Wild-game meat is the highest quality organic protein available. It comes from free-range, sustainably harvested, antibiotic-free and hormone-free animals, which might explain why it’s absolutely delicious. If it were available commercially, it would sell out faster than a Beanie Baby in 1999.
Although venison and other wild meats are a fantastic way to feed your family, your youngest family members might be overly selective. They can be wary of unfamiliar protein, but if you present wild game in a familiar dish, their worries vanish. Simply take their favorite meal and substitute store-bought protein with wild-raised meat.
If you don’t have wild meat handy, make friends with bowhunters at nearby archery shops or clubs. Hunters are generous and often share meat they’ve brought home from the woods. Ground meat is often the easiest to procure, and it’s also fantastic for introducing people to wild game.
Tacos, meatballs, burgers and chicken nuggets are classic, universally loved foods. They’re also easily adapted to wild-game recipes with palate-pleasing results. What follows are some easily followed recipes for converting picky eaters to wild-game connoisseurs.
Tacos are a great vehicle for venison because they’re great with a variety of venison preparations, including ground venison, slow-cooked pulled venison and thinly sliced venison steak. Slow-cooked pulled venison is an easy and versatile preparation that kids and adults will love.
1 packet taco seasoning
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 ½ cups chicken stock
1 onion (chopped)
1 tablespoon cilantro
3-pound venison roast
Season venison with salt and pepper. Set aside. Add olive oil to skillet and bring to high heat. Once the oil is smoking, add the venison roast and brown for a few minutes on each side. Once the venison is nicely browned, remove it from the pan and set aside.
Add the chicken stock, taco seasoning, chopped onion and cilantro to a slow cooker set on low heat. Place venison in the slow cooker and cook for 6 hours or until the meat easily pulls apart. Remove the venison and let it rest for 15 minutes. Then, shred the meat with two forks.
Add the venison to warm tortillas with your favorite taco sauces and toppings. Now you have tacos the whole family will love. Pulled venison is also delicious in quesadillas and burritos.
Wild Turkey Nuggets
Nuggets are the epitome of kid-approved finger foods, and they’re delicious in many dipping sauces. Wild turkey breasts lend themselves to this classic fried dish, and the recipe is familiar to anyone who has made chicken nuggets; with one caveat. Wild-game meats, in general, are lean. To counteract their tendency toward dryness, brine the turkey breast. Brining is similar to marinating, and keeps wild-turkey meat moist and tender.
1 cup panko or breadcrumbs
1 turkey breast
½ cup all-purpose flour
Kosher salt and black pepper to taste.
Standard Brining Recipe:
1 gallon water
¾ cup kosher salt
2/3 cup sugar
¼ cup olive oil
Mix the brine, submerge the turkey breasts, and cover. Refrigerate eight to 24 hours.
Rinse the turkey breasts in cold water and pat them dry with paper towels. Cut into strips or 1-inch nuggets. Dredge them in flour, then in the egg wash, and finally in the panko. Place the nuggets in 375-degree oil to deep-fry. Cook until the inner temperature reaches 165 degrees.
Standard ground-beef burgers have 20 percent fat. Venison is lean. To get a texture similar to ground beef, and to keep the burger juicy, you’ll need to add pork fat. Pork fat’s neutral flavor won’t conflict with venison’s flavor.
To add fat to your venison, ask your butcher to grind pork fat with your venison, or simply buy ground pork and mix it into the venison yourself. Another trick for juicy venison burgers is to add small cubes of chilled butter or cheese into the ground meat.
You can make burger patties with help from your kids. It’s fun and gets them involved in the process. Press your ground mixture into patties, and cook them to your desired taste, stopping short of “well done” to avoid drying them out. Add your favorite toppings and a toasted bun. You now have a classic hamburger redone as a wild-game meal.
Part of the fun of eating wild game is sharing the story of the hunt that produced the meat. You can discuss the preparations that went into the hunt, the sights and sounds of the woods, and the excitement and experiences of the animal’s approach or sighting.
Wild game is a great way to educate children about where their food comes from. It’s also an excellent steppingstone to becoming a bowhunter. If your kids know and understand the source of their food, they just might want to try procuring meat themselves. That means they’ll want to visit the archery store to pick out a bow, and hunt for their own wild-game meals.
So, what are you waiting for? Get cooking and enjoy some of your delicious wild-game meat with your entire family.