Getting the Most Out of your Game Meat

This blog post is well overdue. I’ve heard time and time again that people think they don’t like wild game, but in reality they’re eating an overcooked or ill-prepared dish. The truth is wild game is “game-y” but that doesn’t necessarily need to be a bad thing. Game is game. It’s hunted meat. It’s composed of what was an animal that foraged around its whole life for its food and hasn’t been fed grains like commercial meats. When cooked properly the true taste of venison, wild turkey, or whatever game you’re bringing home and cooking up is and will taste amazing if you follow these tips listed below.

It starts in the field…

Getting the most out of your game starts the moment you have success in the field. Whether you’re hunting big game like elk or whitetail or waterfowl or even small game, one thing remains the same: it’s very important to take care of the animal and process it in a timely manner. It is important to field dress your deer as soon as you can to help to cool the meat and prevent spoiling or contamination. Field dressing, or “gutting,” refers to removing all of the internal organs from the deer. Even in the cold months, field dressing in a timely manner applies.

After you’ve finished field dressing, it’s time to transport your game back home or wherever you plan to process it. Avoid letting dirt, sticks, leaves, and other debris come in contact with the meat. Once you get home, rinse the meat thoroughly and store in a temperature controlled environment. After that, people have their personal preference on butchering and aging the meat, so I wont get into this subject any further. But, I will say if you use a butcher to process the meat for you, use a reputable one that cleans their knives between animals and ensures you get back your own game. (Sadly, that is a thing). Overall the main principle here is, don’t let your animal sit around all day while you celebrate your success in the field, take care of the animal first then party on.

Now it’s time to cook

So the game meat is in your freezer, now what? I could go on about this part of the blog for days, but I’ll try to keep it short. You’ve heard this one time and time again, but it stands true: it’s all in how you cook it. In other words, all of the steps you make during the cooking process are going to affect your results. Game meat needs to be treated with respect, but I’m here to help.

Almost every animal and cut is a little different so we’re going to stick to these principles:

  • Temperature: Watch the temperature closely when cooking. I cannot stress this one enough. Since game meat typically has a lower fat content, it can lose its moisture quickly. Overcooked game will lead to dry and tough dinner. A meat thermometer is your best friend. For cuts like tenderloins and backstraps, it’s best to cook them on very high heat for a short period of time. (And do not forget to let the steaks rest prior to cutting!) If it’s a tougher cut, cook the meat low and slow with a liquid to help it from drying out. Crockpots or Dutch ovens are great tools when using this method. Higher quality cuts are best
  • Cook with an Acid: acids naturally tenderize so you’ll always see me using ingredients that have a high acidity in my recipes. For example: vinegars, Worcestershire sauce, soy sauce, and citrus have a high acidity. These make great additions to marinades.
  • High Quality Ingredients: Use high quality seasonings and fresh herbs that compliment the gamey flavor or your game.
  • Brining: This one I’ll admit I wish I tried well before I did. It’s an underrated process that adds a ton of moisture with little to no work. For my favorite quick brine you only need water, sugar and salt! To add more flavor to your brine, add aromatics like garlic or bay leaves.
  • Adding a Fat Source: this one has a time and a place, but adding fat to otherwise lean game adds a ton of moisture and flavor.
Blackened Venison and Shrimp Alfredo

I hope the tips and tricks from this blog set you up for success when you cook with game meat. Once you start practicing these methods, cooking with game will be a breeze and people wont believe you when you say “this is venison” or “this is wild duck.” This entire website is full of wild game recipes hand crafted by me and are fit for any level cook.

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