Upland bird hunting post-season recipe: Blueberry grouse pesto pizza

I love cooking with wild game meats and local ingredients. While I’ve been bird hunting since I was knee-high to a toadstool, I am also at home in the growing community of locavore hunters. Locavores are people who have adopted hunting as a way to eat healthier meats organically produced closer to where they live.

There are two elements to wild game cooking that really appeal to me. First, I cherish reliving a successful hunt through a meal. As I work through the recipe, I relive the day of the hunt; the color of the sky, a dog on point, the flush, and the beauty of the bird’s plumage. I enjoy the success of the hunt one more time through memories. Second, I love the opportunity to experiment with exciting flavors and pairings that wild meats allow. If I can add some locally gathered mushrooms, fruits or vegetables to the mix, then all the better.

The concept for “Blueberry Grouse Pesto Pizza” was born from both my sense of place and my hunger to experiment. A few years back at ruffed grouse camp in Wisconsin’s northwoods, my buddy Matt Kucharski earned top camp chef recognition for poaching grouse breasts in blueberry jelly. Last summer, I read a story about a restaurant serving pheasant and cherry pizza. This summer, I put the two ideas together in a riff on both preparations I verbalized to my wife, Meredith, who promptly helped me execute the idea with the recipe that follows.

Ingredients

  • ¼ cup pesto (enough to cover the crust)
  • ½ a grilled and cubed grouse breast or a set of grouse legs shredded
  • ¼ cup of wild picked Northwoods blueberries
  • ¾ cup of mozzarella cheese
  • ¼ cup of parmesan cheese
  • Pizza crust (I prefer Green Mill’s original)

Pesto preparation

  • 1 ½ cup of basil leaves from our garden (no stems)
  • 2 ½ garlic cloves
  • ¼ cup pine nuts
  • ¾ cup parmesan cheese
  • ½ cup olive oil

Place ingredients in food processor and slowly drizzle olive oil until you reach a thin paste texture.

Pizza Preparation

1. Preheat oven according to crust instructions (425 degrees).

2. Spread pesto over crust.

3. Evenly spread grouse meat and blueberries over the pizza.

4. Cover with mozzarella cheese.

5. Bake according to crust thickness (8 to 12 minutes).

6. Sprinkle parmesan cheese.

7. Bake an addition 1 to 2 minutes until parmesan cheese melts.

Bob St.Pierre is Pheasants Forever & Quail Forever’s vice president of marketing. Follow Bob on Twitter @BobStPierre. The organization’s 2017 Pheasants Fest and Quail Classic is scheduled Feb. 17-19 at the Minneapolis Convention Center.

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