Cooking with Wild Game

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Wild game is often shied away from, particularly because of its strong flavor and difficulty to prepare, but when cooked properly, it can make for some of the better dishes you've ever had. Below you will find some good tips and tricks for cooking wild game, and ensuring that you end up with a spectacular meal.

Preparing the Meat

This step is particularly important if you are the one killing the animal. One of the most crucial elements to cooking with wild game is ensuring that you dress the animal as soon as possible after it's been shot. Many experts recommend that the entrails be removed as soon as possible, and particularly with fowl, that the cleaned parts be kept in a cool place. The longer you wait to dress the animal, the more likely you are to have a strange tasting meat.
Also recommended is removing all the bones, tendons and fat from the animal. This will make it easy to eat, and bring out more of the flavors during the cooking process. Once you've done this, it is also a good idea to marinate the meat for over 24 hours. Be sure to use a marinade that is highly acidic (citrus juices, Worcestershire etc). Not only will this add flavor, but it will help with the tenderizing as well.

Cooking your Wild Game

Now that you've cleaned and readied your game for cooking, there are some good rules of thumb to stick by depending on what type of meat you are cooking, how old it is, and what time of year it is. If you are cooking game birds, dry cooking methods like frying are better for younger birds. Older birds will be more flavorful when cooked using moist methods like braising or putting them in a stew. Fish eating ducks should be soaked for 4 -12 hours in cold water with salt and vinegar, this will help to make them tenderer. While there is debate on whether it is best to skin or pluck wild game birds, I've found that plucking is best, as the skin helps the bird remain moist during the cooking process.

As the season moves away from spring and summer into winter, wild boar, rabbit and other game meats make for the perfect meal. Stew is a great way to cook these types of meat, and there's the added advantage of easy storage after you've made a large batch.

Slow Cooking Advantages

Regardless of what the type of meat is: venison, fowl, rabbit etc., slow cooking the meat seems to work the best. This prevents it from drying out, and allows more of the natural flavor to cook into the dish. You always want to ensure that you aren't overcooking the meat, so keep a close eye on your dish while it's cooking. Wild game can dry out extremely fast, so basting or wrapping the meat in bacon helps to reduce the chances of ruining it by cooking it too long.

Rules of the Wild

At the end of the day the trick to cooking wild game really comes down to two basic rules: keep the meat as fresh and clean as possible after killing it, and make sure that you are very attentive to the cooking process. If you do these two things well, you can make some spectacular meals for your friends and family.

This article is presented by Le Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts Minneapolis/St. Paul. Le Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts Minneapolis/St. Paul offers Le Cordon Bleu culinary education classes and culinary training programs in Minneapolis, Minnesota. To learn more about the class offerings, please visit for more information.

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