Upland Game Bird Curry Wraps

Upland De Arbol Curry Wraps with 2 dipping sauces

Mixing it up

We’d been eating a lot of red meat lately, and John made a specific request: he wanted upland birds.  He loves hunting them and eating them, and I love cooking them.  I was in the mood for a curry and knew I had a good dose of my own homemade curry spice mix in the spice cabinet.  (One of those things that calls to you and had been calling to me for a few months.)  

John agreed to that.  I agreed to a blue grouse that had been languishing in the freezer for too long.  Pheasant, chukar, turkey or any other pale-meated upland bird will work also. (And don’t forget the thighs.  So many recipes for pheasant breast, and thighs have a lot of good meat on them too without the tendons that make drumsticks more of a cook-it-till-it-falls-off-the-bone dish.) 

That curry mix in the spice cabinet is in the red meat section of The Wild Bowl—specifically for the De Arbol Bear Curry recipe. No matter. It also works great with white meat.   

FYI: You’ll be mixing up just enough spice for this dish.  But you might want to triple or quadruple it. This curry powder is much better than the bottled stuff perking up a potato salad, or fish salad (whether canned tuna or gently micro-waved walleye or perch) and is wonderful on grilled upland birds. Mix equal amounts of soft butter and curry mix and slather it on your grilled birds right after they come off the grill.  Need to marinade that tough old rooster first? Twenty four hours submersed in cream soda is as simple as it gets.  The ascorbic acid in the soda tenderizes the bird and cream soda also compliments the curry flavors.) 

Upland De Arbol Curry Wraps with 2 Dipping Sauces

A variation on the de Arbol Bear Curry in The Wild Bowl: 100 wild game soups, stews and chilies

Serves 4-6

Game Bird Curry Wraps

My very small local grocery carries what they call ‘Pita Wraps’ which are really just wraps, and thick ones at that.  If you have access to thinner, more delicate pitas, they are a much better choice for this hand-held upland bird curry.

And now, let’s talk about the banana. A lot of curries have coconut milk in them, which makes the curry rather creamy and rich tasting. But coconut milk is also high in fat and calories.  While I love those curries, I wanted to make a less fat dish here, so substituted the very ripe—almost black—banana on a whim.  It was an amazing addition that added the creaminess—without fat—and also gave the curry a gentle sweetness that compliments the spiciness.  

PS: if you own an airfryer, you can also put 2 tablespoons of the curry into a 9” flour tortilla or egg roll wrap, according to package directions, and cook it at 360F for 9 minutes.  (Arrange them in the air fryer so they’re not touching, and turn them about halfway through the cooking.) 

Ingredients

  • 1 pound upland meat, chopped 
  • 2 tablespoons oil 
  • 1 teaspoon minced garlic 
  • 1 sweet red bell pepper, chopped 
  • 1 yellow onion, chopped 
  • 1 tablespoon curry powder mix* (below) 
  • ¼ – ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon coarse ground black pepper 
  • 1 cup chicken broth 
  • 2 dried de arbol chilies (about 8-10 inches total) 
  • ½ mashed very ripe banana
  • 6 pita pockets, or 9” flat breads
  • Curry Powder Mix*
  • 1½ tablespoon ground cumin
  • 1½ teaspoons ground turmeric
  • ½ teaspoon coriander powder
  • ¼ teaspoon smoked serrano chili, ground

Combine in a glass jar, cover, and shake well. 

Dipping Sauces: 

We couldn’t decide which was our favorite so I’m including both.  For each wrap mix ¼ cup yogurt with either ½-1 teaspoon Sweet Thai red chili sauce or hot jalapeno jelly.  (Don’t melt the jelly, just smash it into the yogurt with the back of a fork.)

Cooking 

  1. Cut the upland bird meat into ½” cubes, breasts, thighs, any meat available, and wrap in two layers of paper towels.  Give that a little squeeze to get excess moisture off, then set the meat aside in the toweling.
  2. In a large skillet, over medium-high heat, start 2 tablespoons of oil. When it gets hot, and starts swirling, brown the garlic, onion and red pepper, about 7-8 minutes.   Add all the curry powder mix and upland meat, half the salt and pepper and give the pot a good stir.  Let the meat cook with the spices and veggies 2-3 minutes, then add the broth and de arbol chilies.  Mash up the ripe banana and stir into the curry to get it evenly distributed.  
  3. Cook about 15-20 minutes to let the flavors develop and until the liquid is almost gone, adding enough of the rest of the salt and pepper until it suits you.  Warm the flat bread or pita pockets in a microwave, then add the curry.  Serve with the dipping sauces.  

* Mixing your own spice blends is a great way to cut costs and it’s easy.   I have a ‘health food’ store nearby that carries a large selection of bulk spices, and has a rapid turnover, so all the spices are very fresh as well. It’s a much more economical way to buy them than in sealed jars and they’re fresher as well.  Plus you can customize them as I did with this curry powder.  If you don’t have a comparable source nearby, I have also ordered spices from The Great American Spice Company (americanspice.com/877-6-SPICE-9). 

Need more upland game bird recipes?   Check out my all upland cookbook.  100 upland bird recipes plus photos of parting, plucking and breasting game birds.  Plus dealing with broken wing and leg bones. And for videos of parting, primping and plucking?  Got ‘em.   My friend Allison says, “Those videos make it look so easy.”  There are four, short videos on Youtube . Here’s the link:  https://youtu.be/UVBIqn56270

Captions: 

  1. The ‘pita wraps’ at my local store aren’t really pita pockets. They’re thicker than I’d like, but they’ll do in a pinch.  A 9” flour tortilla will also work.  
  2. So what do they mean when they say, cook until all the liquid is gone? And how can I tell?  Thing is you don’t want the curry to get really dry, so run you spatula down the middle of the pan.  This is about right.  Still plenty moist, but not drippy.
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