Tips in Using Wild Game

Most wild game is wonderfully lean and flavorful, but there are some nuances in cooking it that are helpful to keep in mind when perusing or inventing your own wild game recipes.

Wild Game Recipes

Cut down on the gamey flavor by soaking in milk.

Game animals have a different flavor than their domestic counterparts. Some call it “gaminess,” some call it extra flavor. Either way, an animal that eats mostly nuts, acorns and grains will taste the best. Animals that eat sludge will taste, well, pretty sludgy. (If you’ve ever had to eat a spoonbill or diver duck you know what I’m talking about.) Animals that are young or female (or young and female) will taste the best and have a slightly higher fat content. Regardless, you can cut the gaminess of any meat by soaking it first in some milk. This is just like the trick to make fish unfishy.

Always use a binder when working with ground meat.

Wild game is especially lean, so when using ground meat (for, say, meatloaf or hamburgers) always include a binder; I typically go with an egg. You can also include rice or breadcrumbs, but in my experience an egg by itself usually does the trick.

Stick with the tenderloin for steak

It is possible to make a good steak from venison, elk, buffalo, or the like, but make sure the cut of meat you are eating is the tenderloin, otherwise you run the risk of eating a very tough, dry piece of meat.

Keep it low and slow

If you are using any shoulder meat, stew meat or even round steaks, cooking it low and slow by braising or stewing will keep your kill tender and juicy. Pan searing it first also adds a nice flavor.

Use lean recipes.

If you’re going to substitute wild game into a recipe that calls for beef (or chicken if you are using wild turkey or something), it works best when you are using recipes that call for 94% lean ground beef (or boneless skinless chicken breast). These recipes will already have accounted for keeping the meat moist and tender, with binders (if ground), and with cooking times, liquids, etc.

Brine it!

Brining your meat for at least four hours, but preferably overnight, will almost always yield tender and juicy results, and will mellow out the gaminess to boot. This works especially well with fowl and hare.

When in doubt, wrap it in bacon

I am not a big bacon person, but there is something to be said for the way it keeps wild game juicy and fatty-tasting. This is why a lot of deer processors will wrap the filets in bacon and why the go-to recipe for dove is to stick a jalapeno up its ass and wrap it in bacon before grilling.