feed 4-6 people.