Wild Game Birds Processing and Cooking

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Lifter

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Having had the experience of hunting wild duck, goose, partridge and grouse, its ineresting just "what" people do with the meat so "harvested"...

Coming from parents/grandparents who outlived the Dirty 30's and settled the area at the turn of the previous century, I do not mean to attract comment on how I just phrased that...anyone who hunts understands its very difficult to attract birds or animals to a reasonable range, and just as difficult to take them cleanly, and quickly, and retriee whatever you shoot, and use it...

Anyways, it was neat to hunt with my father, uncles and grandffather on occaision, and, when it was ducks that we were after, go through all of the production of plucking, dipping in wax to take off the down and pinfeathers, gutting and cleaning (usually late at night, after an early morning!), and the "hot toddy's that were on offer after this was completed, to come up with some admittedly small carcasses which were roasted whole...

As I aged, I got to shoot with some farm boys, who knew better how to deke the bird in, and was once enthusiastically supported by a company president who flew in with his son-in-law, that man's father, and their field trials champion retriever...and with 2 or 3 co-workers we "lowered the population" of mallards that week (no difference, there's even more of them now!) but the funny part was that "Lloyd" and myself wound up in my basement with 6 guy's limit of ducks in front of us, and the prospect of an 0400 alarm the next day, to do it again...

This is where I learned to butcher the birds, taking the legs, thighs and breast meat, which, on a wild duck, you will appreciate is 93% of the usable meat...

"Lloyd" showed me how you placed this in a stainless steel bowl, covering it with water, and adding about a half cup of Kosher Salt to pull the blood out, that the next day, with this "aging" affected on the meat, you could drain, rinse, pre-season with seasoning salt, meat tenderiser, onion and garlic powder, etc, and bag and freeze the meat in meal size portions...

The seasoning and tenderisers worked the meat until freezing was achieved, and helped the thawing process, much as does a marinade by Rainee...and once thawed, coating it with a light bit of flour, you could saute it in cheap red wine, olive oil and garlic that even my wife demanded another package be opened and cooked up (her father was a meat inspector and she had major fears over wild meat!)

This "graduated" me to deer and moose in time, and it was neat to note how the handling of the animal in the field was, the careful removal of the digestive tract (okay, I'm being careful here to avoid censure from the BoardMaster! Anyone who has ever field butchered will catch my point!) and avoidance of contact with hair, or mud to meat...

The importance of having a place to hang the carcass and again the VITAL importance of hanging at least 14 days, if not longer...and with deer and moose, cutting away ALL the fat and bone....

Steaks and "roasts" are all you'll get in a solid piece, the rest is a long couple days with a flensing/boning knife, and you better have the sharpening stone handy...as you WILL be using it! And the resultant mass is good for hamburger or sausage only...unless you have the skill to cut away "cutlets", which should be treated (IMO) exactly like the goose breasts, and cooked the same too!

Anyways, its late, and will see if there are respondents to this and if we can take the cooking methods forwards for others...

Lifter
 

Juliev

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Sep 3, 2004
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USA
I have never had wild game, except wild turkey.. I was invited over to a friend's Thanksgiving festivities one year... my family was out of town for a wedding. Her father is a big hunter, and I think wild turkey is moister and more flavorful than regular. I wish I had some good recipes for you.. I think I would like all kinds of wild game.
 

crewsk

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Columbia, SouthCarolina
The only wild bird I have ever had the joy of hunting, cleaning, cooking, & eating is dove. We only use the breast because they are so small. I have 2 methods of cooking these & IMHO, slow & long cooking is what it takes because they tend to be tough. The first method is to dredge the breasts in seasoned flour & brown in a small amount of hot oil, then add a can of cream of mushroom soup + 1/2 to 1 can of milk to the skillet & cover & cook until the meat is tender & cooked through(about 20-30 minutes on medium low heat). The second methid is to wrap each breast in a piece of bacon & place in a 275F oven for 20-30 minutes & then turn to broil to crisp the bacon & serve with sauted onions & mushrooms.
 

Lifter

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Thanks for ruining what was hoped to be a good column, guys...

Lifter
 

mudbug

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NoVA, beyond the Beltway
To get back on topic, Lifter, please give me some ideas on for the venison roast languishing away in the freezer (someone gave it to us). I don't really like the taste of venison, so what can I doctor it up with?

And please go on in your description of animal disassembly and prep. Hope you attract some other hunters to your campfire.
 

crewsk

Master Chef
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Aug 25, 2004
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Columbia, SouthCarolina
I found this in my Zebco Fish & Wild Game cookbook. I have not tried it but it looks pretty good.

Venison Roast in Beer

1 venison ham, deboned*
1 large onion, sliced
1/2C. ketchup
2Tbsp. brown sugar
1 clove garlic, minced
1 can beer

*Note: Almost any wild game can be used.
On a doubled piece of heavy duty foil, place the ham & slices of onion. Mix ketchup, brown sugar, garlic, & beer. This has no salt, so add salt only if you wish. Shape foil so sides will hold in liquid. Add sauce & wrap meat very securely. Bake at least 6 hours at 250F. Slice meat across grain & serve hot with thickened sauce or serve cold for sandwiches. When cold this is just as good as deli roast beef.
 

crewsk

Master Chef
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Columbia, SouthCarolina
Well since you said anyone I'll answer. Yes it does work. Buttermilk works, IMO, works better than regular milk, but they both do a good job. Plus it tenderizes the meat some.

I hope Lifter gets here soon with more ideas for you mudbug. I really think Lifter is more of an expert on this subject than I am! I'd love some of his ideas as well.
 

Lifter

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Sorry to be late Mudbug...

The important thing(s) with game are to cut it off the bones, and to eliminate any and all "fat", plus, of course, to hang it for as long as possible...14 days is the absolute minimum, 21 days would be a lot better....

Coming up to cooking it, I'd go the marinading route, probably (today) with a teriyaki or garlic herb mix, adding a good deal more oil to the mix, as you have depleted the fats...and marinate it longer than you would beef or pork...this is wild meat and it's going to be tougher...

Bacon fats or a shell of pork rind around it, do NOT be afraid to baste it, or put a separate container of water in the oven for a "steaming" effect", and ABSOLUTELY cook this no more than "medium rare" on a digital probe, and don't count on a usable gravy....

A red wine (medium sweet?) in the marinade, and/or with dinner, avoid over-browning of the meat (it dries up terribly quickly!) at all costs...

Of course if you don't like this prospect, use at least some of it, and segue on to the "Stews" section of the Board, and look in on Audeo's posts with mine on "Chili", and grind the marinated meat coarsely and make some variant of the right hand extreme as she suggests from the 1800's or the left wing Canadian version that I posted, and try to enjoy it...

The animal that involuntarily donated the roast would take this as the "final compliment" on how it tried to live its life...

Lifter
 

Chief Longwind Of The North

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When I was about 12 years old, my dad made some boiled dinner with venison. It was very tasty. But my eyes were bigger than my stomach, as the saying goes. I couldn't finish my bowl-full. I had been dipping bread into the bowl and enjoying myself. I wanted to let the food in my stomach digest some so I set the bowl to the side and promised to come back later. Now you have to remember that this was before microwave ovens were first made available to the public.

To make a long story short, the food got cold. I removed the bread from the bowl, not paying much attention to what I was doing, and took a bite. It was like biting into a candle. The venison tallow had hardened.

For those who don't know, venison fat was rendered to give early settlers, and native americans, wax for candles and fuel. It was easily stored. The tallow-wax, when burned, is rather smokey.

As Lifter said, the venison fat must be removed before cooking the meat to help remove the wild flavor, and to get rid of the tallow.

Personally, I like the wild flavor.

Seeeeeya; Goodweed of the North :D
 

Lifter

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Jun 26, 2004
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Ergo sum, quid pluribus...

And I mentioned to marinate it well, put some olive oil into it, etc...?

Am being borne out here, I expect...

Lifter
 

mudbug

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Thanks for the additional instructions, Lifter. You were not late (I'm in no hurry); I suspect we keep different hours. A question and a comment:

My venison roast is frozen, so do I hang it anyway, after it's thawed? Hanging surely is only for freshly killed animals?

The guy who gave us the roast also gave us several sleeves of ground venison, which we have used to make chili with good results. Still have some of that too, so I will try one or other of the chili recipes you and Audeo have kindly provided.
 

Lifter

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Jun 26, 2004
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No, 'Bug, you don't hang it after its thawed...it will (hopefully!) have been hung some time before it was butchered. You might add a bit of age to it by defrosting it very slowly, in the fridge, perhaps in a plastic bag, with some marinade?

Let us all know which method(s) you follow, and what you thought of the results!

PS
If using ground venison for chili, if they haven't added pork fat, do so when you cook it up, otherwise it'll be very dry and tough

Lifter
 

buckytom

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Aug 19, 2004
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hey lifter, just read your complaint, sorry, just having fun. relax dude.

to stay on topic, i always soak wild game and fishes, (except buffalo because it's not really wild, it's farm raised on the same stuff as cows) in buttermilk to remove some of the gaminess. this is especially effective with bluefish and shark. i can't stomach that gamey taste in bluefish unless it has been soaked, then grilled over a smokey hardwood fire.
 

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