I shot this ruffed grouse at my homestead in Northern Minnesota. The Hoyum family has a few hundred acres of woods, streams, rivers, fields, and several miles of well-groomed trails. Which makes it a great place to find a couple of ruffed grouse. Ruffed grouse are very densely populated in Minnesota. We grew up eating grouse a couple times each fall just before deer season. And occasionally even during deer season if the deer hunting was poor. My uncles tend to cut firewood if they can't find the deer. But I reach for my open-sighted Marlin bolt-action .22 caliber and hit the trails. I like to use the .22 because I don't have to worry about ruining any of the meat with pellets. Grouse are really stupid, so all you have to do is walk quietly and keep your eyes peeled. Then when you see one, just shoot it in the neck or head. It takes practice, but it's not that hard.
1. Quarter a grouse and season it. Typically the legs of the grouse aren't used, as they are believed to be too scrawny and not worth the effort. But as you can see in the photo, there are actually a few bites there. Quarter the grouse and season it with salt and pepper. I saved the giblets from my grouse because they are edible and tasty. You don't have to add them if you don't have them or you don't want them.
2. Brown the grouse quarters in butter. Melt 2 tablespoons of butter in 1 tablespoon of vegetable oil over medium-high heat in an 8-inch skillet. Brown the grouse on all sides, remove the browned pieces from the pan, and set to the side. Add the onion, garlic, mushroom, and carrot to the pan and saute for 3 minutes. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F and move an oven rack to the middle. In a separate pan, reduce the 1 cup of game stock to a ½ cup.
3. Pour the reduced stock over the grouse and finish it in the oven. Stir the mustard and thyme into the vegetables in the pan and add the optional tomato pieces. Toss to mix everything evenly. Lay the grouse pieces on the top of the vegetables and pour the reduced stock over the top and stick it in the oven. Roast the pan in the oven for about 10 minutes until the grouse breast is fully cooked, around 150 degrees in the middle.
If you can't find ruffed grouse, try another type of grouse or game bird like squab, quail, pigeon, dove, or even pheasant would work. Or if you really can't find anything, try chicken or Rock Cornish hens.
Substitute chicken or veal stock for the game stock if you don't have any of that on hand, either.
Add a little brandy at the end to give this recipe a little French kick in the pants.