Tips From A Huntsman: How to Make Deer Meat Less Gamey

Deer Ragout Gamey tasting deer meat does not make a good meal!  If you’re an avid deer hunter, or simply an avid lover of deer meat, you’ve probably had at least one piece of deer that left you with a...

Deer Ragout
Deer Ragout

Gamey tasting deer meat does not make a good meal!  If you’re an avid deer hunter, or simply an avid lover of deer meat, you’ve probably had at least one piece of deer that left you with a bad taste in your mouth.  The probable cause was improper preparation from the onset of the kill.  Blood, bone, tissue, and fat left on the meat, as well as delayed processing will result in bad flavors.  But the question remains how to make deer meat less gamey?

The best approach is to “field dress” your game as soon as possible after the kill.  This means removing the entrails from the carcass right there in the field immediately after death has occurred.  This stops cellular waste buildup in the muscle which causes unpleasant taste.    Pack the empty cavity with bags of ice (if the weather is warm) before loading to take home or to your butcher.  Once at your destination, the deer should be hung up immediately and left to hang for 24-48 hours to drain the blood, then the consumable portions should be butchered and frozen promptly.  A window of 36 – 72 hours from the kill to the freezer is best for a better tasting, quality meat.

If your deer steak was given to you and you have no knowledge of its preparation methods, here is a simple recipe that can help take the risk of that gamey flavor away:

  1. Thaw steaks and place in a pot of cold water lightly seasoned with kosher salt.  (The salt helps remove extra blood from the meat)  Cover and place pot in fridge and let soak overnight.
  2. Remove steaks from water, rinse and pat dry with paper towels.  If pieces are thick you can sprinkle a little garlic salt on them and pound lightly with a meat tenderizer until meat feels less stiff and heavy.
  3. Place steaks in a baking dish and smother with chopped garlic and/or onion, ground black pepper, rosemary, a dash of Worcestershire sauce, and a spicy red wine such as a Syrah.   This is a particularly good type of wine to use as its aromas and flavors of wild black fruits (such as black currants), and black pepper spice pair well with meats such as beef, wild game, and stew.  Cover, place in fridge, and let marinade for 8+ hours.  You can also place all in a large freezer bag, shake to mix and leave in to marinade.
  4. Cover bottom of frying pan with olive oil.  Remove steaks from marinade and shake off excess onions/garlic.  Leave pepper and rosemary on meat.  Dip steaks in a beaten egg and dredge through flour.  Place in skillet and pan fry on med-high, turning steaks over until meat is done or no blood comes through when pierced with fork.  Add more oil if needed to keep coating from sticking.  You may also cook them on grill, if preferred.  Brush or spray grates first with oil or non-stick spray and pre-heat before placing steaks on grill.

Some folks like to include the onions, garlic, and wine marinade in their final preparation.  Since excess blood continues to seep from the meat, it could contaminate the ingredients used in the marinade.   For health and safety matters, it is recommended to discard marinades used for wild game.  For more recipes and ideas on how to make deer meat less gamey, visit us!