Cooking Wild Game Birds

Wild game birds are highly desirable for the dinner table, whether pheasant, quail, rabbit, squirrel, or grouse. Learn to cook small game animals like a pro with these three exciting recipes.

| September/October 2018

  • A watchful ring-necked pheasant hiding in a field of corn stubble.
    Photo by Getty/DelmasLehman
  • Cover of the book "Pheasant, Quail, Cottontail."
    Cover courtesy Ogden Publications Archives

Game birds have always held a high place at the table, whether it’s a hunter’s prize of roast grouse or the annual Thanksgiving turkey. Pheasants, quail, rabbits, doves, grouse, and more are singular species with grand culinary traditions that offer cooks an unmatched range of flavors. Many cooks, however, fear the fowl. Lean and athletic, game birds, rabbits, and hares can dry out in a hurry. But you can learn to cook small game like a pro: perfectly crisp skin over tender breast meat, melt-in-your-mouth braises, barbecue, stews, and sausages.

Hank Shaw, an award-winning food writer, hunter, and cook at the forefront of the wild-to-table revolution, provides all you need to know about obtaining, cleaning, and cooking birds ranging from quail to pheasant, turkey to dove, and beyond in his book Pheasant, Quail, Cottontail, which also covers a range of small game animals, including rabbits, hares, and squirrels. You’ll find detailed information on how best to select these various species at the market and how to treat them in the kitchen, as well as how to pluck, clean, and hang wild birds. Shaw’s global yet approachable recipes include basics, such as Roast Pheasant and Buttermilk Fried Rabbit; international classics like Tuscan Hare Ragu, French Rabbit a la Moutarde, Mexican Turkey Tamales with Pumpkin, and General Tso’s Pheasant; as well as unique dishes, such as Roast Woodcock Michigan. It also features an array of small game charcuterie, from fresh sausages to confit and terrines.

Here are three recipes from my latest book, Pheasant, Quail, Cottontail, which covers a range of small game animals, including rabbits, hares, and squirrels.

Pheasant Soup with Egg Noodles

Buttermilk Fried Rabbit

Buffalo-Style Turkey Mac and Cheese

Pheasant, Quail, Cottontail is available at or by calling 866-803-7096.

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