Sandhill Crane Nuggets

  The birds depicted in this picture are  called Sandhill Cranes and I just had one for dinner tonight. The meat is often called “ribeye-in-the-sky” and it was VERY unexpectedly beef like.

 My husband cut the breast up into nuggets and wrapped  them in bacon and grilled them. It was unbelievably good, reddish-brown meat (texture, color and taste) was a LOT like a bacon wrapped filet mignon. And I didn’t even know they could be hunted – go figure . . .

 Tip #1:  If you already know that the fowl you have bagged has been eating fish, go ahead and feed it to the dogs.  It’s not worth fixing and fretting over to try and make an edible meal out of it for human consumption.  However, if you are so inclined to try to make it work out for the better, the only thing I can suggest that you can do is to soak it in milk over night.  This definitely works for any wild game that might have that gamely flavor that most people have come to dislike.  We got lucky with the bird that we ended up having for dinner, it had primarily been feeding on grain which makes for a very nice tender tasty meat – think grain fed beef.

Recipe:

  • Crane Breasts (cleaned, de-feathered and silver skin removed)
  • Bacon
  • Seasoning
  • Toothpicks

  Instructions:

After removing the silver skin surrounding the breast (which is the only part of this bird worth dressing), cut into bite size morsels, approximately 2″x 1″.  Season meat morsels with your favorite seasons (salt, pepper, garlic powder etc.  We usually use Cavenders All Purpose Greek Seasoning).  Remove bacon strips from packaging and cut the entire batch of bacon in 1/2.  Wrap each bird morsel with 1/2 a strip of bacon and secure with a toothpick.  Place each bacon wrapped nugget onto a hot grill cook until done.  Approximately 10  minutes, turning to make sure all is cooked through.  A good rule of thumb in this situation is, if the bacon is crispy on the outside, the meat should be done on the inside.  Remove from grill, serve and Enjoy!

Note:  If in doubt, cut a few of the morsels in 1/2 to make sure the meat is cooked through.  This particular bird is amazing beef like and if a medium/medium rare is desired just make sure the inside temperature reaches at least the minimum temperature necessary to kill any unwanted bacteria or diseases.  Just remember these are small pieces of meat, so don’t over cook them either.

USDA Recommended Safe Minimum Internal Temperatures

  • Steaks & Roasts – 145 °F
  • Fish – 145 °F
  • Pork – 160 °F
  • Ground Beef – 160 °F
  • Egg Dishes – 160 °F
  • Chicken Breasts – 165 °F
  • Whole Poultry – 165 °F

9 responses to “Sandhill Crane Nuggets

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  2. Greetings!!! Thanks a lot for this. I have always wanted to write in my article something like that.

  3. Found myself with a sandhill crane to cook. Your recipe is best I’ve found. Very similar to the one I use for dove, duck or goose breast except I add chunk of onion or jalapeno pepper stuffed with cream cheese to each chunk before I wrap in bacon and skewer. Often fix breasts for large party then I use wire baskets used for grilling. To prepare duck or goose I slice breast into 3/4 inches slices. I put layer of bacon strips, a layer slices, layer sliced onion and green peppers or stuffed jalapeno sliced, a layer of slices and top with layer on bacon. Close wire basket. Sear over HOT coals and flip basket when bacon is crisp ( Coals will flare up but that’s okay.) sear other side then shut lid on grill and cook for 10-15 minutes. Of course serve medium rare. :-) Dove only have one closely packed layer with onion or pepper in each breast cavity. I can usually fit 35-40 doves in a basket. After birds rests just flip the whole works unto a serving platter and enjoy!

  4. Thanks Donna – and Thanks even MORE for the great ideas for duck and goose. My husband used to hunt goose a lot and he used the same “recipe” on his duck and geese as we used on the crane, so we were pretty sure this would also turn out just as good!
    Bacon makes EVERYTHING taste better! :-)

  5. The best chili in the world is Crane chile…..take 4 half breast and grind them up and add one lb of ground hamburger meat and and season just as you were making chili. You’ll never eat chili again unless its crane chili, this has been proven by my four teenagers and husband, father and grandparents.

  6. I would like you ladies to ask your husbands (or yourself) if they know where you can buy lead bb’s or 2′s. I live in Okla and it is legal to shoot lead shot at cranes. I have an old 1964 browning magnum that I love to shoot but I won’t shoot hard shot in it. I just shot the last of my super X 4 shot this evening. We live near the Great Salt Plains Refuge and we are covered up with cranes. They love the no till crops (beans, milo, etc).
    catfish@kanokla.net

  7. Hi! We are publishing a book and we like this picture of the sand hill cranes. We are trying to get permission from the photographer to use this picture in our book. Did you take the photo? If so, would you be willing to give us permission to use it? We would of course give you or the photographer credit in our book.
    Thank you!
    Cindy

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