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Eating Gone Wild

Game meats are excellent sources of protein and similar in composition to domestic animal meat. NDSU Extension Service Food and Nutrition Specialist, Julie Garden-Robinson, addressed the topic of wild game in a recent “Prairie Fare” news column. I found it very interesting and would like to share it with you here.

Wild game hunting is part of our region’s heritage. For early people, bison and other large animals provided food, clothing and shelter.

The hunting tradition continues today as hunters put on their blaze orange garb, gather their hunting gear and head into the great outdoors. Besides being a sporting event, hunting helps with wildlife management by preventing overpopulation when there are few natural predators.

For many people, hunting is a sporting event and an annual tradition enjoyed with family and friends, rather than a necessity for food. These days, people have several options to obtain meat, ranging from visits to grocery stores to online ordering of food.

Savoring the hunt at the dinner table is one of the rewards of a successful trip. Menus that are a little on the “wild side” have grown in popularity. In fact, some upscale restaurants in large cities feature bison, antelope, venison, elk, yak and even kangaroo dishes on their menus.

Game meats are excellent sources of protein and similar in composition to domestic animal meat. As a positive feature, many game meats are lower in fat, particularly saturated fat, compared with their domestic counterparts.

Venison, or deer meat, can add variety to your menu. A 3-ounce portion of venison has about 130 calories and 3 grams of fat and meets half the daily protein needs of an adult. Game meats have a characteristic flavor, depending on the species, the age of the animals and the animals’ feeding practices.

As with other types of meat, wild game may become contaminated with bacteria anywhere from field to table. If you’re field dressing your own animals, take precautions to avoid contamination and to keep the carcass cool in unseasonably warm autumn weather. When working with wild game in your kitchen, consider these basic food safety rules.

  • Thaw frozen game in the refrigerator (or microwave oven followed by immediate cooking).

  • If you choose to marinate the meat, do so in the refrigerator. Marinades containing vinegar, wine or tomato juice impart flavor and tenderize the meat. Discard the marinade after removing the meat from it.

  • Choose an appropriate cooking method. For more tender cuts, such as sirloin and ribs, use dry heat cookery methods, such as roasting or broiling. Use moist heat methods, such as stewing and braising, for the less tender cuts.

  • Cook wild game thoroughly and use a food thermometer to determine if it’s done. Most experts recommend cooking wild game to an internal temperature of 165 degrees.

A recipe for Venison or Beef Stroganoff is available from NDSU Extension service online at http://www.ag.ndsu.edu/eatsmart/recipes/game-and-fish/venison-or-beef-stroganoff/files/venison-or-beef-stroganoff.pdf, or upon request to our office. Three “Wild Side of the Menu” publications are also available from NDSU Extension to provide information related to care and cookery, field to freezer, and curing, smoking, drying and otherwise preserving game and fish. They are available upon request, or online at http://www.ag.ndsu.edu/pubs/yf/foods/fn124.pdf, http://www.ag.ndsu.edu/pubs/yf/foods/fn125.pdf, and http://www.ag.ndsu.edu/pubs/yf/foods/fn155.pdf


As always, please give me a call if you or your friends, family, co-workers or employees have a topic you would like to learn more about through a presentation, lesson, program, activity or workshop. NDSU Extension has a lot to offer, and we are here to serve you!

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