February 05, 2022
The air is chilling, the pollen is starting, and the wind has been crazy every day. Yes, our sort of mantra has been to get outdoors… but when you can’t stay out for more than ten minutes without a chapped face and stiff fingers, it probably isn't a great idea to be shooting out there. (On the other hand, we do have an indoor range at Bowtreader!🙌)
It is, however, burn season (only when the wind ISN’T crazy) which provides new opportunities to clear the woods before turkey season starts and it's time to plant a garden.
Oh yeah, and turkey season — that’s coming faster than you think! We're gearing up here and helping you to gear up with whatever you
In more than just one way.
If you have somehow avoided the hearts tacked up everywhere, we’ll have you know that Valentine’s Day is in just a little over a week from now. The day is conveniently at a time when people are already cuddling up inside from the cold to have a good meal together.
What that also means? It’s time to get cooking.
We won’t make you have a pity party. If you don’t “have anyone” this Valentine’s Day, it still means it’s time to cook. Because frankly, single people get hungry too😉. And whether you're single, have a family, or are still a party of two, there's nothing like a warm meal on these cold days!
What makes warm meals better? The satisfaction and meaning of knowing that you harvested the food yourself.
Chances are, if you hunted last year, there is some game meat laying around in your freezer that is just begging to be cooked. But as much as we would like it to be different, the idea of game meat sounds like nothing but “gamey” to most people. Don’t know if we can start a revolution — but some of our tips are sure to change the minds of whoever you want to impress this Valentine’s Day — maybe even yours too!
We want you to have a good experience with cooking and processing your own meat — so from years of experimenting, trial and error, this is the list of tips we have compiled!
Alright, chances are if you hunted last season, you have already passed this opportunity. Otherwise, you have a deer or duck laying around somewhere that hasn’t been cleaned… if that is the case, we suggest you throw it away.
Although the season has passed, this still has to be included as a point because it's so important to how your meat comes out in the end!
Everything in the process matters. The deer (or duck, or quail, or moose, or bear, or any other animal) you shoot, the way you harvest it, what it has been eating, what climate you're in, and even where you shoot it are all things that play a role.
Some of those aren’t things you can control. What you can control? The way you treat your meat the
The first step is to keep it clean. This is sensitive to the cleanliness of the area, sure, but it also takes temperature as a factor and a host of other environmental aspects. Needless to say, as great as the outdoors is, there are germs out there, which means the first step to preparing your meat is always sensitive to the sanitary condition of it.
As the person taking part in the entire process from the beginning to the shot itself, you are the best person to judge how it should be cleaned. Starting with the general things, like cleaning your animal of foreign objects and dirt is one of the first steps, along with keeping the meat cold and dry.
Make sure you keep it fresh — it is never a good idea to go longer than you need to without removing the inedible parts. That means, yes, no hanging ducks upside down until their heads are weighing off their bodies or sketchy directions to freeze your deer whole. Bad idea.
Then you are ready to get to the details — doing this part yourself is what matters more than anything.
Most of the gamey flavors credited to game meat are a result of poor cleaning. Whether it's an issue that occurred out in the field with keeping the animal sanitary, the mistake of using a filthy cooler, or more commonly, something that happened during the cleaning process itself, many people can go wrong here and it really makes a difference.
Get picky about what you leave on the meat. This isn’t to say "all deer fat is bad" and that you can’t leave a little or "all bear fat is just too gamey." But most of it is.
Believe it or not, while there is little fat on wild animals, the fat that they have is stuff they actually use. Their tallow is like the glue that holds them together and connects all of their muscles for a singular strength. It isn’t just a supplemented substance hanging off their body to produce flavor — it's a functional tool, which is pretty darn awesome! But it also tastes about as good as Elmer’s glue. So please take our advice, and cut as much as you can off.
The silver skin, a translucent layer around most of the muscles, though sometimes forgotten, must be removed. Otherwise, you are dealing with tallow and other fats… most of which still can’t stay. Peel it up and get under there with your knife.
We promise you’ll be glad you did.
Over our years of cooking and experimentation, we have noticed a few common threads in the patterns of game consumption. Namely, this one: people seem to love making game in to jerky and sausage.
It may be that it's just the easiest thing to do, that most processors add it as a service, or that people have developed a taste for it over the years — in any case, statistics show that most game meat harvested will be turned in to sausage. We can’t help but say it: what a waste!
I mean, come on. Think about it. That meat you are grinding is good. With the fat removed from a deer, you still have a heavy cooler full of flavor-packed meat. Grinding it is an option, sure. But if you had pounds of steak and tenderloins guaranteed to be healthier for you than any other meat and nearly guaranteed to taste better, you'd likely not turn it into sausage. Game meat
Too many a deer is chopped up and pickled in a jar, too many of life’s beautiful animals are ground to a pulp and seasoned in sausage patties. If you have looked at the grain on that meat, you can see there's a problem with that.
If you have tasted it cooked well, you know it’s an abomination.
The meat you harvest from outside is amazing — don’t treat it any different than a good steak or a pork tenderloin. Use your discretion with cleaning and seasoning it, but don’t try to hide the flavor just to hide it.
If you have kept your meat clean, cold, and dry, if there is no more tallow to speak of and a healthy pat of butter for some good added fat, you can’t go wrong.
Finally, get creative!
Traditions are great, but at the end of the day, the quality and flavor of your food is what is going to matter. If your old way of cooking consists of more vinegar-soaked, fine ground gaminess, maybe this is your sign to scrap it. Or at least try what else is available!
Especially recently, we admittedly have seen people on the opposite side of the spectrum. You can hop on Netflix and find variations of game meat that are so hidden in the entourage of their uniqueness that it starts to get a little disrespectful to what you are eating. The food doesn’t have to be “doctored up” for you to like it; it doesn’t have to be unique to make a good taco or a legit steak. We’ll say it again: Just don't treat it special - simply treat it like good meat!
When we cook steaks from a deer, we use butter, salt and pepper, and wine and you can bet it is just as good as anything you can get from Longhorn. Better even.
We use the same method for our meatballs but with mozzarella and marinara sauce added to the mix. Which, if you are thinking about Valentine’s Day by the way, is the perfect ticket. We made some for our girls and they were raving — the cool part is we didn’t even tell them they were eating deer meat. To them, it just tasted like some kind of “non-greasy, flavorful beef.” Which is the perfect example of what it should taste like!!
It doesn’t have to be unique, nor does it have to be traditional. Try new things, learn to work with what you have to the best advantage, and learn from the teaching of others. We’ve made that pretty easy with our recipe blog, which will also have that meatball recipe we mentioned earlier posted soon, so keep an eye out! 😉
Naturally sourced meat is truly the best meat out there — it's WAY better for your body than meat from the grocery store, and on top of that, the flavor can beat it by miles. The way you process and cook this meat, however, makes a difference.
It's much better than store-bought meat, so if anything, treat it that way. Use a new recipe and make something fancy. Or, if you want something simple, get it cleaned up and make it into something like burgers or meatballs. Game meat is versatile — it doesn’t have to be prepared the same way every time and it doesn’t have to be gamey. All you need is a few basic rules to go by, and every time, no matter what you are preparing, you can count on it to make a good meal.
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The weather isn’t the only thing that can change in a matter of minutes in Georgia — each shot is different from the last one and they just keep getting more epic!