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Sharp-Tailed Grouse Tacos with Mango-Pepper Salsa Recipe

The dark meat of sharp-tailed grouse can yield delicious results if handled properly long before the frying pan.

Sharp-Tailed Grouse Tacos with Mango-Pepper Salsa Recipe

Like many dark meat wild birds, grouse don’t take kindly to overcooking. Take a small piece, season it simply, cook it pink and taste it on its own. (Photo By: Jenny Nguyen-Wheatley)

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If you’ve had a previous bad experience with sharp-tail grouse or prairie chickens, try to be more mindful of how you’re handling them in the field. Then, make sure that you don’t overcook the meat. Like many dark meat wild birds, grouse don’t take kindly to overcooking. Take a small piece, season it simply, cook it pink and taste it on its own. Your findings might surprise you. From there, the fun part begins: figuring out which seasonings will complement the true flavor of your game, which you know because you didn’t cover it with bacon or BBQ sauce at first taste. Although, there is nothing wrong with those treatments in and of themselves.

Sharp-Tailed Grouse Tacos with Mango-Pepper Salsa Recipe
Despite all the complaints I've heard about the flavor of sharp-tailed grouse, my experiences have been nothing but pleasant. With just a bit of salt, pepper, and a quick sear for a rosy, pink center, it tasted no stranger than teal or dove. (Photo By: Jenny Nguyen-Wheatley)

Serves: 4 portions
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 30 hours

Taco Ingredients:

  • 4 sharp-tailed grouse or prairie chicken breasts, boneless
  • Onion salt
  • Garlic powder
  • Chili powder
  • Cumin
  • 1 tbs. olive oil or duck fat
  • Fresh cilantro
  • Corn or flour tortillas
  • Sea salt, to taste


Salsa Ingredients:

  • 1 semi-ripe, firm mango
  • ¼ cup red onion, diced small
  • 1 jalapeno, seeded and diced small
  • ¼ tsp. cayenne pepper
  • ½ cup red bell pepper, diced small
  • Juice of half a lime
  • Sea salt, to taste
Sharp-Tailed Grouse Tacos with Mango-Pepper Salsa Recipe
The bright and zesty mango-pepper salsa is a perfect pairing with the rich dark meat of the sharp-tailed grouse. (Photo By: Jenny Nguyen-Wheatley)

Cooking Directions:

  1. Pat grouse breasts dry with paper towels and season to taste with salt.
  2. Next, rub equal amounts of onion salt, garlic powder, chili powder, and cumin all over each breast. Set aside.
  3. Peel mango and cut into small dices—the same size as the other ingredients.
  4. In a bowl, combine all mango-pepper salsa ingredients, and then season to taste with salt.
  5. Heat a skillet over medium-high heat and when hot, add oil or duck fat.
  6. Dab dry seasoned grouse breasts before placing into the pan.
  7. Sear for 3-4 minutes on each side, or until internal temperature reaches medium to medium-rare—meat should be served pink.
  8. Take out meat and allow to rest for at least 5 minutes, loosely tented with foil.
  9. In another skillet over medium-high heat, heat tortillas until warmed through and slightly toasted, flipping occasionally.
  10. Cut grouse breasts into cubes, and serve immediately with warm tortillas, mango-pepper salsa, and fresh cilantro.


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