Taking the “gamey” out of game

We all know someone, maybe it’s our loved ones, or maybe its our friends, it could even be yourself, that doesn’t like the “gamey” taste of venison. Well, most of us have been trained during our lives by eating commercially raised beef to think there is something off about venison. I’m here to tell you, it doesn’t have to be that way. You worked hard to harvest that animal don’t ruin the best part (eating it) by making some common mistakes. There are numerous ways, starting at butchering, and continuing the whole way through cooking to avoid the “gamey” taste.

First of all, you don’t want to wait too long to dress the deer you have harvested. The quicker you can remove the organs and the hide of a deer the quicker the meat can cool. Heat is your enemy, not only when it comes to wild game , but any meat. Just like an IPA (India Pale Ale), when meat warms, it brings out different flavors. Contrary to an IPA these flavors are typically unwanted. So, the quicker you can cool the meat the better off you’re going to be.

Next, the way you cut and clean the meat can make all the difference with the way it tastes. When you’re cutting up the meat, pay particular attention to the tallow. Tallow is fat, and fat in wild game is typically not your friend. Remove as much as you can, because the primary cause of the “gamey” taste comes from the wild game fat. Venison is typically very lean, but if you want added fat, go down to your local butcher and get some pork or beef fat from him and mix it in. You won’t regret it. It’s the difference between a good venny burger and a great one.

Last, marinades take some time and planning, but it can change the flavor of meat without question. The chances of you waking up one day and saying that you are going to thaw, marinade, and cook some venison are pretty much slim and none if you want to do it right. Start thawing your meat two nights before in the refrigerator. Thawing it too soon can cause the same problem you are trying to avoid. Waiting too long to thaw it can cause you cooking problems due to the meat still being frozen. Marinades typically consist of acidic ingredients like vinegar, yogurt, lemon juice, or wine. After that it’s all about oil and the flavor you want. One thing you should never do is marinate in aluminum. There are some chemical reactions that can occur that may spoil your meat, so be careful.

If you follow these steps, it will lessen the chance of having the “gamey” taste, but you are cooking wild game and it will never taste like farm raised meat. There is a distinct difference in the deer that I harvest in Pennsylvania and the deer that I harvest in Ohio. The deer that I take in Pennsylvania is typically surviving on new growth and native grasses, conversely the deer in Ohio is gorging itself on soy beans and corn. This leads the deer in Pennsylvania to typically have a more “gamey” taste.