Cooking tips – how to cook wild game?

Don’t let the “wild” part fool you – or scare you.

Meat is meat – whether it came from a feed lot or a wooded lot – and what a shame to let a freezer full of deer, elk, turkey or some other form of game go to waste simply because you believed there was some great mystery surrounding the cooking process, or thought you had to be a master chef to make it taste good.

There isn’t any mystery. A lot of opinion, yes! But mystery? No.

Around home here I probably haven’t spent a hundred dollars on grocery-store meat in the past year, except the lunch meat I keep on hand. Our meat supply is a solid 90% wild: deer, wild hog, squirrel, turkey…although I admit I’m not crazy about wild turkey. A fair share of that comes by way of our taxidermy shop.

I understand some folks are squeamish when it comes to eating or cooking wild game. My mother was one of them. I stopped giving her venison jerky when I discovered she used it for dog treats. On that subject, my mother raised beef but wouldn’t butcher any of her cattle for her own purposes. She chose to buy her meat at the grocery store rather than take advantage of all that delicious free range beef she had in her own pasture.

I think some cooks (mostly women) look at wild game in that light. Some of my best friends over the years have been cows, pigs and chickens – things the typical non-vegetarian American eats guilt free on a daily basis. But ask that same person to contribute to the slaughter and oral consumption of Bambi or Thumper? Suddenly they take issue.

Cooking tips   how to cook wild game?

Why a person can cook and eat beef (pork, lamb, chicken, fish) but not wild game is beyond me. Personally, I think it’s a rather hypocritical point of view. Meat is meat. Regardless of where it came from, it used to be a cute little baby animal.

All in all we believe cooking wild game is healthier for the human body than processed, feed-lot meat. I am searching for documentation to prove that – if you know where it is I’d appreciate you sending the link so I can post it here. In any event, I’d rather eat meat that comes from a clean, natural environment than a feed lot situation where the animal lived in filth and confinement being force fed chemical additives, medications and growth hormones prior to being slaughtered.

Chriss and I would also rather butcher our own when ever possible, or take one to a well-known local butcher shop, rather than eat meat that has been handled God knows where by only God knows who. There’s really no mystery to butchering, either – just keep some sharp knives on hand and a work from a clean surface that you wipe down often with bleach-water.

Venison Will Substitute Anywhere You Use Beef

When we butcher a deer, we save out the good steaks, some lesser quality steaks for fajitas, a few fat roasts (including the neck!), then the rest we usually grind up, both course (for chili as an example) and less-course to use as hamburger.

I will use ground deer in any recipe calling for ground beef. In fact I have become so accustomed to the rich flavor of venison, that beef hamburger is *bla* in comparison.

I also make about 50% of our ground meat in to home made sausage which again, is not nearly as mysterious to make as you may have been lead to believe. I invented my own recipe for it years ago. And sausage in this house, whether from deer or pork, is also treated nearly across the board as hamburger. Trade a pound of sausage for a pound of hamburger the next time you cook a pot of spaghetti and see if you don’t agree it’s great!

The point is, if you have a deer and aren’t sure what to do with it – cut off the steaks that look yummy and grind up the rest, it won’t go to waste. Use ground venison in your chili, stew, spaghetti, Hamburger Helper, casseroles, and in any other way you would ordinarily use ground beef. The flavor will be richer, plus there will be a lot less fat.

Just Learn By Doing!

My advice is just dive in. Experiment. Cooking wild game is just cooking. Don’t let it intimidate you.

As a basic rule of thumb to get you rolling, treat big game like beef and small game like chicken.

You will just have to try your own hand at things. Some like to cook their wild game in gourmet fashion and that is OK too, in fact I hope someone will submit a few of those recipes because I don’t know any but would be anxious to try them! But for feeding your family on an average, every day basis – wild game cooks up just like domestic meat.

Also, if you are in the market for a recipe that isn’t yet on here, I suggest you bop on over to Cooking with Susie Q located at Bowhunting.net. She really knows her stuff when it comes to cooking wild game!

In short, there are a lot of great books and websites out there about cooking wild game, but you don’t have to be a master chef to create some terrific meals. Have fun experimenting with the flavors your family enjoys most, and substituting your wild game in place of the domestic cuts of meat you traditionally use.

The only other thing I have to say here is that one should not expect their wild game to taste like domestic meat. Venison tastes like venison just like beef tastes like beef. If you expect your wild meat to taste like domestic meat you will be in for a (delicious!) surprise.

I believe in time you will come to appreciate the rich wild flavor over the bland super-market cuts you’ve been using as long as you can remember to appreciate the fact you are not eating feed lot raised pork and beef. Cooking wild game means you are cooking a whole different type of meat…

…but it also tastes oh so good!

Remember, an army marches on its stomach: this great nation was won on hunters bringing home native meats! Think of what it can do for your family now!