Wild game is among the healthiest meat on the planet, but cooking it can be tricky. Outdoorsmen know the last phase of a good trip occurs at the table. All the memories of a successful outing replay themselves when a game feast is prepared, whether it’s fish or fowl, or perhaps a little venison tenderloin. To make the dinner even more memorable, it helps if the guests ask for seconds. And admittedly, wild game is not something everyone cooks well. Try these five techniques from The Sporting Chef Scott Leysath to make your next wild game dinner delicious.
1. Keep It Cold And Keep It Clean.
Scott admits it’s tempting to carry game around to show your friends, but taking care of it early helps at the end. Spoilage organisms are best kept to a minimum when you dress and clean the game quickly. Then, getting the game chilled soon after further protects it from spoilage.
2. Brine Your Ducks And Geese.
Scott says you can purchase a brine mixture, such as those available from High Mountain, or you can make your own. His is a simple recipe of one cup coarse kosher salt, one cup of brown sugar, and one gallon of water. Mix these and soak the ducks or geese in the brine for 24 hours. He suggests going a little longer on large birds such as geese and perhaps a little shorter on small ducks.
3. Age Large Game For Improved Tenderness.
Going straight from the field to the table prevents meat from aging. This is an enzymatic process that allows the connective tissue to break down, making the meat more tender. Scott recommends using a vacuum packaging system to pack the cuts and age them at 29-34 degrees Fahrenheit. Meat freezes at 29 degrees Fahrenheit, so keeping the meat slightly above freezing allows the enzymatic process to continue, while minimizing the growth of spoilage bacteria.
4. Don’t Overcook.
This is the step many cooks get wrong. “Most people overcook wild game,” says Scott. Overcooking dries the meat and toughens it. If you have ever followed Scott, you will notice that many of his recipes include either cooking time or temperature. For instance, one venison roast recipe suggests aiming for 155-160 degrees Fahrenheit for the internal temperature.
5. Rest Meat After Cooking.
Resting meat is simply letting it sit for a brief period under cover after cooking. Scott had an interesting example to demonstrate his point, recommending trying this on your holiday turkey. Cook it to 165 degrees Fahrenheit internally, then put it in a tight-fitting cooler and pack the empty spaces with towels. Close it and tape the seam to keep in the heat and to prevent anyone from looking in on it. In two hours, your turkey will be moist, tender, and ready to eat.