Cooking Wild Game — It's Easier Than You Think

January 20, 2015

You've probably had a moment where you thought to yourself "Self, tonight we are cooking something totally out of the ordinary. Tonight we are serving elk!" Then, as quickly as it came, the moment passed and you realized you have absolutely no idea what to do with elk and settled for chicken. Don't fret, fellow meat-eater, we are here to help.

At the Organic Butcher, we carry all sorts of wild game — elk, bison, venison, you name it. It is incredibly lean and therefore requires a little more attention when cooking. Because of it's marbling, regular beef can stand up to longer cooking times. You'll need to watch wild game to make sure it doesn't cook beyond your desired doneness. Keep it on the more rare side and you'll be fine. For stews, the moment the meat falls apart the stew is done. Any longer and it will completely break down.


Buffalo vs. Bison 
Early European settlers originally called American Bison "Buffalo" because they equated it with African Buffalo and/or Asian Water Buffalo from other countries. These animals are similar, but are not the same. African Buffalo are extremely aggressive. So much so, that they have never been successfully domesticated. It's a safe bet that most of what is on the market labeled "Buffalo" is actually Bison. 

The Bison we carry is lower in calories, fat, and cholesterol than chicken or fish and it's higher in protein than regular beef. It's also surprisingly high in Omega 3s and vitamin E. We offer Bison that is grass-fed, hormone- and antibiotic-free, free-roaming, and humanely field harvested. 

The Bison Chuck Roast (pictured above) is perfect for slow-cooking methods.

Elk
Elk has been dubbed "The Heart Smart Red Meat" by the American Heart Association because it is low in fat and cholesterol, and high in protein. It's not very "gamey" and tastes similar to beef, but is just different enough to peak your curiosity. 

Our Elk is field harvested making it truly wild. The Rib Rack can be prepared as a roast or cut into individual rib chops and is best prepared to medium rare.

Venison
Venison is another game meat that is extremely healthy for you. It has a wonderful woody, almost fruity flavor that can't compare to beef. The texture is similar but it's very lean (as you can see from the picture below) and requires less cooking time. 

Our Venison stew meat is a good substitute in most beef stew dishes, but its flavor is much bolder and richer. It stands up well in Bourguignon recipes like the Alsatian stew below. Trust us, it's so rich you'll only be able to finish one bowl. But oh, how we savored it!

Are you feeling confident about Game Meats now? Good! Place your order online or stop by and see us!

VENISON STEW (from Saveur Magazine)

SERVES 6

This Alsatian dish is a rich game stew, traditionally thickened with the blood of the animal. This recipe uses flour for a lighter interpretation. 

3 lbs. boneless venison shoulder, cut into large pieces
1 medium carrot, peeled and diced
1 medium yellow onion, peeled and diced
3 cloves garlic, peeled
12 sprigs fresh parsley
2 sprigs fresh thyme
2 bay leaves
15 black peppercorns
1 bottle dry hearty red wine, such as côtes-du-rhône
1/4 lb. slab bacon, sliced
2 tbsp. olive oil
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 tbsp. flour
12 small boiling onions, peeled
1 tsp. sugar
4 tbsp. butter
1/2 lb. white mushrooms, trimmed and sliced
2 tbsp. cognac

1. Combine venison, carrots, yellow onions, garlic, 2 sprigs parsley, thyme, bay leaves, peppercorns, and wine in a large bowl. Cover and refrigerate for 24 hours to tenderize venison.

2. Julienne bacon. Cook in a heavy pot or dutch oven over medium heat until crisp, 8-10 minutes. Remove with a slotted spoon; drain on paper towels.

3. Remove venison, then strain marinade into a bowl, discarding herbs and vegetables. Season meat with salt and pepper. Add oil to bacon fat in pot, increase heat to medium-high, add meat, and brown, turning occasionally, 7-10 minutes. Sprinkle flour over meat, and return bacon to pot. Cook, stirring, until flour turns a nut-brown color, about 1 minute. Add marinade, bring to a simmer, then reduce heat to medium-low, cover, and cook until venison is tender, 2-2 1/2 hours. Note: Cooking times vary. Once the meat begins to fall apart, it is done. Any longer and you risk the meat completely breaking down. 

4. Bring a medium pot of salted water to a boil. Add onions and sugar and simmer over medium heat until tender, 25-30 minutes. Drain. Heat 2 tbsp. butter in a medium skillet over medium-high heat. Add mushrooms and cook, stirring, until golden, about 3 minutes.

5. Remove venison from pot to finish sauce. Increase heat to medium-high, add cognac, and cook for 5 minutes. Remove pot from heat and whisk in remaining butter. Return venison to sauce, add onions and mushrooms, and mix thoroughly. Chop remaining parsley and sprinkle on top. Serve with slices of toasted country bread if desired.




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