Posted by: jiminmontana | December 17, 2009

Wild Game Meat Preparation — Trimming, Buttermilk, & Enzymes

How do you get the “gaminess” out of wild meat to make it more like beef?  Even though I prefer the elk’s flavor to beef, I gotta make other people happy, too.  Here’s how. 

First, spend time on the meat in the raw.  Trim away as much of the “non-meat” as possible.  Some call it “blue tendon”.  Properly, it’s called fascia, but it is the “non-meat” stuff that separates the various muscle groups.  If your fresh elk or deer has that crazy wild flavor, here is your primary source.  If the meat is kinda frozen, it makes the trimming easier.  And sharpen your knife every 20 minutes.   If cooking roast, your goal is NOT to have a huge piece of meat in the pot as with a rump roast of beef.  No.  Cook smaller pieces of meat, and more of them, having most pieces the size of a coffee mug — you will have needed to make them smaller due to the trimming process between the parts of the meat.  Some will be longer and thinner than is the “ideal” piece of roast.  Just make it taste “ideal”. 

Maybe the meat was not prepared perfectly before if was frozen.  Since it takes about 10 hours to cut and package an elk, this is to be expected — I got darn tired of doing it!  So when I thaw out a package of “roast”, I get it out of the package while still somewhat frozen to trim it as needed while the meat is still firm and easy to work.

Soak this prepared meat in a 50/50 solution of buttermilk and water for a full day.  Move the meat around a few times so the milk solution gets all over.  To cook, rinse off the milk. 

Don’t serve tough cuts as though they weren’t.  If you have a family member who is PICKY about tenderness, then use papain as a natural meat tenderizing enzyme.  It comes from the papaya plant.  Bromelian (from pineapples) is equally good, but may be harder to find.  First, “fork” the roast 100 times with a 2 pronged meat fork to let the enzymes in.  Then add 1 T of the tenderizing enzyme per quart of water and mix throughout.  Let the meat soak for another 8 hours.  You can also inject the solution into the roast if you really want to nail it, but then soak for only 4 hours.  These enzymes operate best at room temperature to 100 degrees or so — they are not denatured until above 170 degrees!  That is unusually high as far as enzymes go.  That means that the inside of your medium steak will never get hot enough to stop the enzymes from tenderizing your meat.  Any left-overs will likely become MUSHY after another day in the fridge, so just make what you plan to use immediately.  They operate best at a neutral pH, so don’t try this while making a saurbraten or vinegar-based marinade. 

If you brown the meat prior to wet-roasting (as you ought), dry the meat well with paper towels.  Put 1 T of corn oil, grape seed oil, or peanut oil in the skillet so the meat doesn’t stick.  SEAR the outside of the meat all over using high heat.  Now you are ready for a proper wild game experience.  (I love olive oil, but it cannot take the heat needed here.  One, it will smoke.  Two, it turns to transfat at these extremes.)

Finally, don’t put DULL KNIVES on the table.  Really good steak houses keep their knives sharp all the time.  If your people have to SAW their steaks — even if it is a really good steak — their minds will be prejudiced  from the outset.

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  1. [...] (or beef or venison) in Sour Cherry Sauce First, see my post regarding the preparation of wild game:  to trim carefully and soak in buttermilk the day before you cook.  The steaks are initially [...]


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