“Katsu” means cutlet in Japanese, and it is equivalent to German schnitzel. Meat — typically pork or chicken — is breaded in Panko, deep fried and served in bento box lunches. Sharp-tailed grouse worked surprisingly well as katsu, as long as you don’t overcook it.
Serve sharpies pink in the center; this bird turns gray easily, and its flavor goes downhill with it. I kept the meat cold until the last minute, and as the breaded pieces hit the hot oil, the Panko quickly browned while the inside stayed cool enough that it didn’t overcook. The meat came out warm, juicy and rosy. About medium, or 140-145 degrees, is perfect with sharptails.
If you can’t find bottled tonkatsu sauce, make your own. Look for a recipe online: It’s little more than a mixture of ketchup, Worcestershire sauce, oyster sauce and sugar. Give this one a try: https://www.justonecookbook.com/tonkatsu-sauce-recipe/
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cooking Time: 30 minutes
• 2 grouse breasts and 2 grouse legs (skin on or skin off)
• 1 large egg
• ⅓ cup of all-purpose flour
• 1½ cup of Panko breadcrumbs
• Kosher salt, to taste
• Freshly cracked pepper, to taste
• Vegetable oil for frying
• Bottled tonkatsu sauce, to taste
• Freshly chopped green onion, for garnish
• Cooked jasmine white rice
• Braised or pickled vegetables
1. Season grouse pieces with salt. In a shallow bowl, beat the egg until all whites are no longer visible, and it begins to form small bubbles. Pour flour into another bowl. In a third bowl, combine Panko breadcrumbs with ¾ teaspoon of kosher salt and freshly cracked pepper to taste.
2. In a medium saucepan or deep skillet, heat 1½ inches of vegetable oil to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. When the temperature approaches 325 degrees, begin breading the grouse: First lightly coat pieces in flour, and then dip in egg and then cover with the Panko mixture.
3. When oil reaches 350 degrees, fry breaded grouse until golden on both sides, flipping halfway through. Do not overcrowd the pan, and fry meat in batches if necessary. Watch the oil temperature carefully, and adjust heat as needed. Drain and rest on a cooling rack. Serve grouse katsu with tonkatsu sauce, rice, chopped green onion and vegetables. Photographed is burdock root kinpira, a Japanese style of braising root vegetables. ■