Taking Proper Care of Our Delectable Outdoor Bounty

Good-tasting game is no accident.

Avoiding the “gamey” taste that turns off the taste buds of dining companions is a rather uncomplicated process, requiring proper planning and preparation.

To quote what is known as the British Army 7Ps adage: “Proper Planning and Preparation Prevents Piss Poor Performance.”

The first step, once an animal is on the ground, is to don a pair of disposable surgical gloves, available at most grocery stores or pharmaceutical supply facilities, before starting the field dressing process.

Using a sharp knife, carefully cut through the hide and skin all along the belly and chest of the animal, making sure the knife stays well away from the intestines and other organs. Smooth, skillful cuts that avoid cutting loose the hair of the animal will prevent tainting the meat. Take care to never touch the meat of the animal with hands or gloves that have touched the animal’s hide or hair.

Once the insides have been carefully removed, rinse the body cavity with clean, cold water. Unless you have access to a walk-in cooler, the animal should be skinned and quartered as soon as possible, with the meat put on ice in an ice chest to prevent spoilage.

One pair of gloves should used for field dressing, and then a second clean pair is necessary for skinning the animal. A third pair is brought into play for the quartering process.

The triple play of new gloves for every process with help avoid adding a “gamey” taste to your future dining delight.

Meat from the quartered animal can be kept covered with ice in a cooler for several days as long as new ice is added as necessary and water is drained from the ice chest on a regular basis. The meat will not soak up any water if it is handled in this manner.

In most cases, the two back straps can be cut into medallions for grilling wrapped in bacon and heavily seasoned (grilled venison should be cooked only until it is medium rare) or pounded thin, battered and chicken-fried; hams can be sliced into round steaks or trimmed for ground meat; shoulders can be left whole as a roast or cut up for ground meat; and any other trimmings go into the ground meat pile. An excellent hamburger mix is 60 percent ground beef brisket and 40 percent ground venison.

To preserve the flavor of the meat, wrap processed cuts in freezer paper, tape the package closed and then use a home vacuum-packaging system to seal the meat in air-free bags or containers.

Using a vacuum sealer prevents air from reaching the meat and can increase the safe freezer storage time by a year or more.

The following recipes from Old Boot’s collection are just a sample of tips and savory offerings available to outdoor enthusiasts of all ages as a fine way to turn properly prepared game and fish dishes into excellent table fare.

Chef Ralph’s Wild Game Quisada

  • 2 pounds venison round steak, cubed
  • Chef Ralph’s Super Seasoning, to taste
  • 1 cup seasoned flour
  • 1/4 cup bacon grease or olive oil
  • 1 cup fresh or canned salsa
  • 1 container (16 ounces) prepared French onion dip
  • 2 cans (14 ounces each) beef broth
  • 1 package (8 ounces) cream cheese, cubed

Season cubed meat (cut in about half-inch pieces) with Chef Ralph’s or your own combination of salts and peppers. Place seasoned pieces in a resealable plastic bag along with the seasoned flour (one tablespoon of Chef Ralph’s to one cup of flour is a good mix). Close bag and shake well to coat. Heat bacon grease or oil over medium high heat in a cast iron Dutch oven or deep skillet. Brown floured and seasoned venison cubes on all sides. Reduce heat to medium low and add remaining ingredients, except cream cheese, stirring well. Cover and simmer about 30 minutes to an hour. Stir in cream cheese and simmer another five to 10 minutes, stirring occasionally until cream cheese is well incorporated and helps thicken the mixture. Serve in warm flour tortillas or over fresh homemade mashed potatoes.