When many think of grilling meat, they think of meats such as steak, chicken, hamburgers, or some other common meat. These foods can definitely deliver an exceptional meal, but game meat can bring a backyard grill to another level. Wild game meat doesn’t just taste different from other meats; it needs to be cooked differently as well. Here are 5 tips for cooking great game meat.
Pick the Right Game
All game animals share what’s referred to as a ‘gamey taste’, but beyond that, they have different textures and flavor profiles. For example, deer tends to be fairly gamey. Elk meat tends to be more dense and less gamey tasting. Other animals from alligator to bison will all have their own unique flavors and textures. Try different meats and find recipes that you like. Some flavor profiles will appeal to you more than others.
It’s also important to consider how the animals were raised and what they were fed. Factory farm operations raise animals in confinement where their diet can consist of corn, distillers grains, cornstalks, wheat straw, protein supplements, silage, or whatever is available to the farmers. Grass-fed cattle farms, where animals forage on pasture, come closer to providing a diet similar to wild game which is why the meat of grass-fed has a richer flavor. The difference in wild game diets and factory farm diets are substantial. Nature provides a nutrient rich diet for wild animals. Wild game animals also won’t have the antibiotics, growth hormones, or other food additives that many factory farm animals are fed.
Pick The Right Cut Of Meat
Game tends to be less fatty and more lean than other meats. Unlike with other meats, like marbled beef steaks, the fatty portions of game meat don’t tend to enhance the flavor. It is usually best to cut off what little fat is present.
In general, the cuts are similar to that of other animals. Sirloin, tenderloin, steak, and ribs are still great. Some, like ribs and sirloin, are very tender and juicy. Others, like flank cuts, are tougher but still flavorful. If you’re cooking wild birds, remember that not only are they wild, but they haven’t been raised with growth hormones and all the other practices employed by modern, factory chicken farms. Wild game birds tend to be on the small side. The same cuts of meat are still great choices though. The breasts, thighs, wings, and legs are all worth grilling.
Also, don’t be afraid to experiment with other parts of the animals. Many find organs and even weirder parts like tongues to be delicacies. Various cultures from all over the world treasure the entire animal and have eaten “nose-to-tail” for generations. Organ meats in particular can offer far more nutrients and unique flavors. Organ meat sausage is an exellent way to make these meats more palatable, especially if the flavor is overpowering.
Use a Quality Grill or Smoker
Traditional grills can produce tasty meat, but some people who cook game prefer smokers. When you’re investing in high-quality meats, a high-quality grill is worth investing in as well.
There are different types of smokers. Reverse flow smokers can better distribute the smoke. Vertical smokers are great for grilling a lot of meat at once. There are some that can both smoke meat and grill it in a traditional way. Whatever your preferences, a great smoker will allow you to easily create a memorable dish.
The Sweet Spot Of Flavoring
One of the reasons people love game meat is also the reason why others don’t care for it. Wild game meats have a gamey taste that can seem overpowering to some. There are many ways of flavoring meat that tame its gamey taste. In fact, preparation can make all the difference.
One of the most popular methods is marinating the meat. Some popular marinades are vinegar and spice mixes, various dressings, and tomato paste. For most game, it’s recommended that you let the meat marinade for 3-5 days. This accomplishes many things:
1. It can make the meat more tender.
2. It reduces the gamey taste.
3. It also adds flavor to the meat.
You can also boil your marinade sauce to use it on the finished meat. It’ll double as marinade and basting for additional flavoring.
Don’t Overcook the Meat
Game meat can be sensitive to overcooking. This is related to how little fat it contains. It will dry out more easily than other meat, thereby losing its flavor and texture. It will generally become chewy instead of tender. You should probably aim for cooking medium-rare or rare meat.
If you are an experienced griller, you may be able to determine this by sight. However, keep in mind that different game meats cook differently. A good meat thermometer is a must have tool for grilling. This way you can instantly check at any given moment and catch it when it reaches the right temperature. Remember too, that meat will continue to cook once it’s taken off the grill, so it perfectly fine to take it off slightly before it reaches your preferred doneness.
About The Author:
Annabelle Carter Short is an experienced writer, editor, proofreader, blogger, teacher and photographer. Her husband is an experienced hunter. She likes to cook, sew, and she’s very passionate about healthy food that tastes delicious. She loves designing new healthy recipes in her kitchen.