JEFF TIEDEMAN: Wild game onTake precautions to ensure bounty tastes as good as possible.
One of the biggest misconceptions people have about wild game is that it tastes gamey.
And with hunting season upon us, there are a several things people can do to make sure their meat is as delicious (or even more so) than that you would purchase in the supermarket.
And while there is no doubt that some folks have had a bad experience with wild game such as eating some of Uncle Bill’s nasty homemade venison sausage or Cousin Joe’s too-tough goose jerky, it doesn’t have to be that way.
First and foremost, make sure that your wild game is handled properly in the field. The sooner you dress animals — no matter if they are game birds or big game — the better the meat will taste. (For more detailed information, go to the North Dakota State University Extension Service Website at www.ag.ndsu.edu/extension/.)
Another thing that’s imperative when butchering big game such as moose, elk or deer is to cut off all the fat. This holds the “gamey” flavor that nonhunters by and large find unpleasant. (Since this meat is relatively lean, many people add some pork or beef to it when making sausage or burgers.)
If the bounty is to be frozen, the meat must be fresh and in top condition. Make sure to use wrapping material that is moisture/vapor resistant. (I like to vacuum-seal my game, since this prevents freezer burn but in a pinch have used other zip-type bags.)
And as far as allowing game meat to age, young animals are tender by nature, so it’s not really necessary. But if the game is a bit tough, a marinade might be a better choice than hanging it for an extended period to tenderize it. (Marinades allow the enzymes present in meat to break down some of the complex proteins.)
Over the years, I have perfected quite a few wild game recipes for numerous species. My specialty, according to family and friends who have sampled it, might be baked pheasant with wild rice. (See recipe at www.grandforks herald.com/event/tag/group/Life/tag/food/.)
But there are other recipes that I would rate right up, including the ones for barbecued pheasant (shredded) and grilled bacon-wrapped duck or grouse breasts that have been marinated.
As you might gather, most of the meat that we eat in our house is wild game. In fact, I’ve just returned from elk hunting in Colorado and am about to embark on a couple of trips to western North Dakota to chase pheasants (if we can find them).
And you can be that I’ll be taking a lot of precautions to ensure the meat is of top-quality as well as succulent.
After all, I have a reputation to uphold.
Tiedeman is food editor at the Herald. Reach him at (701) 780-1136 or toll-free at (800) 477-6572, or e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.