Cooking Wild Game Animals.. tips or recipes?(Goose, venison, turkey)

Discussion in 'Food & Cooking' started by garrettjames, Jan 2, 2012.

  1. garrettjames

    garrettjames

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    Hi all,  I'm an avid hunter and I'm looking to experiment a little.  My family lacks culinary skills but I've grown up to enjoy casual venison meals and rabbit dishes.. nothing out of the ball park by any means.  Ive never worked under a chef that has used wild game and the few times I've done something it has come out a bit gamey (turkey and goose).  I have a week off for the new years so I'll be waking up early every morning to take my limit of goose and hopefully score a duck or two sometime this season.

    Does anyone have experience working with wild game?  It's a shame that my parents can't cook.. my father, myself and my uncles all hunt various seasons: deer, waterfowl, rabbit, pheasant, and turkey.. generally all of our kills go to the hands of my uncle who's a very talented cook.  But now I'm able to stock fridge and freezer with some hopefully good meat.

    any chance of getting the gameyness out of these foods?
     
  2. chefross

    chefross

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    You eat wild game for its' flavor.

    Wild game tastes "gamey."

    Why is it so many people don't care for that flavor and try to "cook it out?"
     
  3. butzy

    butzy

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    If I can get game, I put it on the menu and it's quite popular

    Impala steak (the good bits)

    Impala in red wine (sort of an impala bourgignon, from the slightly tougher bits)

    Kudu (similar prep as the impala, or I go towards the Flamande style, with beer)

    Rabbit in mustard sauce

    Warthog or bush pig stew

    unfortunately it is hard to come by and expensive (and you can only sell it if you can show the wildlife department that you have paid for your license)

    Wish I could get more of the stuff !!!!
     
  4. pete

    pete Moderator Staff Member

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    I kind of agree with Chefross.  In this day and age of mass produced, flavorless meat and poultry the gaminess of wild game is a nice wake up call for the taste buds and I would never want to "cook the gaminess" out of it.  That said, there are ways lessen the impact of wild games flavor and that is usually done by pairing with foods and flavors that can match its intensity or complement it.  When I am cooking wild game I often pair it with "earthy" flavored foods such as mushrooms, red wine, root vegetables and herbs like rosemary, sage, and/or thyme.  Foods like these can stand up to the flavor of wild game and help to lessen its flavor impact.  It doesn't necessarily "mask" its flavor as much as lessen the intensity by complementing it, if that makes any sense.
     
  5. chef oliver

    chef oliver

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    Game is beautiful thing to cook. I love it. Game meat is so juicy, full of flavor. I love to braise or stew game for hours, that released so much flavour to its own juice and that´s so delicious. I agree with PETE, combination with earthy flavours is priceless. But I love to experiment and combine game with different ingredients and flavours. But game must taste like nature, forest. Using forest herbs, spices and forest fruit is great complement for gaminess. And on the other side, tropical fruit si perfect as well...you can´t never run out of ideas, when you cook game.
     
  6. kyheirloomer

    kyheirloomer

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    Game is bad for you, GarretJames. Best bet is to freeze it, put it in coolers, and ship them down to me for proper disposal. /img/vbsmilies/smilies/wink.gif

    Seriously, it would take an encyclopedia to answer your question. Every game animal is different; indeed, for any animal there are several choices as to how you prep and cook it. If you could focus a little tighter, we could better address your concerns.

    Your uncle is probably your best resource. Why not ask him for some tips; and perhaps spend time in the kitchen with him?

    Meanwhile, here are some random thoughts that you might find useful.

    1. I don't understand what people mean by the word "gamey." Sure, wild animals have stronger flavors than their domestic analogs. That's one of the things that makes them specal. But, as often happens, when the same people who love lamb and mutton complain that venison is gamey, I get lost. To me, lamb is gamey.

         Much of this depends, too, on what the animal has been eating. A bluebill that's been eating fish tastes differently than one that's been eating wild rice. A grain-fed deer is a different animal than one who's been eating red acorns. And so on.

    2. The longer it takes to dress a game animal, the stronger it will taste. And even dressed out, it will get high if you subscribe to the "hanging" theory. Game should be dressed and cooled as soon as possible.

    3. You're in New York, so I'm assuming Canadas, rather than Snows or Blues. Canada Geese are the strongest tasting of that clan, and should be thought of as red meat for cooking purposes. That is, don't cook it more than medium rare, and sauce appropriately. And, while a whole roast goose is really dramatic, there isn't enough meat in the legs, etc. to matter. Most hunters merely breast out the birds.

    4. In all cases, game has less fat than it's domestic analogs. So it's easy to overcook. Watch your heat levels and timing. And, more often than not, bacon is your friend, as it adds the missing fat and keeps the game moist.
     
    Last edited: Jan 2, 2012
  7. chef oliver

    chef oliver

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    Garrett, do not try to get gaminess out of that meat. Do you want to get lamb specific flavour out of lamb? I hope not, because that makes that meat so different and interesting.../img/vbsmilies/smilies/peace.gif
     
  8. kyheirloomer

    kyheirloomer

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    To get you started, here is a recipe to use some of those geese:

    Broiled (or Grilled) Goose Breast with Cumberland Sauce

    Breast out one goose, removing the skin. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and brush with vegetable oil.

    Broil the breasts, 4 inches from the heat, turning once, until desired degree of doneness. Rare will be reached after about five minutes per side.

    Slice the breasts thinly, against the grain, and serve with Cumberland Sauce.

    Cumberland Sauce

    1 orange

    1 lemon

    3 shallots, chopped fine

    1/2 cup currant jelly

    1/4 cup port wine

    1/2 tsp powdered ginger

    Pinch cayenne

    1 tsp Dijon mustard

    Remove the rinds from the orange and lemon with a vegetable peeler, scraping off any of the white pith. Chop the rinds finely and boil five minutes. Drain and set aside.

    Boil shallots in water to cover for one minute. Drain and set aside.

    Squeeze the juice from the orange and one third of the lemon. Put the juices in a small saucepan with the jelly, port, ginger, cayenne, and mustard. Heat until the jelly melts. Add the rinds and shallots.

    Can be used either hot or cold.
     
  9. chefross

    chefross

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    KYH I love Cumberland Sauce with goose. That's something I've done in the past. 

    I cook a lot of wild game here.

    The boss just came back from the Northwest Territories with a beautiful elk and the freezer is filled with all kinds of steaks, chops and what not.

    I use the backstrap as I would filet  and grind my own tougher parts for pates, sausages, and just to have some around for loaf and burgers.

    I cut the meat with pork shoulder or butt.

    Deer hunting season....same thing..

    In the fall the boss buys live pheasants and chukers ( a member of the quail family but bigger ) from a farm down below and have them brought up here and released on the farm where I live.

    Next day the guys go out and hunt the pheasants....and I end up having to pluck, clean, and process them. 

    I do this all year through, and I have lots of experience cooking the meats.

    KYH is correct about the many flavors the game can have.

    Here on the island the meat tastes like garlic and wild onions because that's what we have an abundance of growing here.
     
  10. garrettjames

    garrettjames

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    Thanks guys I appreciate the responses.  I understand that it is silly to cook out the gameyness in wild meat.  It's something that I don't have a problem with.. I like it all.  In my position at work I get to throw specials together so I was kind of thinking in terms of others coming into the restaurant.. how could I cook the meats to interest others that aren't as familiar with game.  You guys have brought up good points with matching flavors and probably the most important thing is to not overcook it.  Ive goose hunted for four years but soley for the fun, giving meat away to family.  The few times I've tried it, I was turned off mainly because of it being much too cooked.  Previous hunting seasons my passion for cooking hasn't been quite as alive as it is now so I'm excited to try it out. 
     
  11. kyheirloomer

    kyheirloomer

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     I love Cumberland Sauce with goose.

    Don't we all, ChefRoss! I provided that recipe both because it's delicious, and simple enough for someone like the OP to prepare. When making it myself, btw, I add some Grand Marnier to the sauce.

    When I was more active as an outdoor writer we just about lived on game and self-harvested fish & seafood. By boys were in their teens, in fact, before they knew what beef and chicken tasted like. And they were disappointed with both.

    At any particular time the freezers would contain venison, rabbit, upland birds of all types, turkey, and all sorts of waterfowl; including puddle ducks, divers, and sea ducks. Sometimes, when my travels were successful, there'd be elk, antelope, and bear as well.  Note the absence of squirrel, though. While I love 'em, Friend Wife thinks of them as rats that live in trees, and refuses to eat them. Alas.

    We still eat a lot of game, here.

     In the fall the boss buys live pheasants and chukers ( a member of the quail family but bigger )

    FWIW, chuker are partridges, rather than quail. Not that that matters on the table; they're one of the tastiest upland birds, IMO, running second only to Ruffed Grouse.

    One advantage of butchering your own is that you get cuts that the processors don't bother with. F'rinstance, the short ribs from that elk would have made a spectacular meal. And the front legs, cut crosswise, make an osso bucco to die for.
     
  12. kyheirloomer

    kyheirloomer

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  13. margcata

    margcata Banned

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    @ Garrett, @ Chefross, @ KY, and All those interested in the thread on Elk from Chefross ( cannot find it ) :

    Here is a lovely Venison Recipe which would work for Elk certainly :

    Juniper Berry and Peppercorn Rubbed Elk or Deer Sirlion ...

    1 / 2 Inch Thick sirlion Elk Steaks

    Extra Virgin Olive Oil 

    1 medium sweet onion

    4 sweet potatoes or yams chopped in large cubes

    kosher salt

    3 or 4 cloves garlic

    Peppercorns in all colors

    Juniperberry herb fresh if possible

    1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees farenheit

    2. preheat grill or barbecue

    3. Rub both sides of the steaks with a little bit of extra virgin olive oil, all colors of peppercorns and juniper berry and let them stand on tray 30 minutes ( a dry marinade )

    4. place the sweet yams on a cookie sheet, sprinkle with a bit of salt and a sprig of fresh rosemary or other herbs of your choice

    5. Bake the yams

    6. Sauté the garlic and onion with 2 tblsps of extra virgin olive oil

    7. Brush the garlic and onion mixture onto the elk steaks and grill to medium rare

    Margcata.

    There is a Canadian website which specialises in recipes for venison varieties:  www.venisonmeat.com
     
  14. margcata

    margcata Banned

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    @ KY,

    Your Cumberland Sauce sounds lovely. I shall have to try it on a variety of feathered game which is very popular in Castilla La Mancha and parts of Northern Spain ... Partridge, pheasant, quail, woodcock ( becada ) and guinea fowl ( pintada ). Goose is not very common here, however, wild duck is.

    I believe it would work.
     
  15. kyheirloomer

    kyheirloomer

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    Margcata, I would go easy using Cumberland Sauce on upland birds. They tend to be delicate, and the sauce might overpower their flavor.

    I can see it with woodcock, though, which are strong enough to stand up to the sauce. And perhaps guinea fowl if you stick with older birds. It's really better with waterfowl overall.
     
  16. margcata

    margcata Banned

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     @ KY,

    Just received your advice note. Thanks. I hadn´t thought profoundly on subject, just really like the  ingredients in Cumberland sauce.

    I guess, we have to figure out how to get a Goose !  Actually it should not be that hard in Northern Spain, Navarra as they have a Foie Gras Designation and raise ducks and geese. Have to do some research and / or perhaps, a Chef that I know, might have some means to get a small goose for a Cumberland tasting !
     
    Last edited: Jan 3, 2012
  17. kyheirloomer

    kyheirloomer

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    just really like the  ingredients in Cumberland sauce.

    What's not to like? But, as always, you have to look for a balance of flavors. And this one just works best with stronger tasting birds.

    But to make up for it, here's a really nice recipe for partridge:

    Peter's Partridge

    1 partridge

    Butter

    Salt

    Freshly ground black pepper

    1 large bunch seedless white grapes

    1 jigger brandy

    1 pint heavy cream

    Melt butter in a skillet and brown the bird over high heat. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Stuff the partridge with grapes and place in a buttered casserole. Add more grapes until the bird is covered. Top with a tablespoon of butter, cover the casserole, and put it in a 375F oven for about 25 minutes, basting from time to time with the grape liquid. Add the brandy just before removing the bird from the oven. 

    Set the bird aside. Boil down the grapes, juice, and bird drippings until thick. Stir in the cream and cook to desired consistency.

    BTW, a cazeula works ideally for this if you butterfly the bird first, so that you can cover it with the grapes. Put a layer of grapes down first, then the bird, breast side up, then continue as above.

    Is wild rice available in Spain? It's a naturally mate to upland birds. Indeed, with all upland birds, if you prepare them using things they eat as ingredients you can't go wrong.
     
  18. margcata

    margcata Banned

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    @ KY.

    White grapes, Brandy and Cream ... Partridge ... Sounds very lovely.

    I shall be doing the Norwegian Salmon with Tennessee Malt Whiskey Jack Daniels on the 7th and then on Sunday the 8th, the Partridge ... Thanks for all the advice.
     
  19. chrisbelgium

    chrisbelgium

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    GarrettJ, you could make lots of game stock from your hunted birds, reduce it and store it in your freezer in ready to use portions. It's the perfect base for nearly all sauces you will make!

    Many times only the breasts and thighs are used. All the rest; neck, drumsticks, backbones and all other bones, liver, estomachs... aren't served.

    Simply fry them in a large pan for quite a long time (20-30 minutes) on medium heat on the stovetop, or, for large quantities in an oventray and let them get a nice brown coloring. Then add a "mirepoix" of coarsely cut carrot, celery, onion. Let fry for another while. Then transfer everything into a large cookingpot and merely submerge entirely with cold water. Add a few whole black peppercorns, thyme, laurelleaf, 2 cloves, a few juniperberries and just a very little salt. Let simmer very gently, uncovered, for at least an hour, or many hours more if you like. Even after a good hour you will already have a good light saucebase but best to let it simmer the whole afternoon. Sieve and let reduce this light stock on high fire. It's now ready to use as a saucebase or to portion and put in the freezer.

    You can use this in so many sauces wether creamsauses or sweet ones etc. Even in both lovely sauces KY mentions (Cumberland and the Partridge recipe), I guess even KY would agree that half a cup of this stock added and reduced together with KY's mentioned ingredients would be fantastic.

    I made this great sauce last week for magret de canard (duck breast) from the french Landes region. This is not a wild bird! This sauce is also heaven with venison (even if the game stock is made with birds only!!) etc.

    Simply have a small cup of good red wine and the same amount of port wine and let reduce on mediumhigh fire together with a handfull of blackberries. Let reduce untill merely 2-3 tbsp of fluid left and looks like syrup. Then add a cup of the stock I just discribed and let reduce to half. S&BlackPepper to taste. Just before serving, cut a tbsp worth of COLD butter -yes, hard butter, straight from the fridge- and put in the sauce. Shake the pan gently untill the butter disappears. This will thicken the sauce a little and make it glossy. You can sieve the blackberries out if you like, I didn't, the sauce looks more rustic. Enjoy!

    [​IMG]
     
  20. kyheirloomer

    kyheirloomer

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    I guess even KY would agree that half a cup of this stock added and reduced together with KY's mentioned ingredients would be fantastic.

    In the Cumberland Sauce I would reduce the stock first, Chris. With the grape thing, either way. But as to the flavor, sure, why not!

    Your blackberry sauce would go perfectly with wildfowl. The birds have to be cooked differently, is all. But the sauce is a great match.