Hang, brine & smoke grouse on a Traeger. Hanging your birds (guts & feathers intact) ages the meat and improves the flavour and texture. Next, a simple brine is used before basting the meat in garlic butter and herbs and then smoking the meat for maximum flavour.
For complete hanging, plucking/gutting, and spatchcocking instructions, read the recipe notes.
Author:The Peasant's Daughter
Prep Time:15 minutes
Cook Time:30 minutes
Total Time:45 minutes
Yield:1 grouse 1x
Note: All ingredient amounts and recipe instructions are given for ONE whole grouse, increase ingredients as required.
One whole grouse, plucked/gutted, wings and feet clipped, spine removed and flattened (spatchcocked)
For The Wet Brine:
Kosher salt (see instructions further down for amounts)
1 teaspoon whole peppercorns
1 teaspoon dried rosemary
1 teaspoon dried Sage
1 teaspoon dried orange peels
1 teaspoon dried lemon peels
Note: You can use the fresh version of the above ingredients, or even just an all-salt brine solution too. The most important part of brining is getting the kosher salt to fresh water ratio correct.
For The Marinade/Basting Sauce:
3 tablespoons butter
3 cloves fresh garlic, minced
1 tablespoon maple syrup
1 bay leaf
1 teaspoon dried lovage
Freshly cracked black pepper
After your grouse has finished hanging for the appropriate amount of time and you have plucked/gutted/spatchcocked it, it’s time to brine. Put your bird into the glass container where it will brine and add 1 measured cup of fresh water over the bird. Repeat this until the bird is fully submerged, keeping count of how many cups of water you needed to FULLY cover the grouse.
Remove the bird and discard the water.
Starting anew with fresh water, and keeping in mind the amount you measured which added up to a fully-submerged bird, add a few cups of fresh water to a small pot over high heat.
Add ALL the kosher salt — remember it’s 1 tablespoon of kosher salt per 1 cup of water for the brine solution. You’re going to boil the water until the salt is fully dissolved.
When the water begins to boil and the salt is fully disolved, remove your pot from the heat, stir in the rest of the ingredients, and then add the remaining amount of water.
Allow the brine solution to FULLY come to room temperature.
Submerge the grouse in the brine once the temperature has come down sufficiently, cover, and refrigerate for 12 hours and up to 24 hours. Weigh down the bird if it keeps popping up above the brine.
Once the bird has finished brining, remove it from and discard the solution, and then rinse the bird well under cool running water — this is a very important step.
Dry the bird completely and set it on a plate to come to room temperature (30 minutes) while you make the basting sauce/marinade.
In a small to medium-sized pot on medium heat add the butter.
Once the butter is hot and starts frothing, add the garlic, some pepper to taste, lovage, and bay leaf.
Once the butter becomes aromatic (60 seconds) remove the pot from the heat and stir in the maple syrup.
Baste your grouse inside and out and underneath skin (as much as possible) with this mixture. Do not add any salt.
Preheat your Traeger Grill on Smoke with the lid open for 5 minutes, allowing a fire to become established.
Place the grouse directly on the grill grates, basting the meat again with a pastry or silicone brush before closing the lid.
Smoke for 30 minutes, keeping an eye on the heat so that it does not rise and basting every 15 minutes.
Turn the heat up on your Traeger to high, baste the meat again, close the lid, and allow the grouse to roast at this higher temperature for 10-15 minutes.
Remove the grouse from the grill and allow to rest, loosely tented, for 15 minutes.
Serve and enjoy,
Grouse can be served pink or rare as well. This method of hanging, brining, and smoking before finishing on high heat results in a fully cooked bird but the hanging/brining prevents the meat from drying out or becoming tough. If you follow my recipe, you will end up with succulent and tender flesh that is perfectly seasoned and cooked.
1 grouse can feed 2 adult when served with the appropriate amount of sides or as part of a larger meal with more courses. Otherwise, 1 small grouse per person is ideal.