Grouse Nuggets and Deep-Fried Pheasant with Chips

A recent issue of Sporting Times, which is published in the UK, reports on a Norfolk fish and chip shop which is thought to have become the first in England to include deep-fried pheasant on its menu. French’s Fish & Chips in Wells-next-the-Sea is offering pheasant breast coated in breadcrumbs with chips for £5 per portion.

But this is hardly newsworthy in our minds, as we have been featuring grouse and pheasant in the same style for over a decade at the Chateau, which we dubbed “Grouse MacNuggets” and are served with honey, in the same style as nuggets of fame under the golden arches.  It has been a huge hit with children and those new to game, together with dyed in the wool shooters.  It’s tough to beat really.  We serve ours with rice, rather than chips.  Fried, fried, fried can be a bit much, when taken all at the same time.

By |December 11th, 2011|Recipes, Wingshooting|Comments Off on Grouse Nuggets and Deep-Fried Pheasant with Chips

Not all Chickens are Alike!

In France and most of Europe, poussin are very popular and have been regularly available since the domesticated wild red jungle fowl. Poussin is the first stage of a chicken’s life (think veal).  Next is the poulet.  Then, mature females or hens are poules, and the mature males are coqs.  Typically, a European goes to market with a specific type of chicken in mind depending upon the recipe.  For instance, cooking an old rooster in wine for a long time, coq au vin.  Poule au pot, hen in the pot, requires a mature female to mature in the broth and vegetables.  Here the coq’s pronounced flavor would be a bit overwhelming.  In America, a capon is a reasonable substitute.  A capon is gelded male fed milk until 6 months.  The flesh is very white and, in France, the capon is traditionally served at Christmas.  For everyday roasting or other dry cooking, get a poulet, or pullet, for a bird that will be juicy and tender.  A poussin is the most tender, as they are only a month old and purely grain fed.
In the United States, fryers are birds of either sex up to 3 ½ pounds, then come roasters up to 5 pounds, and capons which range from 6-10 pounds.  Poussin can be ordered in the US from D’Artagnans.
I encourage you to buy your chickens whole, rather than in parts (as it is generally far less expensive and you’ll be rewarded with all those sauce-building pieces such as the wing tips, back neck and giblets.  It’s easy to learn how to spatchcock a chicken, all you need are kitchen shears and a sharp knife.
We through any extra meat such as the wing tips and back into a […]

By |November 27th, 2011|Cuisine, Fur and Feather, Recipes|Comments Off on Not all Chickens are Alike!

Check out the new recipe pages

We have added recipes from our favorite travels, near and a far, on the Sporting Road.  As the Sporting Road is too vast to feature only French cooking, we have added some our favorite recipes discovered along the Sporting Road, from various cuisines.  Please check out our new pages:
Argentine Recipes
Asian Recipes
Hungarian Recipes
Moroccan Recipes
Spanish Recipes

By |October 11th, 2011|Cuisine, Recipes, Travel|Comments Off on Check out the new recipe pages

International Adventures in Cuisine Along the Sporting Road

Recipes sometimes have as much to do with imagination as it is with flavor.  A dish is more than a collection of ingredients.  Ingredients come from food and food comes from somewhere.  That somewhere may be in the snow or the sun may be a sign of a particular season, and more often than not that somewhere may show through in the final dish.

Yet, with my cooking, as everything in life, I make comparisons and find it difficult to settle for second best.  I like dishes that are the best—or, at least the best of what that dish can be.  Hence, my life-long quest for adventures to find the best recipes and to replicate them in the kitchen, after days spent on the Sporting Road.  Because ultimately, no one cares where the ingredients come from, whether they are flown half-way round the world or grown in your own back yard, it simply comes down to this—do I like this or not?

Our friend in Paris pointed this out to me one time as I started to debate French pinot noirs with Californian ones.  I was arguing that the French ones are better and pointing out the balance of fruitiness, acidity and chalkiness that the French traditionally strive for in Bordeaux wines, while American wine makers often emphasize only the fruitiness.  He said he didn’t know enough about Californian Pinot Noirs to say.  And, he said, “There is no argument, when it comes to matters of taste.  Either you like it or you don’t?  It doesn’t matter if you can explain why, it doesn’t make it taste any better.”

Like with wine, food stuffs are affected by seasons, growing conditions, harvest times, the amount of water, the terroir, etc.,  and […]

By |October 9th, 2011|Cuisine, Recipes, Travel|Comments Off on International Adventures in Cuisine Along the Sporting Road

Hunt, Gather, Cook (Book Review **** 4/5)

Hank Shaw is an award-winning journalist and makes his debut from his blogger’s guide to a book on foraging, fishing, hunting, simply entitled Hunt, Gather Cook–and makes the most of the fruits of a day spent gathering food in the field. His blog, Hunter Angler Gardener Cook, has developed an avid following among outdoor people and foodies alike.

Hank Shaw’s blog, Hunter Angler Gardener Cook, and which is more impressive than the book, can be found at:

His poacher’s blog, which is also worthy of mention, despite his bad-form tactics, can be found at:

By |October 8th, 2011|Book Reviews, Cuisine, Fishing, Recipes, Wingshooting|Comments Off on Hunt, Gather, Cook (Book Review **** 4/5)

Not All Lambs Are the Same

Excepted from an Interview with Nick de Toldi at

There is only the need to buy the most prime and expensive cut of lamb for the sort of dishes such as Rack of Lamb or the famous “Baron d’agneau de Pauillac”, a roast including the 2 legs and the “saddle” typically served at the prestige dinners of the wine chateaux beatween Margaux and Pauillac.

But, I explained to Nick that in Colorado, we frequently encounter Basque sheepherders while hunting Dusky Grouse and Sharptailed Grouse here in September.  And, their sheep are eating nearly a pure diet of sage brush, which is very strong-tasting.  The mule deer that come from the mountains are very strong and gamey as a result of this same sage brush diet, as compared to our white-tailed deer which feed off of the farmer’s grains of the plains.

I compared this to our farrier who raises a special breed of lamb for the table and sells them by the whole or half.  They are pricey, around $300 to have a whole one butchered and packed.  He feeds them a special diet to have them fattened and the best tasting, and they are harvested while they are very young. 

He reiterated that for the slow braised dishes, you want the heartier and older lambs, while for the quickly cooked chops, you want the young corn-fed or grass-fed varieties.

By |October 8th, 2011|Cuisine, Recipes|Comments Off on Not All Lambs Are the Same

Cento Italian Tomatoes

I used to buy whatever canned tomatoes were on sale in from the grocer.  Then I started to realize that tomatoes on the vine, never tasted the same from one to the other, so why should they in the can.  And, tomatoes in Italy, never tasted anything like those grown in America, in part to their soil and in part to their seed. 

San Marzano, Italy, is like the Bordeaux region of tomatoes.  But you need to be careful as there are tomatoes that are labeled San Marzano, but grown in the US – referring to the type of seed, not the location of growing. Whatever brand you buy, you need to make sure it’s Denominazione di Origine Protetta certified, if you want to make sure it is from San Marzano. 

These Cento DOP Certified San Marzano tomatoes are the best that can be bought in the US, but cost nearly $5 for a 28 oz can, if you can find them.  Cento has a San Marzano varietal that’s non DOP, but grown in Italy, which sells for around $2.50for a 35 oz can.   Then there’s the “Italian Style” Cento’s which are grown outside of Italy, maybe even in California, but are Italian style in that they are Roma tomatoes, and cost under $2.00 for a 28 oz can.

We find a real difference in tasting the “Italian Style” Cento’s to those made in Italy, and those made in Italy are worth the small extra cost.  And if you can find them reasonably priced, the DOP Certified San Marzano are worth double the cost of the “made in Italy” tins,, as they are noticeably, however slightly, better.  Simply put they are the best in canned tomatoes, if you can afford them, get them.

By |October 8th, 2011|Cuisine, Recipes|Comments Off on Cento Italian Tomatoes

Ten Tips for Becoming A Better Grouse Hunter

Have an Uncle Who’s Part Indian.  I am not being cute or clever.  My heritage is part Sioux Indian and there is something to be learned from our Native Americans when it comes to forest craft, it’s not just all folk-lore.  While Indians have a legendary reputation for being quieter and more stealthy in the woods, it’s for good reason, but we could argue whether that is due to nature or nurture.  Whatever the reason and if you weren’t born with it, see what you can learn from someone skilled in this manner of stealthy stalking and it doesn’t matter if it is applied on big game or upland birds, it’s better than the alternative of bashing through the woods scaring every grouse out of the other end of it before you even step foot in the beginning of the other end of the woods.  Better yet, adopt an “uncle” born or skilled in these crafts.
Learn to shoot a shotgun and learn to shoot it well.  We attended Buz Fawcett’s Wingshooting Workshop many times now, in efforts to become Master Shotgunners.  If you hit what you can see and learn to shoot instinctively, you will be a better grouse hunter.
Bring a picnic on the grouse moor.  You never know when you will need fortitude from the elements or simply from your own psyche, if it’s a less than stellar day.  We always bring a French picnic, complete with some red wine, pate’ from birds gone by, cheese course, salad and other treats.
Stuff enough shells in your bag, but not too many to begin to think you you have enough to afford to miss.  My friend, Paul, grew up in rural Nebraska and his father was a professional assassin for coyotes and other predators, working […]

By |October 8th, 2011|Cuisine, Picnic, Recipes, Travel, Wingshooting|Comments Off on Ten Tips for Becoming A Better Grouse Hunter

Vanilla Taste Testing, Mexican versus Madagascar

Vanilla is the second most expensive spice in the world, behind only saffron.  The sap of conifers and coal extracts, used to make artificial vanillas do not come close to competing with pure vanilla.    

Commercial vanilla extract (if pure and not of the artificial varieties) still usually has a base simple syrup  added to the extract to give it sweetness.  To make home-made vanilla extract, free of artificial ingredients and sweeteners:


1 vanilla beans
1/3 cup vodka
glass jar with tight-fitting lid


Use a sharp paring knife to cut lengthwise down each vanilla bean, splitting them in half, leaving an inch at the end connected, if your jar allows; otherwise this step is only important in ease of removing the extract without the bean, as you can simply sieve the extract upon pouring.  Put vanilla beans in a glass jar or bottle with a tight-fitting lid (small French mason jars work well). Cover completely with the vodka.  Shake every once in a while.  Store in the pantry, in a cool dark place, for 2 months or longer to allow the flavors to absorb into the alcohol. This lasts indefinitely. You can keep topping it off with vodka once in a while, if you wish to make it last longer, as the flavor will concentrate with age.  Another favorite of preserving is vanilla sugar,which you make by putting a split vanilla bean into a jar of white, granulated sugar.   You simply use the vanilla infused sugar and omit the addition of the extract in a recipe.  One tablespoon of vanilla sugar has the flavoring power of 1/4 teaspoon of vanilla extract.

Vanilla is native only to Central America it took until the 19th century to cultivate this orchid, in order to produce the vanilla pod (beans),which need to be pollinated by bees or hummingbirds.  As the orchids are only open […]

By |October 5th, 2011|Cuisine, Recipes, Sweets|Comments Off on Vanilla Taste Testing, Mexican versus Madagascar

Hatch New Mexico Green Chiles

This is one of the top ten things that we in Colorado and New Mexico have to explain to out of towners.  Green chile is not chili.  And, yes, it’s best if someone asks you, “Do you want that smothered?,” that you comply.  You will then be asked “Red or Green,” and if you don’t want to look like a foreigner,  you’ll know that the red chile is usually more mild, as it has been kissed by the frost at the end of the growing season, turning the green chiles fully ripe.  Finally, if you want to pass as a local, you can reply “Christmas” which is a combination of both the red and green.  And, yes, “We really do put this shit on everything,” as they say from grits and burgers, to most Mexican dishes,and even to being served as its own stew (which is probably the most common version, if you are just asked, “Do you want some green chile?,” they are referring to the stew.

The New Mexico green chile season is from mid-September to the first week of October.  We had 2 bags (2 1/2 bushels each) roasted this season, with a big party to solicit help with the peeling and bagging of them all.  We like mixing one bag of the hot Sandias with one bag of the medium-hot Red Big Jim grown in the Hatch valley.  Then, after roasting and peeling into 1/2 cup plastic bags for freezing.  Hatch chiles should  not be confused with the less desirable Mexican and Pueblo, Colorado chiles.  The Hatch Valley is famous for its great flavor and is legendary in the Western United States for growing the best green chiles.   The chiles vary in heat, depending on the place in the Hatch valley, the time […]

By |October 3rd, 2011|Colorado, Recipes|Comments Off on Hatch New Mexico Green Chiles