Learn how to make delicious sandhill crane smoked bacon with a two-time Dove Cookoff World Champion.
In many areas of the country, sandhill cranes are an unusual game bird. A lot of folks have never hunted them, and you can bet a lot have never dined on them, either. Here’s a recipe for sandhill crane bacon that will make you want to try this unique bird.
Johnathan O’Dell is a small-game biologist with the Arizona Game and Fish Department. He has also achieved a tree squirrel slam, bagging all eight U.S. species of squirrel, as well as being a two-time Dove Cookoff World Champion. In short, he’s a small-game expert in both hunting and cooking.
O’Dell shows you how to create a simple, yet tasty cure for crane breasts and then how to smoke them so they’re mouth-watering delicious.
O’Dell’s curing recipe couldn’t be any simpler. It’s one part brown sugar and one part Tender Quick curing mix. He rubs the cure into the crane breasts and then sticks them in the refrigerator for 10-12 hours.
After the breasts have cured in the fridge for the allotted time, he rinses them off under a faucet. After patting them dry, he sprinkles with pepper and places them on a kettle smoker using aromatic pecan wood to add a bit of sweet flavor to the meat. He smokes to a final temperature of around 140-150 degrees.
Once finished and at the proper temperature, O’Dell slices the crane breasts very thinly across the muscle grain and serves. It’s just that easy.
O’Dell says that this same recipe is great on other dark-meat birds, such as duck and goose.
Now you have no reason not to go out and hunt a few sandhill cranes.
Like what you see here? You can read more great articles by David Smith at his Facebook page, Stumpjack Outdoors.