Cooking Meat/Chucker

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Question
I have some chucker to cook. I plan to use a recipe for woodcock. Do you think the substitution will work? Any suggestions? The recipe involves searing the bird in clarified butter and then roasting at 392F for 10 min. Plus three more min under butter paper after spooning pan juices over the meat. Served over parsnips with a red wine sauce with a hint of chocolate.

Answer
Game Girl:

Chukar like a lot of game birds tends to cook dry, they are in the pheasant family.  For that reason they should not be over cooked.  One of the problems with following recipes is they are generic in their temperatures.  If they said "cook meat to 135F internal temp" they would turn out a lot better.  Cooking to time at temp is an estimate at best since no two ovens cook the same.

The recipe itself sound nice, just be careful about the cooking times.  Cooking to 392F (I have never seen an oven calibrated to two degree increments...lol) will be tricky.  I am assuming that the intent is to warm the interior of the bird and not overcook it.  Use a meat thermometer.  You are cooking it whole from the sounds of it.  Does it mention a rest?  The meat continues to cook after removing it from the heat, but with small birds that might not be too much of a consideration.  Get an instant read meat thermometer...they are indispensible.

As a geologist I can tell you that birds are the largest living group of descendants of the dinosaurs.  So when we say that most bird flesh tastes the same, its pretty much true.  I have found in my hunting and eating that the biggest factor affecting the taste of bird flesh is their diet.  Some upland birds taste of sage, some waterfowl taste of fish and  others have a distinct muddy taste that is unappealing. I believe that game birds growing reliance on waste grain from agricultural operations is a boon to their table taste.  Although at one point while hunting in Montana we were warned by the state not to consume their livers or other organs due to high concentrations of agricultural herbicides and pesticides in those parts of the birds.

You recipe should be fine for the bird.

Just a note about something you may have noticed.  

Dry meat tastes more moist when a lot of fat is added.  Note the high level of fat in this recipe...butter, pan juices and chocolate.  If you think the meat is going to be dry, add butter to the sauce too, or to any gravy that will be put on any dry meat.  It causes the salivary glands to go into overdrive and the excess saliva combats the percieved dryness of the meat.  That is why chicken al king and turkey tetrazinni consist of dry leftover white meat in high fat gravies.  It works for any low fat high protein game meats...venison...elk...guffalo...antelope.  In the old days they would use a larding needle to put fat inside the meat, particularly roasts to keep them from drying out.  The best prevention is serving the meat rare.  

Cooking Meat

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Keith Patton

Expertise

I can answer questions regarding wildgame cookery ranging from venison, elk, buffalo, wild geese, duck, wild turtle, feral hog, javalena, wild boar, racoon, beaver, and woodchuck.

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I am an avid hunter and chef. I have run a successful catering business, processing my own meat, curing hams and making wild game sausage.

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