When it comes to cooking wild game or wild birds, most cook it just like they would the meat and fowls they would buy from a store.
But unlike store-bought meat, getting wild game or wild birds requires a person to go out in mountains and kill the bird or animal. It also requires the hunter to plan how they will care for the meat once they bag their game so it doesn’t spoil.
Utahns like Paul Servey, John Burrell, Ralph Andersen and Thayne Stokes spend time during the fall hunting for deer, elk, antelope, moose, ducks, geese, chukars, pheasants and grouse.
All of them agree that once they bag their game, what happens right after is what makes the difference in taste.
Stokes, who is co-owner of C&S Meats in West Haven, said he has partially retired from the butcher business. He’s been butchering cows, pigs and wild game for the past 50 years.
Stokes also was raised on deer meet and prefers a deer steak over a beef steak any day.
His butcher shop will not accept any wild game that comes in dirty and sour smelling.
“If you don’t get it skinned and cooled down properly, they will sour and become inedible,” Stokes said.
Stokes said a lot of people like to have their deer or elk made up into jerky or sausage. He prefers a good deer or elk steak, dipped in flour, salt and peppered, and grilled.
Servey, of Kaysville, has hunted all of his life, starting out with his dad.
“The biggest thing in taking care of your meat is keeping it clean and cooled down,” Servey said.
Servey said he and his family like to hunt in the back country, so there are generally no vehicles close by once they make a kill. They debone the elk or deer on the spot and get it into pine trees as quickly as possible so it can cool.
Servey said once he gets the meat back to his home, he then puts it inside a refrigerator he has specifically for his meats. He lets the meat age between five and seven days before he and his wife cut it up into steaks and roasts.
As for cooking the meat, he uses it in any recipe that calls for beef.
“We don’t treat it any different,” Servey said. “We just love all the cuts, the steaks, the stew meat, the roasts.”
Burrell, a retired orthopedic surgeon from South Ogden, has been hunting big game, upland birds and waterfowl since he carried an BB gun walking behind his father. He agreed it’s important to cool down the meat as soon as possible.
One recipe he likes involves jalapeno or habanero peppers, bacon and either doves or chukars.
Burrell said he pounds out the breasts so they are thin, rolls them around the peppers, then wraps the breast with bacon. He puts the bacon wrapped breast on a grill and cooks it until the bacon is cooked.
Burrell said the biggest mistake people make when cooking elk or deer is overcooking the meat. Wild game has little fat in it, so if it is overcooked, it looses its flavor.
Andersen, of West Point, loves to go pheasant hunting. One of his favorite recipes is one he and his wife, Carol Andersen, have used for all types of fowls.
“We just cook them in the crock pot,” Andersen said.
Andersen says they put pheasant breasts in the crock pot, mix together two cans of cream of chicken soup with a “dash of milk to make it creamy,” and a bit of salt and pepper. They let it cook between six and eight hours, then serve it with baked potatoes.
“The gravy is amazing,” Andersen said. He said his wife also makes a really good applesauce barbecue sauce they use on the birds.
“It is one of our favorites,” he said.
Find a few of the Anderson’s recipes below. The Utah State University Extension Service also has wild game recipes on its website.
Marinade for deer, elk or duck
Recipe by John Burrell
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 3 teaspoons soy sauce
- 1 teaspoon or more minced garlic
Mix together. Add Montreal Steak Spice to taste. Rub on both sides of steaks. Let marinate for at least two hours. Barbecue until medium rare.
Crock pot applesauce pheasants/chicken
Recipe by Carol Andersen
- Four pheasant breasts or chicken breasts
- 1/2 teaspoon pepper
- 2/3 cup of brown sugar/hickory barbecue sauce
- 2/3 cup chunky applesauce
- 2 tablespoons brown sugar
- 1 teaspoon chili pepper
Spray crock pot with non-stick spray or line it with crock pot liner for easy clean up.
Place pheasant or chicken breasts in bottom of crock pot.
Mix remaining ingredients together and pour over the pheasant or chicken.
Cook on low 6 to 8 hours. Serves four.