This past weekend, I traded the prairies for the mountains and hopped the train to Whitefish, Montana. I went to visit Molly, a dear friend of mine, and her wonderful family to celebrate her daughter’s first birthday. I also went for some fresh pine-scented mountain air, to feel revived and refreshed in the way only a good trip away from home can do.
Oh, and yes, I went to eat.
Everything tastes better in the mountains of Montana. Seriously. I don’t know if it’s the altitude, the brisk mornings, the fresh air, or the fact that I typically spend all day hiking and building up a ravenous appetite, but many of my most memorable tastes come from MT.
(That's Ben and I in Glacier.)
The best cup of coffee I’ve ever had in my life was after a night of tent camping on a chilly summer morning at a little hippie mountain café in Big Sky (name of café now forgotten). The best pie I’ve ever tasted was on another camping trip to Glacier at Park Café in St. Mary’s – still the standard by which my husband and I compare every other slice. The best milkshake was a huckleberry milkshake this past weekend at The Huckleberry Patch in Hungry Horse after a hike in Glacier with my 18 lb baby strapped to me. That milkshake was manna from heaven. Just the memory of it makes me swoon.
Our trip was short and sweet. Even the 12 hr train ride proved to be enjoyable – or as enjoyable as it could be with a teething baby. While I was away, I was actually on the radio (ah, the magic of pre-recording)! My buddy Doug and I talked about grouse – and in all my travel preparations, I neglected to get a post up with the recipe we talked about. Better late than never? Click here to hear the radio clip (Titled Sept. 19 - Part #4) and check out this recipe. With the grouse numbers down this year, you’ll be working up an appetite during your grouse hunt – but your dinner will taste all the better because of it.
Post-script: the Big Sky coffee place was called The Huckleberry Cafe, although I think it's in a new location now compared to when we were there.
Grouse with Tomatoes and Rosemary
Adapted from Savoring the Seasons by Lucia Watson, it's one of my favorite ways to prepare grouse. Of course, chicken could be the non-game substitute, although I'm willing to bet it would work great with rabbit too.
6 or 8 grouse breasts
Kosher salt and freshly cracked pepper
3 Tbls olive oil
2 cloves minced garlic
1 small red onion, chopped
1 cup dry red wine (merlot, cabernet, etc)
1 cup chicken broth
2 sprigs fresh rosemary
2 fresh tomatoes, diced or 1 14-oz. can diced tomatoes
2 Tablespoons butter
Rinse grouse, pat dry, season generously with salt and pepper. Heat oil in large skillet and brown the grouse (no need to cook through, just brown the outside). Add garlic and onion, saute for one minute. Add wine, broth, rosemary, and tomatoes, cover the skillet, and simmer over low heat until grouse is cooked through (about 20 mins). Remove rosemary sprigs and discard. Remove grouse and set on platter (can put in 200 degree oven to keep warm). Bring the remaining liquid to a boil and reduce by half, about 15 minutes. Turn off heat, whisk in butter, and serve grouse drizzled with sauce.