5 Most Common Game Cooking Mistakes

American Hunter

Now that I am regularly shooting tasty animals it is important not to wreck the meat, either in preparation or in the cooking. American Hunter Magazine outline the 5 most common mistakes:

1. Not Aging the Game First
Unlike domestic animals, wild ones have a rich, variable flavor, because they are often older at death, exercise freely and enjoy a mixed diet. The wild flavors that result from cooking these animals are often described as “gamy.” In Old World Europe, game was hung until it began to rot—a treatment they called mortification—which not only tenderized the meat but heightened the wild, gamy flavor even further.

2. Not Brining or Marinating the Game First
Brining is an old-fashioned technique that involves soaking meat or poultry in a flavorful saltwater solution to enhance its moisture and taste. The proper ratio is 2 tablespoons of salt to 4 cups of water. It is especially good with breast meat and other lean cuts like the loin.

3. Overcooking the Game
The surest way to turn someone off of wild-game to serve it to them overcooked. Because there is less fat in wild animals, the moisture evaporates quickly in the pan, drying out the meat, turning it gray and giving it that “gamy” flavor. White-meat upland birds should not be served rare, but can have a blush of pink in them. The wild ones will be more muscular and will dry out more quickly, so you need to tend to them while they are cooking—basting them, poaching them, doting on them until the very last second.

Dark-meat birds, such as ducks, and red meat game animals like venison must be served no more than medium-rare. Serving it rare is even better. There is no use in eating it otherwise.

4. Cooking it the Wrong Way
In the world of chefs, meat is categorized into first, second and third category cuts. The first category is the leanest and most naturally tender, like the tenderloin. The third category is the toughest, like a shoulder. The cooking method used to cook these cuts varies greatly and is crucial to making the final dish successful. The first category—the loin—must be quickly seared and served.  The third category should be braised in liquid over many hours until the collagen breaks down.

5. Overcompensating
Sometimes we do too much to a dish, when the ingredients should be allowed to speak for themselves. We smother it in cream of mushroom soup or wrap it with jalapeños, cream cheese and bacon—dominating the star of the show.


Hide on pigs

NZ Herald

Rodney Hide is obviously relishing his new role as a columnist. I am enjoying his writing. Today’s Herald column is about the benefits of pigs and meat:

The way to cure a vegetarian is to cook bacon. The smell of sizzling bacon invariably proves irresistible. The sizzle saves having to explain how humans have eaten meat for two million years.

It’s the eating of meat that makes us human. The nutrient-dense meat enabled the human brain to grow and the gut to shrink. Our mammalian metabolism could not support a big gut and a big brain. Something had to give.

Our primate cousins have a large gut and a small brain. Their gut serves as a giant fermentation chamber. The bugs inside digest the leaves and shoots to produce the fatty acids all mammals need. Gorillas get the fat they need from the bugs that digest the plants they eat. We get our fat direct from other animals.

Eating animals enabled our metabolism to support a larger brain. In turn, hunting animals put selective pressure on an ever-larger brain. It was no mean feat bringing down the equivalent of a modern-day deer with just a spear.

We are lucky. Evolution has treated us well. Eating bacon and having a big brain sure beats having to chew grass all day.

Plus bacon helped halt cannibalism in New Zealand…perhaps:

I suspect Captain Cook bringing pigs to New Zealand did more to end cannibalism among Maori than the preaching of missionaries. Pigs are easier to catch and kill than your neighbours.

More importantly eating meat and a high proteinn diet is better for you:

I eat bacon most days. I regard it as a heritage thing. The Greenies would have us pay homage to our ecology: I do so by eating bacon. My health has improved out of sight since I dumped low-fat yoghurt, fruit juice and sugar coated-cereals and loaded up instead with bacon and eggs.

My doctor tells me my blood panel is the best it’s been. I daren’t put her certificate at risk by telling her that I have achieved the turnaround by doing the exact opposite of what the Government and nutritional experts all say.

I favour two million years of successful evolution over politically-appointed, Government-run committees of experts. These committees easily run away from common sense and common experience. They recommend industrially-produced margarine over naturally-made butter. Margarine is engineered gunk. Butter is grass, plus sun, plus a cow. It’s our best health food.

I eat only New Zealand bacon. I like to know my pigs lived as pigs, ate as pigs and aren’t shot through with chemicals. I reckon these pigs taste better and are healthier.

I especially like the wild pig I buy from the South Island. I jumped at the chance to go out with the boys high in the hills above the Awatere River. The sun was bright, the air was clean and the country wild. As Premium Game’s Allan Spencer explained, these pigs don’t survive unless they’re healthy. No vet gets near them.

The only downside to a diet of meat is that if you buy your meat it is expensive…now that I am getting away more and actually killing my own meat it is a whole lot cheaper.

There is only one thing better than eating meat and that is eating meat you have killed, dressed and cured yourself.