Now’s the time to pull your hard-won wild game out of the freezer and explore the culinary possibilities that will make your neighbors jealous!
The smell of a barbecue or pellet grill wafting through the neighborhood is enough to start a grilling frenzy amongst the locals. I often thought local butchers should drive through residential areas with a portable barbecue, as the tantalizing aromas would have everyone flocking to their shop for a steak to throw on the grill.
There is a big difference between an excellent grilled piece of meat and one where even the dog turns up a nose. The good news is, following a few simple rules, anyone can grill like a Pit Master.
It all starts in the field, where meat care from the time an animal is harvested is critical. Think like a quality-control expert and the rest comes easy. Having the right knives for field dressing, skinning, boning, and butchering makes the process easier and safer. Check out the Cold Steel Click-N-Cut Hunters Modelreplaceable blade knife with a Bowie, a gut hook blade for field dressing, and a serrated utility blade for all-purpose chores.
Plan to Thaw
One of the best ways to thaw meat is to take the packages out of the freezer and use a sharp Cold Steel paring knife to score the wrap layers right to the frozen meat. Stand the frozen package in a colander and place it over a bowl to catch liquids draining from the meat. Place the bowl in the fridge and allow the meat to thaw under safe temperatures.
As the meat thaws, a significant amount of liquid will flow from the package. Instead of having your meat soaking in the excess blood, it drains away, keeping your meat fresh and dry. Meat that sits in the extra fluid will have a stronger taste.
Blood can have a sweet flavor and often adds a gamey edge to even good cuts of meat. Allowing the blood to drain away and not stay in direct contact with meat will give your venison a superior taste.
Butcher shops and chefs often use tenderizing knives to cut long muscles, making the meat tender. Hunters can use a tenderizing knife with a series of tiny blades that penetrate a steak or roast. Jaccard, a reputable name in home and foodservice equipment, makes a knife with 45 to 48 blades to cut every time the unit is pressed into meat. If you shot an old buck or bull and find it chewy, try a Jaccard knife and see if it makes a world of difference. The small holes cut in the meat also allow better penetration of marinade.
A marinade adds flavors and can tenderize meat. Basics include oil that helps brown the meat and hold other ingredients. Acid-based ingredients like lemon juice, apple cider vinegar, and balsamic vinegar are great options to add flavor and to tenderize. The World’s Best Marinade is below for consideration and tinkering for personal likes.
Watch the Internal Temperature
Grilling is about time and temperature. Know what you are cooking and a ballpark idea on time, and then monitor the temperature for a perfect finish. Wild game cooks much differently than domesticated meat.
The perfect temperatures are medium-rare at 130 to 135°F or medium at 135°F to 145°F. Wild game cooked well done is dry, which changes texture and flavor. Rare is also an option, cooked to 120°F to 130°F.
Wild game has little fat surrounding muscle groups (marbling). The lack of fat, an insulator, means quick cooking times—not having to heat or render fat before cooking the protein drastically reduces cooking time. Trust the thermometer and remember that hot proteins will continue cooking for at least four minutes after coming off the grill.
Preheat the grill to 450°F and know the temperature will drop to 400°F when opening to place the meat. Cook steaks, kabobs, or burgers for three minutes per side. Time the grilling process and watch the thermometer. A six-minute steak, up to 1 ½-inches thick, will be medium-rare every time.
Uniformly cut steaks to ensure the edges are as moist and flavorful as the center. Professional butcher knives, like the scimitar, butcher, or boning knives by Cold Steel, ensure clean, even cuts when quality counts and your pride is on the line.
Use natural fat to add flavor and moisture to grilling meat. Melted butter is perfect for basting wild game while cooking and when it’s hot off the grill. Wrapping meat with bacon changes cooking times and does not let the authentic flavors be the meal’s star.
When cooking hamburgers, you can add high-fat cheese, milk, or cream before cooking. The moisture content of the dairy products helps prevent the ground meat from drying out if cooking beyond medium. Bread and cracker crumbs help bind ingredients together and hold absorbed moisture. Get creative, use different cheese types, and even add some jalapeños, fresh herbs, or chopped sundried tomatoes.
Go High Tech
You can use new digital thermometers with your smartphone to notify you when your meat has reached a specific temperature. Whether you go old school or high-tech, enjoy your perfectly cooked venison.
Cold Steel Kitchen Classics Set
The Cold Steel Kitchen Classics series comes with a hardwood oak block and 12 knives. The assortment of ice-tempered, cryo-quenched, and precision flat ground 400 series steel blades cover all the culinary needs for a standard kitchen. The knives are razor sharp and easy to maintain the edge. There is a paring, boning, utility, and chef’s knife, a slicer, bread knife, and six steak knives. The set of knives is economical, but individual models can be purchased separately. The Kitchen Classics feature ergonomically designed handles with a soft-grip for durability and easy cleaning.
Camp Chef Woodwind Wifi
The Woodwind WiFi pellet grills come in seven different models covering everything from tailgating to full-blown family reunions. The units are designed for smoking and grilling to provide options for cooking and finishing a meal. A WiFi controller ensures cooking temperatures are maintained with a range of 160°F up to 500°F for slow smoking to grilling (25,000 BTU). Small units pack up for mobility, and the large ones are permanent fixtures on the deck or patio. Easy to clean, lots of rack surface area, and a grease management system make the Woodwind easy to use.
Bearded Butcher Blend Seasoning Variety 4 Pack with Sauce
Bearded Butcher seasonings will wake up your palate and bring out the best in grilling flavors. You get to choose any combination of Bearded Butcher Blend seasonings with a four-pack of spices, and they come with a 12-ounce BBQ Sauce or Rebel Red Sauce. Choose between Original, Chipotle, Cajun, Hot, Hollywood, or Black. These seasonings come in their 6-ounce shakers, and each four-pack set is the perfect gift or an excellent way to spoil yourself as a home cook. There is free shipping in the United States on all orders over $50.