There’s nothing better than cooking a delicious wild game meal for friends and family — here are the 10 essential items to successfully take your quarry from field to fork.
You can’t be the best wild game chef without a stocked kitchen! Your kitchen does not need to have thousands of dollars worth of appliances but there are some simple things you can’t cook without. These are the top 10 things you need in your kitchen.
1. Meat Thermometer
Overcooked game meat is a never enjoyable and can really turn people off to eating wild game. A good meat thermometer is the key to keeping meat from being overcooked, gamey, and tough! It’s important to have an accurate thermometer so if you do a lot of cooking invest in a new one every other year or so. There are a plethora to choose from and features range from very basic to complex and technical. Pick whatever type you’ll use the most!
2. Sweet Wine/Vermouth
Sweet wines and vermouths are such an easy way to add to and enhance game meat. If you feel like making a glaze for duck, elk, venison, etc., just add a bit of sweet wine or sweet vermouth to a hot pan and then add butter or a current jelly and reduce until the consistency is correct. This is a great way to switch things up when you make game meat for dinner very often — as you should!
3. A Good Knife
This goes really without saying for basically all cooking. But what is a good knife? A good knife is a sharp knife so make sure to invest in a sharpener at some point. Really good knives will come sharp and stay sharp for a while but will need to be retuned eventually and often. The more you cook wild game meat, the more you will realize the different types of knives that will be useful to you. If you have just one knife make sure it is big and sharp.
4. Sous Vide Skills
Ok, this isn’t an item, it’s a method. But it is an essential thing to know for those who love to cook wild game meat. Sous vide is a French term that means cooking under vacuum. Although it may sound daunting, cooking sous vide is really very easy and the results are incredible. Cooking wild game sous vide is worthwhile because it ensures that you won’t have any overcooked meat.
For instance, when cooking venison on the grill or stove, once you have a rare-ish center, the outer edges of the meat are totally overcooked. By cooking sous vide, the entirety of the cut of meat is cooked to the same doneness of your choosing. The sous vide method achieves this through sealing the meat in a bag, immersing the bag in hot water, and keeping the water at a certain temperature for a certain time. Items needed to cook sous vide are basic and variable but essentially are good plastic bags, thermometer, and container (a YETI cooler works well). This is a great skill to have in your back pocket and will come in handy for a wide variety of wild game meat. To get you started, here is a sous vide venison backstrap recipe.
5. Kitchen Twine
Kitchen twine is a little thing that is very handy to have. You can use it to tie up whole birds like quail, dove, pheasant, or to tie a roast. Using kitchen twine to tie a roast makes it more circular which ensures more even cooking. Again, not overcooking is the key to wild game meat.
6. Cast Iron Pan
Cast iron is the workhorse of meat cooking. It is hugely versatile and can be used for pretty much every recipe in the book. Cast iron is so functional because it goes from the stovetop to the oven and functions as a serving dish as well. Plus clean-up is easy — no soap.
7. Vacuum Sealer
And if you cook game meat often, a commercial grade model sealer is best. Vacuum sealers are so helpful because they allow you to really properly store your wild game in the freezer. Even if you use a professional butcher to process your harvest, sometimes you just want a portion of a cut and having your own sealer allows you to reseal the rest for another night.
8. Meat Mallet
Flattening, breading, and pan-frying is a great and super-easy way to prepare game meat. A meat mallet is heavy which allows you to flatten the meat without having to violently pound it. Just put your cut of meat between two sheets of plastic wrap or parchment paper and gently flatten it.
9. Blade Tenderizer
A blade tenderizer pierces the meat with a cluster of tiny blades. This breaks down fibers in tough meat making it significantly more tender. The cuts also allow the meat to deeply absorb any marinades making for a very juicy texture.
10. Good company!
Cooking wild game meat, whether harvested yourself or by a friend, is a fun activity to involve loved-ones in. Figure out your favorite ways to cook game meat then pass them on! Good food is an important part of our hunting heritage that we should strive to preserve and perfect.
With these 10 essentials you are on your way to becoming a great chef. Next is the $3,000 industrial stove.