Contributors to this thread:
Removing "gamey taste" from meat
Whether it's big game, small game, upland birds, waterfowl...do you have a method (other than a quick kill, cooling quickly, or sometimes shooting a "young" or "female") to reduce the strong "gamey" taste of meat. Old ways...tomato juice, milk, rice, baking soda, lots of spices, etc...
I have only shot a doe and a bull elk but I have yet to find a "gamey taste". I find the meat more flavorful than beef and bison, but never "gamey".
Don't touch or cut the tarsal glands while you skin them out, keep dirt and hair off the meat, and keep them cooled down from kill to freezer. An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.
Ok let's assume we do every thing right in the kill and handling the meat. We're now in the kitchen and we want to cook it. There are generally three differences in game from domestic stock.
Difference number one, there is generally more blood in game meat than domestic. Blood when cooked is bitter, so here's how to deal with that. Eat it raw. Seriously, try some thinly sliced venison with some soy or Worcester sauce. There is no game flavor. Of course this isn't an option for pigs, bears, or fowl. Here's the lesson, cook game fast and as rare as you can. Another way to handle the blood is by adding acidic foods and marinades. Here's where tomatoes and Italian dressing become popular. Cranberries also work.
The next major difference is texture or toughness. Remove as much connective tissue as possible before cooking. Another way to deal with the toughness is to cook low and slow. Now that contradicts what I just wrote about as fast and rare as possible, so if you go this route of low and slow, make sure you add sweet and acidic flavors to the meat.
Third major difference is fat. Usually game is leaner, much leaner. So try to add a bit of fat to the meat. Classics for this are bacon, butter, cream, and don't forget olive oil or lard.
These are just a few generalities for cooking game.
The "gamey taste" is why I eat small and big game animals. Proper preparation in the field, while transporting and then when cooking is important. Not every big game animal will "taste" the same just as pork, beef, or mutton, does not taste the same and each should be prepared slightly different. People ask me, "you ate mountain lion, You ate Mt Goat, you ate bear, your ate a big horned sheep.?" I answered, yes but they all need to be cooked differently to bring out the quality of the meat (taste). I believe the WT deer seems to have a more gamey taste only because the fat (tallow) if not removed gives the meat an different taste. The doe WT I killed this year in Nebraska, after properly field dressing it, transporting the meat on ice, preparing it properly, and then grilling the back straps just right. That was some of the best, "gamey" meat we have ever eaten. my best, Paul
I have found that in field care is the most important. The next is cooking it properly. Venison gets a real iron/metallic taste even you cook it much past medium rare. I've been using Hank Shaw recipes for all my game lately and they are amazing. They don't hide the flavor. They embrace it. Even the pheasants I shot this week made incredible pheasant noodle soup with pheasant stock made from scratch.
Last year we built a walk in cooler and now all our deer age 14-30 days. That has made a tremendous difference. All of the blood is gone, everything is incredibly tender and the flavors are amazing. We eat it 3 times a week or so all year. We often have guests over and they all keep going back for more. Every single time on all the dishes and there isn't much of s difference between a yearling Doe and a 6.5 year old buck or anything in between.
I learned how to cut it up so I don't have to deal with gamey meat, marinades, and all that other stuff.
For most game it's handling after the kill. Venison shouldn't taste gamey and if it does most likely you did something wrong. It sucks to hear but venison should be clean in taste and delicate in flavor.
Now there are other animals that definitely have a non-domestic flavor but deer, elf and moose should all be clean tasting.
Why does your game taste gamey? Left out too long, intestinal fluid, etc. tainted your meat..
"...deer, elf and moose should all be clean tasting."
Every elf I've ever eaten tasted wonderful. It's an exciting hunt too because they shoot trad bows like Levi Morgan shoots a compound, so it's pretty challenging. :)
Every elf I've eaten hasn't been that long of a hunt. :).
Agree on field care being #1 in regards to not having "gamey" meat. If you hit them right and they do a 50 yard death run, then quartered and put on ice asap they all taste good. Dry aged even better.
I can't believe some of the best tenderloin and loin I've had came off my son's 9 year old bull this year and not some cows we have shot.
Day before I cook any cut of venison I take from freezer place in pot of cold water and Kosher salt, place back in fridge. Next day rinse off salt before cooking.
Will say taste of venison from Kansas beats it from Massachusetts hands down. Taste much better! Agree with post about removing silver skin and tendon, also hair, fatEtc. That stuff gives gamey taste.
Field to freezer is important. Aging is important as it is with beef. I absolutely do not want to have bone cut whitetail. Like Paul, I have eaten moose, elk, caribou, sheep, bear, mule deer, whitetail from all over and I love them all. I actually prefer woodland whitetail over the corn fed farmland varieties. All these species have a different flavor and all of them are good. Like fine wine so of them are an aquired taste. I mean that the more I eat the more I need to squire. I do not really like lobster but I never hear anyone say that it taste gamey. I say leave it wild, embrace the wild flavor, and every time you eat wild game remind yourself that you’re no pilgrim.
Like others said, most of the time it is poor shooting, handling, or processing. But I am guessing if you are asking, it's too late for that and crap happens, right? Pretty much go for powerfully spiced dishes. Garlic, citrus, chiles, tomato, some others are great at cover-up duty. If even that doesn't do the trick, you can always go the organic dog food route and try again next year.
I agree with Paul@thefort on this.
Fat on venison is not the same as fat on bear, hog, domestic beef or pork. The fat is not tasty, and neither is the tallow inside the bones. I always take care when field dressing and skinning. And then I prepare all of meat for storage by not putting any knife through a bone. No table saw cutting steaks or a cleaver hacking through any other bone. You do not want to smear the tallow across the meat. Just a fillet knife to remove the major muscles and break down the primal cuts into roasts, steaks, cutlets and stew meat. Scraps of dedicated meat for sausage is mixed with fatty pork shoulder, then ground and seasoned and put into casings. All of the meat is them vacuumed sealed, labeled and put into the freezer.
Idylwildarcher X2 - spot on, with one modification: the very first thing I do after a kill is cut both tarsal glands off the hind legs cutting an inch or more around them to avoid touching them with the knife. Use rubber gloves. When done, go wash the knife and gloves in any nearby water or snow, and dry them off. Or your hands, same thing. Now you have reduced the chances of getting stink on your meat when gutting. And I honestly believe this also eliminates the gaminess from your meat while the animal is hanging and curing. I don't know why, but if I leave those glands on and hand the deer, it never tastes as good as when I cut them off - in every case this is true, for mine anyway. Last year was the first year I left them on (a doe, I guess that's why), and she tasted way gamier than the other one I got that I cut them off of.
that was 'hang the deer'. And I will never not cut off the tarsal glands from any deer again. I even use them on scrapes sometimes if I decide to keep them. Put in two ziplock bags and a couple plastic grocery bags and freeze - they call in coyotes too.
A little vinegar and water, soak 5-10 minutes rinse before spicing or marinating.
As others have mentioned if its too gamey something went wrong with the handling and processing. Get em done ASAP after harvesting, skin to release the heat, remove as much fat and sinew, white membrane/silver skin as possible.
I run a check station every fall and run through about 50 - 60 deer. It amazes me at the poor care I see with a lot of the deer. Some are so rank is be looking for a ditch to get rid of the deer rather than feed it to my family! If you want good meat take care of it quickly, get it on ice and let it sit at least a week - I prop the cooler up and pull the plug so it will drain and add ice as needed. Remove the fat, deer fat does not taste like beef fat. I remove the connective tissue as well. I also butcher it myself. All those poorly taken care of deer I talked about at the beginning are headed to the local meat locker to get mixed on with your well taken care of deer!
Keep it clean, keep it cool and remove the fat and silverskin. Then enjoy it for what it isn't. It isn't a cow, so don't expect it to taste like one. I think that is the big point on the issue. Some folks expect it to NOT taste different than beef, which it isn't. Learn to appreciate the flavor of what you are putting on your plate. Treat it as the delicacy that it is.
lee is right on the money. Completely agree, I'd never take my deer or any game to be processed. Most people, if you look at their lawns and see scatter everywhere, old junk, etc., take care of the inside of their house, their kids, their health, their food and their dear animals the same way... ;) I don't want any of their lousy meat polluting mine that's for sure. I do hang my deer for a week with the skin on though. Just make sure its below 40 if you do that. Skin on doesn't hurt anything if it cools quickly and is not dirty or too bloody. Wipe off all the loose hair and don't get it on any meat. Leaving the hide on prevents it all from drying out. If warmer, to 55F, skin it and cover the whole skinned animal or quarters with plastic sheeting to keep it from drying out. If above 55 for a sustained length of time, put in a meat locker or cut it up.
IMHO overcooking makes venison taste gamey. Cook to about 135-140 or medium/ m rare.
What you do in the first 5 to 10 minutes after you walk up to the animal you just killed is THE most important thing you can do to affect the quality of the meat. Other than the obvious reality of removing the entrails as cleanly as possible, you must also make sure that you do all you can do dissipate the body heat from the carcass. The colder the temperature the easier/quicker this will be.
Most of the time I leave the animal after I gut it for a time to either go get my truck and/or someone/something to help me get it out. Because of this I will cut a stick to prop the chest cavity open and make sure the animal is on it's back to let that heat out. The colder the day the better. If it's warm I always make sure I have ice bags on hand to put in the body cavity after I get it to the truck. If it's warm I also will remove the trachea right up to where it goes into the head, unless of course it's a head I want to mount.
I've been doing this for 50 years like I was taught by my elders and in that amount of time I've only had ONE animal that was "gamey".........and that was the one I took to a processor. My common sense tells me the meat I got back was NOT from the deer I brought there!
If you take meat to a processor all bets are off, ESPECIALLY with the scrap!!!
Game taste? Here's my method. As you said get the hide off and meat cooling without puncturing a gut or urinary tract. When butchering I remove all the silver skin and slime. Takes a while but it's worth the effort. I wrap with both Saran wrap and freezer paper. I think some of that wild taste is misdiagnosed with freezer burn. I've tasted some from others that was as tough as leather and tasted so bad I wanted to gag lol. I don't get the game taste for some reason.....
I haven't tried this with meat, but with fish that has a very strong fishy taste, I soak in whole milk over night and rinse good prior to cooking, it completely removes the strong fishy flavor.
One solution for steaks that may not be the "prime cuts"...meticulously trim out fat and connective tissue, then pound a little flour into the meat with a meat mallet. Egg wash and dredge in bread crumbs (or Panko), and fry it up. Even the kids will gobble them up!
Best of Luck, Jeff
Had a friend ate mergansers. And they were living on the ocean. What they did was filet the breasts and soak in buttermilk overnight.
I've eaten them and they were good.
If you're asking how to make venison not taste like venison, I guess the easiest and cheapest method is to quit hunting and buy beef and pork.
Define "gamey". To me it is a liver taste. Since we began processing our own meat , field to freezer we just don't have that problem. Game species are different animals, pun intended, and shouldn't be expected to taste like beef for instance. Geese to my personal taste are the only "gamey" meet and that could be the way I have had it prepared.
"Eliminate tendons, muscle meat, etc."
What is "muscle meat"?
" Since we began processing our own meat , field to freezer we just don't have that problem."
I'm with Paul! I'm continually shocked by the people who hunt who don't want their wild game to taste like wild game!
But if you want it to taste the best: 1. Good shooting/field care/cool down 2. Cut it up and package it for the freezer correctly 3. Learn to cook the stuff!
Folks spend so much time and effort to kill something, then totally crap out on preparing the meat. There is absolutely NO excuse to waste game meat by cooking it poorly. Wild game is some of the most expensive meat out there based on dollars spent to acquire it, so don't just grind it all or overcook it into oblivion just because "that's the way we've always done it."
Seriously, sous vide cooking has changed how I see deer steaks. Do what these other guys say as far as meat prep, but if you want exponentially better steaks, (or pheasant or rabbit -- which we've done), try getting a sous vide cooker.
Meat IS muscle......and vice versa.....right?
^^^kind of what I was thinking...
Then clarify 'muscle'....
I salvage every scrap. Not a speck of fat remains. Very tedious but worth it. The sinuey stuff, the lower leg meat, goes in the crockpot and the silverskin dissolves, becomes gelatinous, and gets ingested as gravy where it provides good nutrition for maintaining healthy connective tissue attached to the meat in my own body. You know, MUSCLE!!!
"...try getting a sous vide cooker. "
Next appliance on my list, Deertick!
LOL! 'Up there'! Speaking of chilling out, you could use a good snow dump it seems... Or some nice tender gator steak. ;^) Yum. Armadillo loins... mmmm mmm good. possum grits.. :P
When EF Hutton speaks, do people listen?
I'm not trying to belittle him at all. I just don't understand that statement about muscle not being meat. Or is that not what he meant? We all are guilty of not explaining ourselves well once in a while.
I've heard people say "bone blood" when trailing a deer and didn't know what that was either, or how you could even tell. That's why I asked. Never heard if it before.
But after explaining, it's referring to the shank ends where a lot of sinew and tendons are - the reason you need a toothpick sometimes.
And gator steaks are delicious, by the way.
Throwing away the shanks would literally bring a tear to my eye. Some of the most delicious meat on the deer, second only to the loins.
x10.......Once you process your own from field to skillet, most of the wildness of the flavor dissipates. But I can't throw a steak of venison on the grill and eat it, because I don't particularly care for the flavor.....but give me some stew meat, chili or whole backstrap slow cooked and I love it!
Soak it in whole milk, or better yet, buttermilk overnight, and rinse before cooking. It helps tenderize it without drying it out. My buddies had clue about doing this and couldn't believe how much better my venison was compared to theirs. I eventually let them in on the trick and they enjoy their own venison much more now.
So my next question is: how does processing your own make the "gamey-ness" disappear?
Bear Track's Link
I used to gut Deer and Elk and found the only gamey cut was the tenderloins. Then I realized that after gutting, the tenders then marinated in blood from the chest cavity. I have since then (several years ago) went to the gutless method. Best thing I ever did and the tenders don't marinate in blood and god knows what else. Now the tenders are just as good as the backstraps and no longer taste gamey. I take field care VERY seriously because I killed that critter to eat it. I process my own and you will find it's very enjoyable and you can make cuts based on how you want to cook them. Just smoked a whole Javelina hind and it was delightful! I also save the bones and roast them and make game stock. I took the animals life and try to use as much as I can.
I can't remember the last time I had beef, and honestly I have lost the "taste" for it after eating only game meat for the last several years
I've eaten WAY over 100 deer and wouldn't walk across the street for a barbequed deer steak. We have been using a marinade that guaranteed will nock your socks off and today I'd build a bridge for a barbequed marinated deer steak. Email me and I'll share it.
Bloodtrail: Send your steaks to me....I'll grill them!!!!
It all starts with how the meat's taken care of in the field. Get the hide off as soon as possible to allow body heat to dissappate. Keep body fluid away from the meat as much as possible. Keep the meat clean and get it in a quality game bag ASAP. The gutless method makes all this very easy.
DO NOT overcook game meat! The more the meat is cooked, the more the blood will putrefy , causing the "gamey" taste. Medium rare, and it's as tender and tasty as it gets!
Ain’t no such animal as games ! Paul has it right !
IMHO of course....
This one had been dead for close to 7 hrs before the hide was taken off. Delicious just the same.
Hey Mr. Hutton, how about you freeze those front legs and send them over my way, I'll properly dispose of them for you...
try canning meat and see what you think of the flavor change. Its amazing.
I'm starting to get the feeling that, besides the other things, there is something seriously wrong with me.
I like venison pretty much any way it's cooked, including simply fried.
Just like the butcher I grind all the sinew right up with the other muscle, which I obviously mistakenly thought was meat.
Is there hope for me?????
I find it funny that beef to me taste gamey and venison is great. Think years of only eating wild game (for red meat) I can’t eat beef anymore. No hope for me either.
I didn't even know there was an elf season! Can you hunt the South Pole ones? I hear they are angry!
One way to go not let meat spoil. Don’t leave it out all day in the sun.
I’ve never had gamey meat. I have meat that wasn’t take care of properly.
Learned this a few years ago about cooking lamb and decided to try it when I cooked venison for people who said they did not care for the Gamey taste of wild game and you will be amazed at how well it works . Marinate it in orange juice for at least 2 hours to over night. Take it out pat it dry and cook as you like . That’s it . Give it a try .
Soak it in ice water for 24 hours. The cold water draws the blood out. Its the blood that makes wild game taste "gamey".
HDE, I have had gator a couple times, but both times it was like chewing on an elastic hatband. Must have been from leg muscle. Didn't taste too bad though...Kinda like white jerky. Also, I have (and almost always do), left the hide on my deer and elk (in cold conditions) for a week or sometimes more. It is just as tasty, and the muscle doesn't dry out. I live 'up there' though, so its cold enough to do that. 8>D
From LINK: "IMHO overcooking makes venison taste gamey". That is 100% true, for venison, as you go from medium rare to well done, it does have a stronger game flavor(and tough as well). I agree field handling/care and all of that stuff plays a big part as well, but some people kill the animal a second time with cooking. Venison has a distinct flavor that should not be confused with being "gamey".
Speaking of 'W', think Union.
Toby, what is that? I'm salivating all over my keyboard.
Common sense from field dressing to stove.
1. Keep meat as clean as possible.
2. keep meat cooled.
3. Remove all fat and sinew.
4. Know how to cook.
Ron, that is a rolled, stuffed venison roast. Stuffed with some onions, peppers and some pesto to medium rare. Got to beat my kids back with a stick at the dinner table when this is served :)
Before taking my deer to a processor, it is THOROUGHLY rinsed out with hose water. Several times, until the water running out of the cavity is mostly clear. Since starting to do this, no deer has tasted "gamey", despite the fact that it is typically oven cooked without any marinates or sauces. This includes deer not recovered until the next day and in temperatures above 50F. Also, deer that have not been field dressed "cleanly" since I'm not the best with a knife.
As mentioned in other posts, I suspect it is residual blood that causes the gamey flavor.
I'm with LKH....I love venison everyway I make it and can never tell if it was a buck or doe, old or young....I just love venison. I'll also echo what the others have said...learn to butcher your own and you will love it more. I have had 1 deer processed in my nearly 30 years of hunting and that will be the only one ever if I can help it. I love every part of deer hunting which includes dressing and processing the animal.
I have ate well over 100 deer and elk bison alligator turtle antelope sheep bear moose mountain goat ibex barbery orynx Horse and too many kinds of fish and fowl to list.
Bison is by far the best and cow elk is amazing. Alligator is great but A lot of cuts and all of old alligators are tough.
One thing a lot of people forgot about his fresh always blows away frozen. I eat as much as I can without freezing.
I do not like Whitetail deer but on verification can marinate it and cook it to the point it is good and I have a root beer pot roast recipe that is great.
My favorite marinades are liquid smoke and water, Italian dressing and oil. I like my steaks blue which is actually a temperature below rare.
I did not grow up hunting or eating venison maybe then I would have liked the gamy taste but I definitely do not.
I personally have not noticed a big difference in flavor by leading an animal age it always seems to make it more tender.
I have butterflied backstrap leaving the sinew and specifically cut that piece off and ate it and it tasted the same to me just a little tougher.
In general and all but during the rut does not taste as good as a young doe taken in cold weather.
tobywon: How DARE you post a pic like that and then NOT GIVE A RECIPE!!!!!
You are one MEAN dude!!! ;-)
Woods Walker, I posted this on the recipe thread a while back if that counts :)
Rolled stuffed venison roast. I use a rear roast and butterfly open. On this one, I brushed the inside with some pesto and sautéd some onions, peppers and add some Italian bread crumbs. You can stuff with whatever you like, I had pesto in the fridge and decided to use it. Roll roast and tie or toothpick together. Some people wrap in bacon and weave to keep the roast together and add moisture. I just coated the outside with olive soil, salt and pepper. Oven 325 degrees for about 30 minutes per pound and check internal temp for 125 degrees. I remove from oven and cover loosely with foil and let rest for 5 to 8 minutes. Medium rare is the key. Enjoy!!
I knew a German Woman who made unbelievable sauerbraten, she told me the trick with any meat, especially game meat is to soak it overnight in Butter milk. Had to be butter milk...something about the enzymes.
bb you my Mom says they did the same thing (she's 100% German).
I'll say it again. Don't over cook it and age if you can. This backstrap ( dry aged 25 days) is about perfectly pan seared with hen of the woods and caramelized onions. Everyone absolutely hammered it when I cooked it this weekend. Even folks who don't really eat venison.
I'll say it again - properly handled venison (deer) should not be gamey. If it's gamey then it wasn't handled correct.
I do think research should be done to see if a small % of people have chemical reaction to venison like they do to Cilantro. It's all I can think of because every once-in-a-while I will meet someone who will say, "I've tried it a few ways and it always tastes funny."
"I'll say it again - properly handled venison (deer) should not be gamey. If it's gamey then it wasn't handled correct."
Good advice above-- definitely avoid all muscle meat! I hate that stuff! I find it's the worst in deer venison, but occasionally it's bad in pig pork too. :)
I agree with Woods Walker, if it's gamey, someone dropped the ball.
I 100% agree with Paul@the fort. I eat game meat because it tastes much, much better than beef. Not to mention far healthier. If I didn't like the taste of wild game, I wouldn't hunt.
Back in the day when deer had to be checked in at a station you would not believe the number of deer that would come in w/ the a-hole still fully intact. So that means if they gutted it they just cut the colon or large intestines and what was left is now swimming in the small pool of blood left in the cavity.
I remember back in those days seeing deer be brought in that HADN'T been gutted yet!!!
One time I saw a pickup with the tailgate down that had 2 does in it. I saw them from about 25 yards away and thought..."WOW! Those are some big does!" When I got closer I saw they weren't big, just bloated. Imagine having your deer done at the same processor as they went to and you getting some of that scrap in your burger or sausage......YUCK!!! "Gamey"?? HELL YEAH!
Never got anything other than whitetail. Remove as much tallow as possible, remove as many membranes as possible, especially the silver skin.
I have personally seen over 200 deer from field to table. None of them were disaster in the field.
Gamy taste has been there many times when I did not expect it and not been there many times when I did.
Maybe it is because I’ve never miss handled meet the field but I definitely do not see any correlation with gamey taste and field handling.
I treat my elk the same as my deer but they always taste 10 times better.
I agree with Donv. While mishandling venison is pretty much a sure bet of gamey tasting venison, not mishandling is not a guarantee that the venison won’t be gamey.
I want to remove the beefy taste from beef
Wrap it in Bacon is what I always do!
I'm seriously starting to think some % of people have a chemical reaction to venison like they do for Cilantro.
DonV is a great case study. He clearly tastes a strong flavor while me and my entire family gorge on venison all year long and my wife is averse to strong flavors so if venison did have it she wouldn't be eating it 5+ times a week.
I have another friend that is the same as DonV.
Obviously mishandled game taints the study but if you controlled the handling of the meat and had lets say 500 people you could get to a relatively stable conclusion.