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Ptarmigan With Cream Gravy

Formerly ptarmigan was associated with the autumn hunting season, but thanks to our freezers we can enjoy these delicious game birds all winter long. Ptarmigan is one of the true delicacies of the Norwegian kitchen. Traditionally they are served in a cream gravy.

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4 ptarmigans
(CHEFS TIP: - substitute ptarmigans with another game bird like grouse or with chicken if ptarmigans are not available)
4 thin slices of fat back, preferably unsalted
2 tsp salt
½ tsp pepper
Gizzard, heart and liver
Butter for browning
1 cup (250 ml) water
1 cup (250 ml) milk
¾ cup (200 ml) sour cream or crème fraiche
1-2 tbsp currant or rowan jelly


1. Ptarmigans are usually sold gutted and cleaned. Dry the insides and rub with salt and pepper. Carefully loosen skin on the breast and place the fat between the skin and meat. Truss the birds and brown them evenly in the butter with the giblets.

2. Pour over boiling water and milk, and simmer covered over low heat for about 45 minutes or until tender dependent on the age of the birds and how long they have hung.

3. Remove ptarmigans from pan and cut them in two along breast and backbone. Keep warm.

4. Mash the liver to a paste and stir it into the stock with the sour cream or crème fraiche. Simmer gravy uncovered until it is slightly thickened, or thicken with cornstarch. Season to taste with salt, pepper and jelly.

5. Serve ptarmigans with the gravy, brussels sprouts or Russian peas, potatoes and rowan jelly or cranberry sauce.

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