Slow-Cooked Sharptail Pockets

Slow-Cooked Sharptail Pockets

How to fix the flavor of game birds and make them more moist as well.

I’m not very fond of sage and sharp-tailed grouse—for eating.  There are always the exceptions however.  My husband John and I once lucked into a large covey of sharp-tails gorging themselves on buffalo berries. And by the copious deep red-purple droppings around the bushes, we figured they’d been at it for a day or two. We managed to take several before they wised up, and they were the mildest tasting sharpies I’d ever eaten.

More often it takes a bit of ingenuity in the kitchen.  And this is one of my favorite cures-for-birds-I-don’t-like-to-eat recipes.   It cures the flavor while leaving the birds moist.  Plus, slow-cooked foil pockets are pretty much fool-proof.  Prairie chickens are just as good fixed this way, and there’s no reason why pheasants can’t join the pocket party—if only because the recipe is so easy and wild game birds are quite lean. Infusing moisture while the bird is cooking is a good thing.

*For larger birds like pheasants or forest grouse, increase the rest of the ingredients: half again, or twice the recipe works.

Slow-Cooked Sharptail Pockets

Serves 2


  • 1 cup beef bouillon
  • 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tablespoon apple jelly
  • 1 tablespoon cherry preserves
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried leaf oregano
  • 1 whole sharptail grouse, cleaned, then plucked or skinned


  1. Preheat the oven to 200F.  In a medium sized bowl combine the bouillon, Worcestershire sauce, apple jelly, cherry preserves, onion powder, and oregano.   Stir to mix well.
  2. Cut 3 lengths of foil, about 24” each.   Using a loaf pan, place one piece of foil lengthwise, and press it into the loaf pan.  Press the second piece of foil crosswise into the loaf pan.    Fold the short ends up to form a ‘boat’ to hold the sauce.
  3. Pour about 1/4 of the sauce into the boat you’ve formed.   Nestle the bird into the boat, and pour the rest of the sauce over the top.   Seal each of the two layers, making it as watertight as possible.   Then wrap the package in the third piece of foil, and slip it back into the loaf pan.  (The loaf pan will act as a drip catcher, if necessary.)
  4. Place the loaf pan in the center of the oven and let the bird slow-cook for 8 hours, carefully turning the package 3 times (breast up, to back up, to breast up) during the cooking.    Remove the bird from the bag, and let cook about 5 more minutes.   Cut the legs and breast off, arrange on a platter, and pour the cooking sauce over the bird.   Serve with hot mashed potatoes and peas.


Need more ways to fix you wild birds? Upland Game Bird Cookery covers them all from tiny quail and woodcock to strutting gobblers.

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