Ever go to a fancy restaurant and see a rare and astonishingly expensive meat dish on the menu? Venison, bison, elk, wild boar, rabbit, pheasant, and even more exotic fare – are all available to us. Once exclusive to hunters, wild game meats are now a rising star in the culinary industry. Dishes that include these game meats tend to cost more than your average beef or chicken because of their rarity and lack of domestication.
Price aside, there may be health benefits in choosing them as your alternative. Perhaps you may want to avoid shelling out the cash at restaurants on a regular basis, so you’ll be glad to hear that these meats are also available for in-home cooking.
The market for these meats is exponentially growing for the right reasons, too. Wild game meats not only tend to be more flavorful, but they are head-and-shoulders above typical meat products when it comes to health benefits.1
Benefits Of Wild Game Vs. Conventional Meats
Wild game is surprisingly leaner, relatively higher in Omega-3 fatty acids, lower in cholesterol (due to the low saturated fat content), as well as devoid of steroids, antibiotics and other additives because of their natural origin and active ways of life. 2
When compared to domestic animals such as cows and chickens, game meats have an average of 4.3% fat while their domesticated competitors typically have a fat content of 25-30%. Not just any fat either. We’re talking a lot less saturated fat (aka the bad fat) and a much higher proportion of polyunsaturated fatty acids (aka the good fat). Additionally, the protein, vitamin, and mineral composition of wild game stands to compete with its domesticated competitors, especially when it comes to zinc and iron. This is due to their natural diet of wild vegetation as opposed to grain and corn. 3
And let’s not forget about the clinical implications of high saturated fat diets, such as chronic inflammation, which is a significant contributor to dozens of chronic diseases.4 Recent studies from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) have even found positive associations between red meat intake and liver cancer, while game meat or “white meat” may be associated with reduced risk.5 Sound like a pretty great deal, right?
It’s worth mentioning that until roughly 10,000 years ago, domesticated animals did not exist. People had no option but to hunt for wild game, which we now know is very lean and contains a healthier ratio of fatty acids. Wild game is the original grass-fed, free-range, sustainable meat source. So get in touch with your primal self and eat the meats that made us human. Your body and taste buds will be glad you did.
How To Choose & Cook Wild Game Meat
If you’re looking to get on the wild game bandwagon, it may be important to consider a few things when choosing which type to consume.
If you’re wondering about the variety of cuts available, burgers, roasts and steaks are the most common options, and sausages for most game is a surprisingly lean choice.
When it comes to cooking wild game, you may be interested to know that the guidelines are pretty similar to how you would cook any red meat. There is only one hard-set rule with cooking wild meats: don’t overcook.
As previously mentioned, wild game is very lean, which means that if you cook it too long, the meat is sure to dry out big time. If it’s your first time cooking these gamey meats, keep a close eye on the clock to ensure it’s prepared just right.
In terms of preparation techniques, you are free to use any method – searing, grilling, roasting or even slow-cooking.6
Are There Any Wild Game Meats I Should Probably Not Eat?
Like all meat products, contamination is a risk. It is highly recommended that you apply good sanitation practices when handling raw meat to avoid the spread of bacteria, viruses and even parasites. It is particularly vital to avoid handling directly when you have an open wound on your hand. In general, the Department of Health suggests that you wear nitrile, rubber or plastic protective gloves while preparing wild game in any manner.7
As long as you handle the meat appropriately and cook the meat well enough, go ahead and get adventurous.
Where Can I Find Wild Game To Cook At Home?
If you’re looking for a place to buy high-quality wild game meats, you’re in luck. Their growing popularity has set the stage for a number of companies to expand their offerings to include premium quality wild game meats. A few of the top distributors with a mission to broaden your meat-eating horizons include D’Artagnan, Steaks and Game, Fossil Farms, and Broken Arrow Ranch.8
Eating to get lean doesn’t have to mean eating the same old boring chicken and beef. Wild game may be a new fad on the nutrition front, but it’s a trend that’s here to stay. The high-protein, low-fat composition of these meats makes them perfect for your fat loss nutrition plan. Don’t forget to prepare accordingly, and enjoy this delightfully delicious and nutritious movement.
Do you cook wild game at home? Have any great recipes? We’d love to know them, so share in the comments below!
- Available at: http://bowhunting.net/artman/publish/article_1002.shtml January 24, 2016. ↩
- D’amato ME, Alechine E, Cloete KW, Davison S, Corach D. Where is the game? Wild meat products authentication in South Africa: a case study.Investig Genet. 2013;4(1):6. ↩
- Available at: http://www.livestrong.com/article/349448-what-are-the-health-benefits-of-wild-game/Accessed January 24, 2016. ↩
- Available at:http://nutritionfacts.org/video/modern-meat-not-ahead-of-the-gameAccessed January 24, 2016. ↩
- Freedman ND, Cross AJ, Mcglynn KA, et al. Association of meat and fat intake with liver disease and hepatocellular carcinoma in the NIH-AARP cohort. J Natl Cancer Inst. 2010;102(17):1354-65. ↩
- Available at: http://www.streetdirectory.com/food_editorials/cooking/meat_recipes/how_to_choose_and_prepare_wild_game_meats.htmlAccessed January 24, 2016. ↩
- Available at: http://www.health.ny.gov/environmental/outdoors/fish/health_advisories/advice_on_eating_game.htmAccessed January 24, 2016. ↩
- Available at: http://gourmetfood.about.com/od/wheretobuygourmetfoods/tp/wildgameshop.htmAccessed January 24, 2016. ↩
Great article! I recently completed the builtlean 8 week program and ate whitetail deer meat almost every day to fulfill my protein requirements. It worked perfectly and tasted great. To an avid hunter like myself this article is a tremendous resource. I will add that out of all of the different types of wild game I have eaten, rabbit is by far the most lean and dry (and frequently the toughest). I’ve only been able to eat it in a stew or smothered in a creamy sauce (not the healthiest choice). I’m not sure why rabbit is this way. Deer and elk have less fat but are much easier to keep tender and moist when grilled or pan-fried. Thanks for sharing another amazing article!
Thanks for sharing your insights about wild game, Luke. And pumped to hear you finished the program! Hope you have been able to check out the revised 12-week version.
Most of the wild game I eat is elk, white tail deer, and moose. The suggestion to not dry out the meat is critical, especially if cooking for others that may be a bit pickier about their food than you, like a wife & daughter in my case. Especially on larger cuts, my two go to methods are 1) pressure cooker, or 2) brine if baking, grilling, or broiling. Brine is basically putting the meat in salt water for X# of hours & is a super easy way to keep meats moist. Just Google search how to do it.
Easy game recipe. works well for whitetail deer and wild pig. Put 3-4 lb of meat in slow cooker or crockpot. Add wanted veggies. Onions, celery, broccoli, sweet potatoes, beans, etc. Do not drain veggies if using canned. Cook on low for 12-18 hrs. season to taste.
Do not add water(other than about 1/8″ on bottom of pan because wild game retains more water than domesticated meats) for first 4-5 hrs then add as needed. If you want the “pulled” type, most meat will easily break apart after 10-12 hrs. enjoy. I have used this method and it works consistently. Makes good chili, stew, bbq, etc.
Thanks for sharing that recipe, Sam! It definitely sounds delicious, and it seems like a great way to prep meals to have you covered for a few days.
-Kristin, BuiltLean Coach & Managing Editor
I am from South Africa. I have the pleasure of eating zebra, warthog, eland, springbuck, ostrich and crocodile meat quite often.