How to Cook Wild Game Meat

Learn how to cook wild game meat for the best results, with five recipes for big and small game and wild fowl.

| February 2015

Wild game is richer in flavor and lower in fat and calories than domestic meat, but cooking it successfully can be a challenge. With the step-by-step instructions in Dressing & Cooking Wild Game (Voyageur Press, 2014), by Teresa Marrone, you can ensure great-tasting dishes after every hunting expedition, from properly field dressing your game to choosing a preparation that suits it. The following excerpt is from “Big Game Recipes.”

Big-game meat, if cooked properly, is even tastier than choice beef. And because it’s leaner than beef, it also has fewer calories. But the lean meat can become tough and dry if cooked incorrectly.

To make sure big-game meat doesn’t dry out, cook it with moist heat or keep it on the rare side. One exception is bear meat. Always cook it thoroughly, like pork, because bears may carry trichinosis.

The external fat of big game is strong-tasting and tallow, so remove it before cooking. To tenderize tough cuts, marinate them in a mixture of oil and wine, or in a packaged beef marinade.

Most recipes for deer work equally well for antelope, elk, and moose. Generally, antelope and elk meat is finer-grained than deer and moose. Of the antlered animals, elk probably tastes most like beef; antelope, least like it. Bear meat is stronger, darker, and coarser than other big game, and is usually prepared with more seasoning.

How good the meat tastes, however, depends less on the species of the animal than on its sex and age, the time of year it was killed, and the care you take with it after the kill. A buck taken during the rut, for instance, is usually stronger-tasting and tougher than one taken earlier in the season.

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