Peanut and Soy Braised Sandhill Crane Recipe

Peanut and Soy Braised Sandhill Crane Recipe

  • Course

    Main

  • Serves

    4+
Chef’s notes

I got a chance to experience the sandhill crane migration in west Texas this season, and the intensity of their calls made me question whether I was hunting birds or dinosaurs. These giant cranes are known as “ribeye of the sky” because of their delicious breast meat. When we shot a couple over a peanut field, I wanted to find a way to incorporate the peanuts in a recipe made specifically for the legs.

In comparison to the tender breast meat, it’s amazing how tough and dry a sandhill crane’s legs can be. They’re very similar to a pheasant, as the calf muscles have dozens of tiny tendons and bones that are not edible. The best way to tenderize them is to cook low and slow. You’ll want the legs to almost be fully submerged, so the amount of liquid needed will vary.

You can cook the crane legs in a crockpot where the oval shape helps them lay flat, or braise in a large dutch oven. I chose the latter and ended up doubling the amount of liquid called for because the long legs barely fit in my round dutch oven. To solve the issue, I recommend cutting the joint to separate the calves and thighs so that they fit in your pot. For simplicity purposes, you can use just the thighs and save the calves for stock, but if you keep the whole leg you will need to shred the meat and pick out the bones.

Ingredients

  • 3 – 4 lb. bone in sandhill crane legs (3-4 birds)
  • Oil for cooking
  • 1 bunch green onions, roughly chopped (reserve tops for garnish)
  • 4 garlic cloves, smashed with back of knife or mortar and pestle
  • 1” knob of fresh ginger, minced
  • 10 oz. fresh shiitake mushrooms
  • 1/2 cup rice wine vinegar
  • 3/4 cup ponzu or light soy sauce
  • 3 cup stock, extra if needed
  • 2 tbsp. honey
  • 2 tbsp. peanut butter
  • 1/4 cup peanuts
  • Cilantro

Also works with

Goose legs

Preparation

  1. Preheat oven to 300 degrees.
  2. Prep the meat by patting very dry with paper towels. If keeping the calves, cut in half at the joint so that they fit in your dutch oven/pot.
  3. Heat a tbsp. of cooking oil in a large dutch oven over high heat. Brown the thighs on each side, working in batches as necessary. Remove, drizzle in another tablespoon of oil, and add the mushrooms. Sauté for several minutes until they begin to brown and add garlic, ginger and green onions. Cook for an additional minute until fragrant and pour in the vinegar to deglaze, scraping up bits at the bottom. Pour in the soy sauce, stock, honey, and peanut butter. Stir until the peanut butter is dissolved and bring to a simmer.
  4. Return the crane thighs to the pot, making sure there is enough liquid to cover most of the meat. Cover with a lid and transfer directly to the oven. Allow the thighs to braise for several hours until meat begins to slide off bones (4+ hours). Check periodically. If low on liquids, add more stock as necessary to keep from drying out. If there is too much liquid, remove the lid towards end of cooking to reduce.
  5. To serve, sprinkle with peanuts and garnish with green onion tops and fresh cilantro.
Chef’s notes

I got a chance to experience the sandhill crane migration in west Texas this season, and the intensity of their calls made me question whether I was hunting birds or dinosaurs. These giant cranes are known as “ribeye of the sky” because of their delicious breast meat. When we shot a couple over a peanut field, I wanted to find a way to incorporate the peanuts in a recipe made specifically for the legs.

In comparison to the tender breast meat, it’s amazing how tough and dry a sandhill crane’s legs can be. They’re very similar to a pheasant, as the calf muscles have dozens of tiny tendons and bones that are not edible. The best way to tenderize them is to cook low and slow. You’ll want the legs to almost be fully submerged, so the amount of liquid needed will vary.

You can cook the crane legs in a crockpot where the oval shape helps them lay flat, or braise in a large dutch oven. I chose the latter and ended up doubling the amount of liquid called for because the long legs barely fit in my round dutch oven. To solve the issue, I recommend cutting the joint to separate the calves and thighs so that they fit in your pot. For simplicity purposes, you can use just the thighs and save the calves for stock, but if you keep the whole leg you will need to shred the meat and pick out the bones.

Ingredients

  • 3 – 4 lb. bone in sandhill crane legs (3-4 birds)
  • Oil for cooking
  • 1 bunch green onions, roughly chopped (reserve tops for garnish)
  • 4 garlic cloves, smashed with back of knife or mortar and pestle
  • 1” knob of fresh ginger, minced
  • 10 oz. fresh shiitake mushrooms
  • 1/2 cup rice wine vinegar
  • 3/4 cup ponzu or light soy sauce
  • 3 cup stock, extra if needed
  • 2 tbsp. honey
  • 2 tbsp. peanut butter
  • 1/4 cup peanuts
  • Cilantro

Also works with

Goose legs

Preparation

  1. Preheat oven to 300 degrees.
  2. Prep the meat by patting very dry with paper towels. If keeping the calves, cut in half at the joint so that they fit in your dutch oven/pot.
  3. Heat a tbsp. of cooking oil in a large dutch oven over high heat. Brown the thighs on each side, working in batches as necessary. Remove, drizzle in another tablespoon of oil, and add the mushrooms. Sauté for several minutes until they begin to brown and add garlic, ginger and green onions. Cook for an additional minute until fragrant and pour in the vinegar to deglaze, scraping up bits at the bottom. Pour in the soy sauce, stock, honey, and peanut butter. Stir until the peanut butter is dissolved and bring to a simmer.
  4. Return the crane thighs to the pot, making sure there is enough liquid to cover most of the meat. Cover with a lid and transfer directly to the oven. Allow the thighs to braise for several hours until meat begins to slide off bones (4+ hours). Check periodically. If low on liquids, add more stock as necessary to keep from drying out. If there is too much liquid, remove the lid towards end of cooking to reduce.
  5. To serve, sprinkle with peanuts and garnish with green onion tops and fresh cilantro.
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Save this recipe

Peanut and Soy Braised Sandhill Crane Recipe

Recipe by: Danielle Prewett
Peanut and Soy Braised Sandhill Crane Recipe
  • Course

    Main

  • Serves

    4+
Chef’s notes

I got a chance to experience the sandhill crane migration in west Texas this season, and the intensity of their calls made me question whether I was hunting birds or dinosaurs. These giant cranes are known as “ribeye of the sky” because of their delicious breast meat. When we shot a couple over a peanut field, I wanted to find a way to incorporate the peanuts in a recipe made specifically for the legs.

In comparison to the tender breast meat, it’s amazing how tough and dry a sandhill crane’s legs can be. They’re very similar to a pheasant, as the calf muscles have dozens of tiny tendons and bones that are not edible. The best way to tenderize them is to cook low and slow. You’ll want the legs to almost be fully submerged, so the amount of liquid needed will vary.

You can cook the crane legs in a crockpot where the oval shape helps them lay flat, or braise in a large dutch oven. I chose the latter and ended up doubling the amount of liquid called for because the long legs barely fit in my round dutch oven. To solve the issue, I recommend cutting the joint to separate the calves and thighs so that they fit in your pot. For simplicity purposes, you can use just the thighs and save the calves for stock, but if you keep the whole leg you will need to shred the meat and pick out the bones.

Ingredients

  • 3 – 4 lb. bone in sandhill crane legs (3-4 birds)
  • Oil for cooking
  • 1 bunch green onions, roughly chopped (reserve tops for garnish)
  • 4 garlic cloves, smashed with back of knife or mortar and pestle
  • 1” knob of fresh ginger, minced
  • 10 oz. fresh shiitake mushrooms
  • 1/2 cup rice wine vinegar
  • 3/4 cup ponzu or light soy sauce
  • 3 cup stock, extra if needed
  • 2 tbsp. honey
  • 2 tbsp. peanut butter
  • 1/4 cup peanuts
  • Cilantro

Also works with

Goose legs

Preparation

  1. Preheat oven to 300 degrees.
  2. Prep the meat by patting very dry with paper towels. If keeping the calves, cut in half at the joint so that they fit in your dutch oven/pot.
  3. Heat a tbsp. of cooking oil in a large dutch oven over high heat. Brown the thighs on each side, working in batches as necessary. Remove, drizzle in another tablespoon of oil, and add the mushrooms. Sauté for several minutes until they begin to brown and add garlic, ginger and green onions. Cook for an additional minute until fragrant and pour in the vinegar to deglaze, scraping up bits at the bottom. Pour in the soy sauce, stock, honey, and peanut butter. Stir until the peanut butter is dissolved and bring to a simmer.
  4. Return the crane thighs to the pot, making sure there is enough liquid to cover most of the meat. Cover with a lid and transfer directly to the oven. Allow the thighs to braise for several hours until meat begins to slide off bones (4+ hours). Check periodically. If low on liquids, add more stock as necessary to keep from drying out. If there is too much liquid, remove the lid towards end of cooking to reduce.
  5. To serve, sprinkle with peanuts and garnish with green onion tops and fresh cilantro.