Hazel grouse is a small bird weighing no more than a pound. And once it was a "thunderstorm" of the whole taiga - the largest representative of chicken. At least, such a tradition was preserved among the Evenki people.
Once upon a time in the vastness of the taiga there was a huge bird, which instills fear in all living creatures. When it took off, trees fell, and animals hid in horror. Once, when a god traveled around the taiga, he heard a terrible roar and saw animals trembling with fear. "What's the matter?" - God asked. And the inhabitants of the taiga told him about a grouse of gigantic proportions. God called a huge bird to him. Grouse made excuses that he himself would be glad not to harm other residents of the taiga, but he could not because of his large size. And God proposed to equally divide the white meat of the hazel grouse between all representatives of the chicken family, and the rest would remain to the hazel grouse. So they did. All birds received meat from the taiga giant, and as a result, he himself had nothing left. But he was not upset and reconciled with his fate - to be the smallest representative of the Kuroobrazny squad and today only occasionally frightens taiga residents when, taking off, it takes off from the ground with noise.
Hazel grouse is a small representative of the grouse family: it weighs from 300 to 500 g, and does not grow more than 40 cm. These birds can be easily recognized by the specific motley color of plumage, which, in fact, served as the occasion for the Russian name - hazel grouse. If you look closely at the plumage, you can see a variety of colors: red, black, gray, white, brown and even red around the eyes. By the way, the patterns on the plumage of different hazel grouse may be different. They depend on the habitat of the wild bird, which is important for skillfully masking for survival. Females and males are very similar to each other, but the second has more red color above the eyes, there is a crest on the head, and a rich black spot is clearly visible above the beak.
Ornithologists counted 14 species of hazel grouse, but hunting is allowed only for representatives of one of them - Bonasa bonasia, that is, common grouse. By the way, hunting for these birds is allowed only at certain times - in spring and autumn.
Hazel grouse are sedentary birds that never leave their native places. Their home is nests hidden in grass or moss, in which birds live in pairs. Today they are found almost throughout Eurasia in dense coniferous forests, as well as among aspen, birch, alder. The meat of this game is loved by the French and Belgians. From ancient times, the inhabitants of Altai, Sakhalin, the Urals, Kolyma, the Japanese island of Hokkaido and Korea hunted grouse. Actually, this delicacy is found in the cuisines of all countries in which birds are common.
The nutritional value
The uniqueness of grouse meat is that it contains almost equal proportions of proteins (18.5 g) and fats (19.5 g), but at the same time there are not so many calories (in 100 grams there are only 250 kcal). In addition to the main nutrients, this product is rich in B vitamins and vitamin A, phosphorus, zinc, iron, and also contains small reserves of magnesium, calcium, sodium and potassium.
Grouse meat is very nutritious. This product is a very good source of protein (100 g contains almost half the daily norm of proteins), which means amino acids that are important for humans. The meat of this bird is easily absorbed by the human digestive system. And if scientists still have questions about red types of meat, and there are many people in the world who refuse to use just such a product, then with poultry fillet everything is different. Grouse meat, like other birds, can be called a dietary product, especially if you remove excess fat from it.
If we recall that hazel grouses are found mainly in ecologically clean forests, it becomes clear why their meat is called the most useful alternative to chicken. Grouse fillet differs significantly from the meat of most other game birds. It is not at all stiff, but rather very tender, looks like a pink and white chicken fillet. But in order to preserve the delicate properties of this meat, culinary experts advise pouring it with milk and bring to a boil. And only then proceed with the preparation of the desired dish.
There are a huge number of recipes from this miniature bird. And they are all different, as are the national cuisines in which they are found. The French, for example, love to cook grouse fillet with mushrooms, which are then served in tartlets. Residents of taiga, especially hunters, as a rule, bake fresh meat of birds on a spit or prepare soups from it. Many ancient recipes for the preparation of the carcass of this bird have been preserved. And in many of them it is advised to cook grouse in clay pots.
The advantage of this meat is that it is cooked very quickly. As a rule, after 20 minutes of heat treatment, the fillet is ready for use. To check readiness, it is enough to pierce it with a thick needle or a toothpick (it should easily enter the meat).
You can cook the whole carcass, in particular, stuff it, add slices of fillet to the soup (especially a winning combination with mushroom soup), and get delicious stew from the necks and wings. Grouse goes well with vegetables and mushrooms (especially chanterelles). As a more interesting side dish, pineapples and kiwi are suitable for cooked birds. And pieces of the finished fillet can be added to salads, instead of other types of meat. By the way, the beloved salad by many in the original recipe is prepared with grouse meat. If you wrap slices of raw meat in slices of bacon and fry or bake, you get an original and tasty dish. But cooks categorically do not recommend pickling carcasses of birds - meat will lose its zest.
Grouse carcasses are suitable for boiling, baking, frying and stewing. A variety of sauces are suitable for the finished bird, although, according to many gourmets, there is nothing tastier than hazel grouse with wild berry sauce (especially a winning combination with lingonberries).
To make the cooked meat really tasty, you should know some cooking secrets. For example, so that the baked carcass does not turn out to be very dry, it must be cooked at high temperature. And do not worry that the delicacy will burn. Remember: the grouse carcass is quite small and cooks very quickly, so it will not have time to burn. It is also better to fry the bird over high heat, in a well-heated pan. And in order to get a delicious crisp, do not cover the pan during cooking.
Baked poultry carcass is one of the most popular and delicious recipes from hazel grouse. Dry the pre-gutted and washed carcass a bit (you can use paper towels), grate with a mixture of salt, pepper and your favorite spices. Put several slices of bacon, sweet pepper, slices of tomato, onion, herbs or another set of vegetables to taste in the carcass. Bake over high heat for 20-25 minutes.
Another popular option is fried hazel grouse. For this dish, carcasses prepared and grated with spices are also taken, but the bacon is not placed inside, but the bird’s body is wrapped around it (you can fix it with toothpicks). In this form, grouse is fried on all sides in a pan.
But, it is worth saying that these recipes are very high-calorie. To make the finished dish more dietary, you do not need to add bacon, and bake the carcass of the bird on a wire rack so that excess fat does not linger in the meat. True, in this case, you should be prepared for the fact that the finished grouse will turn out not so juicy.
But French culinary specialists offer us a more refined and more dietary option for cooking poultry - hazel grouse in wine with pineapples. To do this, put on a baking sheet a layer of pineapples, diced, on top - pre-fried carcasses, which are sprinkled with spices and pour white wine. This dish is baked for no longer than 20 minutes. Before serving, carcasses can be watered with a small amount of pineapple juice.
Another tasty, but dietary dish is baked grouse with lingonberries. For this, the prepared carcass should be filled with fresh lingonberries (you can mix the berries with a little sugar) and butter. The carcass is baked until golden brown.
Some culinary specialists cook meatballs from grouse meat. To do this, the meat is separated from the bones, then it is ground, spices are added and a loaf soaked in milk. The formed meatballs are slightly fried, put into a heat-resistant form, a little butter and broth are added. Cook on a small one no longer than 15 minutes.
Can hazel grouse be dangerous
As already mentioned, grouse meat is one of the safest. But there are still some warnings. Firstly, like the meat of any other game, the hazel grouse before use is important to give thorough heat treatment. Since forest birds are more than domestic birds tend to be carriers of parasites.
The second danger is a stale product. The meat goes bad pretty quickly. Therefore, raw grouse can not be kept warm for a long time, especially not gutted. Peeled carcasses must be cooked or frozen immediately.
Grouse carcass is a welcome trophy not only for hunters, but also for cooks. Cooking this little bird is a pleasure, not to mention how gourmets enjoy its tender meat. Usually game meat is not so easy to cook to make a tasty dish without the characteristic smell of game. But hazel grouse in this regard is a pleasant exception. And to all this, dishes from it are not only delicious delicacies, but also a useful source of vitamins, minerals and, most importantly, protein, the main building material for the human body.