Sandhill Crane - Ribeye of the Sky

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With the nickname "ribeye of the sky," sandhill cranes are considered one of the best tasting migratory birds hunted during the waterfowl season in some jurisdictions. Based on the best available science, both the Federal and Provincial Governments have determine that sandhill cranes can be harvested in Alberta without having a longterm negative impact on sandhill crane populations or populations of any other waterfowl species. Like any wild game, do not overcook or the meat will quickly turn tough and dry.

A good marinade enhances the natural flavours of any meat, makes it tender, and helps brown or sear the meat on the grill. Crane cooked medium-rare is ideal, but can be taken to medium—so a meat thermometer is recommended. Aim for 130 to 135°F. The meat will continue to cook when taken off the grill, so let it rest to keep it moist and tender.


  • 2 boneless sandhill crane breasts
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • 2 tbsp soy sauce
  • 2 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
  • juice from 1 lemon
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 tbsp seasoned pepper, such as Montreal Steak Spice
  • 1 tbsp poultry seasoning


  1. Trim breasts of any bruising or shot trauma. The crane can be cut into one-inch cubes for kebabs, or done as a whole breast, like a steak. Make sure the meat comes to room temperature before grilling to allow it to heat through properly.
  2. Combine the olive oil, soy sauce, Worcestershire sauce, lemon juice, garlic, pepper, and poultry seasoning in a sealable bag or plastic container.
  3. Place the meat in the marinade, push out any air and seal. Toss the bag to ensure the marinade covers all surfaces of the crane meat. The meat should marinate at least four hours, and up to 48 hours.
  4. Heat a barbecue grill to 400°F. Remove the crane from the marinade and place it on the grill. Sear each side for about 4 minutes. A larger crane could take 5 to 6 minutes per side. Kebabs will take 2 to 3 minutes per side.
  5. Remove the crane from the grill, wrap in foil, and let it rest 4 minutes before serving.