What do you do when your son bags five ptarmigans and two spruce grouse just a few minutes into an afternoon hunting expedition? Why whip up a new homemade ptarmigan stew recipe of course!
Various types of ptarmigans live in different habitats across our home country of Canada, as well as the United States and parts of Europe. They're easy to hunt and make a tasty stew or soup. Apparently, they hang around with spruce grouse in our area.
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While we mixed the ptarmigan and spruce grouse in this recipe, feel free to use it with just one type of bird. Alternatively, substitute partridge if that's what's available in your neck of the woods.
After my son cleaned and gutted the birds, he cut them up into one-inch chunks. And then I stepped in to finish up.
I cooked this ptarmigan stew recipe on our propane hotplate. It was just too hot here a couple of weeks ago to build a fire in our stove. However, this is a perfect recipe to simmer away in a cast iron dutch oven on a woodstove.
Related: How to Butcher a Chicken at Home
Hunting and Cleaning Ptarmigan
Depending on where you live, the Ptarmigan will prefer different terrain and altitudes. In our area of the Canadian north, they hang out near the edges of pathways and roadways during the winter and tend to migrate to higher altitudes during the summer months.
When hunting Ptarmigan it's important to remember they tend to gather in flocks for protection during the winter months. The flocks in our area will range from 2 - 12 birds at a time. This means that if you spot one in the winter months, there's almost certainly more nearby.
Also, Ptarmigan aren't exactly the smartest birds around. In fact, they might be the dumbest (but tastiest) birds we have this far north. I once witnessed a friend of ours accidentally spook a Ptarmigan, then headbutt and kill it with his snowmobile helmet when the bird flew straight into his face. These characteristics make it relatively easy to shoot several birds for your stew.
For this stew, we only used the breast meat from the birds. The breasts are pretty simple to remove from the body, but you might prefer to use the whole bird. If you haven't cleaned a bird before, check out the Alaska government's one-pager on how to field dress a Grouse or Ptarmigan.
Homemade Ptarmigan Stew Recipe
- 10 Ptarmigan breasts (5 birds)
- 4 Spruce Grouse breasts (2 birds)
- 4 Tbsp flour
- 1 Tsp salt
- 1 Tsp black pepper
- 3 large cloves of garlic, crushed
- 1.5 large red onions, diced
- 4 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- 6 cups white potatoes, chopped, skin-on
- 3 cups diced carrots
- 3 cups diced sweet potatoes
- 1 cup fresh or frozen green peas
- 5 cups (or 2 large cartons) low-sodium chicken broth
- 14 ounce can diced tomatoes
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 Tsp celery seed or 3 stalks of fresh celery
- 1 Tsp poultry seasoning
- ¼ Tsp crushed red pepper/cayenne pepper
- 2 Tbsp dried crushed rosemary
- ½ Tsp cinnamon
- 1 Tbsp apple cider vinegar
- In a large dutch oven, saute onions and garlic in 2 tbsps extra virgin olive oil for about 5 minutes
- In a mixing bowl, coat ptarmigan and grouse pieces in flour, salt and pepper
- Add 2 tbsp olive oil to onion and garlic mixture
- Place meat pieces in the stockpot with onion and garlic. Brown quickly on all sides.
- Add all other ingredients
- Simmer over low heat, stirring occasionally
- Let simmer for about an hour over low heat, or until the potatoes are soft.