There has been a great rise in the popularity of game meat over the past few years and for a good reason; Game meat has a high level of nutritious value and, due to their wild nature, this often means that the meat is of better quality, higher in protein and lower in fat. That’s not to mention that the meat can taste sensational when correctly prepared! For some, the thought of cooking game meat might seem a little scary, especially if you’re not sure where to start. Our beginner’s guide is here to help you to get to grips with the different types of meat, and to share a few of our favourite recipes too!
What is Game Meat?
Game meat is typically an animal that is hunted for sporting activities or for food. These tend to be animals that are wild rather and can be small game or large game. Although game meat is commonly thought to be only from certain types of bird, larger animals such as deer are also classified as game. A few of the most common forms of game found in the UK include pheasant, partridge, grouse, deer, duck, goose, rabbit and woodpigeon.
Why Eat Game Meat?
Aside from the previously mentioned reasons of high protein, low fat and high nutrients, many consumers prize game for its tractability and trustworthiness. The majority of game meats will be able to be traced directly back to a farm or estate, and is often local, adding to the sustainability factor that is so important today. Supporting local businesses and knowing where your food has come from has been a rising trend for a number of years and eating more game meat is a fantastic way to embrace this. Another, very simple benefit is that game can add great variety to your diet and help you to discover new tastes and recipes. It’s all too easy to get stuck in a habit of cooking the same seven meals every week, so why not switch it up every once in a while?
Where to Source Game Meat:
In the UK, the shooting season typically runs from mid-August to late-February and during this time experienced shooters head out for the season to fill their bag in their finest shooting clothing. If you’re interested in getting involved in the next shooting season, why not test your skills out with a few clay pigeon shooting lessons this spring/summer?
On a shoot, you’ll be part of a team and will usually share the bag at the end of the day, meaning you’ll be able to take your share of the hunt home with you to cook (or freeze for later). Then you can see exactly where your food has come from and pick up some fantastic tips from your fellow shooters on what to do with your meat.
If you’re not ready to try shooting yourself but are still intrigued to experience the wonderful tastes that game meat can offer, head to your local butcher to request the meat you wish to cook. They will be able to offer you plenty advice on what and how to cook your chosen game for the best results.
Cooking with Game Meat:
The number one thing to remember when cooking with game is that the meat is incredibly lean, which makes it easy to overcook. This means that it suits recipes that maximise the tenderness of the meat, or bodes well when cooked alongside another, fattier meat (or simply wrapped in bacon).
You should also bear in mind that the meat is often of a much richer flavour than other meats you may have eaten in the past such as chicken, therefore, it does not need to be paired with strong flavours. Game meat can be used in all of your classic recipes: for a Sunday lunch, a delicious chilli, a meaty pie and even a scotch egg! Playing around with flavour combinations and different recipes will help you to learn what works and what doesn’t, and this will help to build your confidence.
Our favourite recipes:
What’s the best game recipe you’ve tried? We’d love to hear from you (and to see any photos of your fine cooking!)