Steer clear of these meat-cooking mistakes for better venison and wild game and you’ll be well on your way to making more delicious dishes you’ll be proud to serve the next time game night rolls around.
In an effort to breakdown the general misstep of “not cooking it right,” here are a few common mistakes people make when cooking wild game.
- Choosing the Wrong Cooking Method for the Wrong Cut
Game isn’t difficult to cook if you’re familiar with it. But it can be tricky if you’re not used to it. There are certain cuts from deer, elk, and other big game that are easier to cook. Learn the cuts of meat, and what they’re best suited for. Shanks and neck meat are great for stews because they have a lot of connective tissue, which will break down during slow cooking and add richness to your dish. Backstraps have little or no fat in them, and can get stringy in a stew. On the grill, however, backstraps and the big, tender cuts from the hindquarters are perfect. Here's the best way to cook every cut of venison.
- Being Afraid to Ruin Your Game Meats
Being afraid to cook wild game because you don’t want to ruin it or are afraid of running out is another common infraction. When you leave your wild game in the freezer until “next time” or save it for a special occasion, more often than not it ends up freezer burned and in the trash. The only way to get better at cooking wild game is to cook more of it. Even if your first attempts at cooking a cut don't turn out as perfectly as you'd hoped, keep trying. It’s always better to have space in your freezer to fill than to have to throw out freezer burned meat.
- Not Using a Meat Thermometer
When you cook those tender cuts (i.e. steaks, chops, and roasts), you need to use a meat thermometer. A lot of people think they know when their meat is done, but the difference between 140-degree perfection and a dried-out hockey puck is only a matter of minutes. Wild game cooks faster than domestic meats and is less forgiving. But like all meat, it will continue to cook after you remove it from the heat. If you’re shooting for 140 degrees, pull it off the heat around 135 degrees and let it rest. Leave the thermometer in the meat and watch it climb those last few degrees.
- Not Spending Enough Time in Practice
This has seemingly nothing to do with cooking, but if you want your game to die a quick death, you need to spend time practicing. If you make a poor shot and have to track an animal for hours—or, even worse, have to leave an animal overnight—that can affect the taste of the meat. If you shoot an animal in the wrong spot and are lucky enough to recover it, you can still lose portions of the best cuts of meat. So get out your SpyderWeb Target and practice, practice, practice.
Practicing with a SpyderWeb Target makes for better dishes in the kitchen!
What’s your favorite way to cook wild game?
At SpyderWeb Targets, we’re always curious to hear how you clean out your freezer, so visit our Facebook page and let us know! You can also check out some of our favorite venison recipes that aren’t chili if you need some inspiration. And don’t forget to check out our products page to find a SpyderWeb Target that will help you fill your tag and your freezer year after year!