NDSU Extension Service - Ramsey County


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From Field to Table with Game Meats

From Field to Table with Game Meats


                For many hunters the thrill of the hunt is surpassed only by the thrill of dining on the delicious game they have brought to the table. Game meats though need different preparation and cooking methods to ensure their tastiness.

                Game meats may be drier and less tender than meats of domestic animals, but are richer in flavor. Strong flavors are more generally pronounced in the fat of game species, so trimming fat from a carcass or individual cut can be important. The fat from large game animals such as deer, moose or elk is highly saturated so it should always be served piping hot or very cold to avoid the fat clinging to the roof of our mouths and a greasy taste.

                Since game meats have little fat covering, you may need to add cream, butter or cooking oils to maintain the juiciness of the meat. Game meats may be substituted for beef or other meats in your favorite recipes for chili, soups or stews but will add a slightly different flavor of their own.

                Game meat flavor may be enhanced with the use of marinades. Commercial liquid marinades or dry mixes are available. Consider also using fruit juices such as pineapple or lemon juice, vegetable juices such as tomato juice, Italian or French dressing or your favorite marinade recipe.

                Avoid overcooking, which may further dry out the meat. Use a food thermometer to measure doneness, which will help ensure both a high-quality and safe recipe.

                If your successful hunt includes game birds, they may be roasted without fear of drying them out because the fat beneath the skin will absorb into the meat. However, if birds are skinned, it is advisable to wrap them with bacon, dredge with flour or put them in oven bags to prevent the bird from drying out while cooking. Another option: dip a slice of bread in egg and milk and place on the surface of the bird while roasting.

                If the bird is to be cut into small pieces, test the joints and bones to determine the cookery method. If the joints are stiff and the bones brittle, this indicates the bird is old and should be braised (simmered in a covered pot with a small amount of liquid) or stewed to make it more tender and enjoyable. If the joints are flexible and bones soft, the bird can be fried.

                Like other high-protein foods, wild game, birds and fish must be handled carefully in the kitchen. Bacteria and other microorganisms can easily be spread through a kitchen by unwashed hands, equipment or mishandled food. To reduce risk of foodborne illness, follow these food safety rules:

■ Wash your hands for at least 20 seconds with soap and water before beginning to work and after changing tasks or after doing anything that could contaminate your hands, such as sneezing or using the bathroom.

■ Start with clean equipment. After using, clean equipment thoroughly with hot soapy water.

■ After washing cutting boards, other equipment and surfaces with hot soapy water and rinsing, sanitize with a solution of 1 tablespoon chlorine bleach per gallon of water (or approximately 1 teaspoon per four cups water). After spraying the surface or dipping cutting boards in the solution, allow to air-dry. Remake sanitizing solution daily.

■ Thaw frozen meat in a refrigerator at 40 degrees or below on the lowest shelf to avoid dripping of juices on ready-to-eat foods. Meat also may be safely thawed in a microwave oven (immediately followed by cooking), sealed in a plastic bag and placed under cold running water, or as part of
the cooking process.

■ Use separate cutting boards for cutting up raw meat and ready-to-eat foods like salad ingredients and bread.

■ Marinate meat in the refrigerator. Cover the container with a lid or plastic wrap and rotate/shake so the marinade coats the meat. For best flavor, allow to marinate at least four hours. Do not re-use marinade that has been in contact with meat; save out some marinade for use as a dipping sauce. Use the marinated meat within 48 hours.

■ Use a food thermometer to measure doneness of game meats. For safety, cook game meats to an internal temperature of 160 F and game birds to an internal temperature of at least 165 F.


Venison Steak, Italian Style

4 venison steaks
½ medium onion, sliced
1 green pepper, cut into strips
1 15-oz. can chopped tomatoes
Dash of garlic powder (optional)
Dash of oregano (optional)
Salt and pepper to taste

Dredge steaks in flour. Fry in skillet with sliced onion until brown. Add strips of green pepper and tomatoes. Season with salt and pepper. Add garlic powder and/or oregano if desired. Simmer ½ to 1 hour. Serve on rice.



Venison Stroganoff

2 lb. steak cut ½” thick
2 c. mushrooms, chopped (you may use canned bits and pieces or chopped fresh mushrooms)
1 c. finely chopped onion
3 Tbsp. butter or margarine
3 beef bouillon cubes
4 c. cooked rice
1 c. boiling water
2 Tbsp. tomato paste
1 tsp. dry mustard
½ tsp. salt
2 Tbsp. flour
½ c. water
1 c. dairy sour cream (regular or reduced fat)

                Cut steak into strips about 2¼ inches long. In large skillet, sauté fresh mushrooms and onion in butter or margarine till golden brown. Remove and set aside. Brown meat on all sides (15 minutes). Dissolve bouillon cubes in boiling water; pour over meat. Add tomato paste, mustard and salt. Heat. Simmer 45 minutes or until tender. Combine flour and water. Slowly stir into meat mixture. Cook, stirring constantly, until mixture comes to a boil. Reduce heat. Add mushrooms, onions and sour cream. Heat but do not boil. Serve over hot rice or chow mein noodles.

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