Here's some tips on how to take the gamey taste out of wild game.
So, the hunt is over and you've tagged your game. Now what?
You can choose to pay to have your meat processed by a professional, or you can clean and process it on your own. Of the two choices, paying a professional usually gets less meat at a higher cost. If you have the time and desire, processing your own meat is the way to go.
However, processing venison or other wild game meats isn't just about getting it off the bone and into the freezer. It's also about knowing how to prepare the meat in order to get the best flavor.
Venison has a gamey flavor, and so is bear, moose and certain kinds of game birds. If you're participating in exotic game hunting, there's a whole plethora of tastes and varieties you'll encounter. Because these are wild animals, there's no way around the fact you'll have to deal with a wild taste.
So before you realize your meat tastes gamey, here are some ways to get ahead of it.
Proper Cleaning & Cooling Techniques
The first step in removing the gamey taste from wild venison or other meats is to properly clean the animal. A concrete rule is to remove the innards as quickly as possible. By removing the hot offal from the gut cavity, you give the rest of the muscles a better chance of cooling and stopping enzyme production. Once you have the animal gutted, it's time to prepare the animal for cleaning.
The one thing that is definitive is the fact that you need to remove the hair, fat, and bone as efficiently as possible.
By removing the hide of an animal, your meat will cool better. If you are in a temperate climate, you need to get the meat on ice as quickly as possible. Don't let a deer or other large game animal hang in the heat.
As a general rule, it's best to clean and debone the meat as quickly as you can. These are some of the best way to naturally eliminate most of the gaminess of the meat up front, before it even reaches your kitchen.
Soaking the Meat
One of the best methods to eliminate the gamey meat taste is to soak it before freezing. Which liquid mixture to use is one of the most debated topics of hunters over the last century. Everyone has an opinion as to what works and what doesn't.
However, a few of the most common soaking liquids are buttermilk, saltwater, white milk, vinegar, and lemon or lime juice. If you ask a hundred hunters which one they prefer, you'll probably get a hundred different answers. Our thoughts? Milk, or even yogurt, is your best bet, especially if it's going to be fried. Dairy has a way of essentially "bleeding out" wild game, which is likely the source of a lot of gaminess complaints.
Another way to eliminate the gamey taste is to marinade the meat well prior to cooking it. Marinades are as varied as the chefs who use them, and there isn't one specific marinade that works better than the rest. Just as you won't be able to find a majority of hunters that agree on the best soaking liquid, you won't find a majority decision for marinade technique either.
The important thing to remember is to marinade the meat in whichever sauce you choose for at least 2-3 hours prior to cooking. No matter if you choose to marinade in barbecue sauce, Italian dressing, or your own custom mix, you have to give the marinade time to soak into the meat. For the best result, marinade overnight or for at least 12 hours. The longer a marinade is put to work, the more flavor you will impart on the meat being soaked.
Find a Good Recipe
The best way to make sure wild game turns into a tasty meal is to find a recipe you like and go for it. The Internet is filled with all kinds of recipes, including beef or pork recipes that can be converted to work for venison or wild hog.
Don't worry if you don't find the perfect recipe right off the bat. It may take time. Trial and error is a good method for discovering what works and what doesn't.
The Best Results
Meat harvested from the field is wild game; it's as simple as that. There's no getting around the fact that you're eating natural, wild meat. However, you want to enjoy the taste and enhance the natural flavor of the meat without allowing the gaminess of your kill to ruin the experience. Give a few of the suggestions listed here a shot and hopefully your next taste of venison will be a lot more enjoyable than improperly processed game.