Small Game With Big Flavor
Fall is definitely in the air. I woke the other morning and it was 55 degrees. It got me thinking about getting out and hunting. Here in Minnesota one of the first seasons to open up is our small game season. That means rabbits, squirrels and grouse. It took me a while to get into small game hunting. I started out with hunting squirrels and grouse as a kid and then for whatever reason got away from them.
It was the food aspect of small game that brought me back to it. Squirrels are one of the most delicious animals out there and if you take the time to learn how to hunt them it will make you a better hunter all around.
I love hunting grouse but have never been very successful at it. Most of my grouse hunting involves long walks in the woods shooting squirrels and only occasionally shooting a grouse.
The same goes for rabbits, I don’t know that I have ever gone out hunting rabbits specifically. They’re always just a bonus when pheasant hunting or squirrel hunting.
A Favorite Recipe
One of my favorite fall recipes is Boudin Blanc. It’s a small delicate white sausage that has its origins in France. I’ve been making boudin blancs for a number of years following a recipe out of Jane Grigson’s book The Art of Charcuterie. The recipe calls for a combination of chicken and pork but I have made these with everything from pheasant to squirrels and every combo in between.
This batch was made with rabbit and pheasant that I harvested last year. It’s a great little recipe because it doesn’t take much meat. Only a pound or so is needed which equals about 2 squirrels, or in this case one rabbit and one pheasant. These little sausages are very mild and have a pleasantly delicate texture, not exactly what you would expect from a sausage. They go great with roasted potatoes and a dollop of apple butter.
Pheasant Boudin Blanc Recipe
8 ounces rabbit meat
8 ounces pheasant meat
1 1/2 pounds pork fat back
2 tablespoons kosher salt
1 tsp white pepper
1 tsp Quatre-epices
1 large or 2 medium yellow onions
1 cup bread crumbs soaked in 1/2 cup heavy cream
Hog casings for stuffing
3 additional cups of whole milk for poaching the boudins
- Working with very cold equipment and nearly frozen meat and fat, grind the pheasant, rabbit and pork fat along with the onion. Run it through your grinder a couple of times using the finest grinding die you have on its last pass through.
- Mix in the remaining ingredients and then make a sample patty and fry it up quick to taste for seasoning.
- The mixture will have a looser consistency than you’re probably used to using so when you stuff it into the casing be careful not to overfill the casing. The boudins will expand when you poach them and can burst the casings if overfilled.
- After filling the casings tie off the links with butcher’s twine in whatever size link you prefer. I like to make 3-4 inch boudins.
- Add 3 cups of whole milk to 5 cups of water and bring to a simmer. Poach the boudins in the milk for 5-10 minutes to ensure they are cooked fully through.
- When you remove the boudins from the milk rinse them in the sink under cold water and then allow to cool. If you’re going to cook them immediately, brush them with butter and grill them. Or, my favorite way is to saute them in butter with some thyme and garlic. Baste with butter until browned.
You can also freeze them for use at a later time. This recipe make about 25 3-4 inch boudins so you will probably have extra to freeze.