NEWS for North Dakotans
Agriculture Communication, North Dakota State University
7 Morrill Hall, Fargo, ND 58105-5665
November 2, 2000
By Julie Garden-Robinson, Food and Nutrition Specialist
NDSU Extension Service
With lots of hunters and fishermen in my family, I grew up with a menu a little on the wild side. We enjoyed venison, pheasant, duck, goose and walleye depending on the season. I've sampled elk, bear and turtle. But I wouldn't go near snake meat if I were the last contestant on "Survivor." I don't care if it does taste like chicken.
Game meats have become popular on upscale restaurant menus, and this has prompted some changes in the animal production industry. Nontraditional herds, including ostriches and emu, are being raised. And North Dakota, South Dakota and other Great Plains states have become known for their bison products.
Game meats are excellent sources of protein and are similar in composition to domestic animal meat. Often game meats are lower in fat, particularly saturated fat, compared to their domestic counterparts. The calorie and fat content of game meats vary with the age and species. Game meat like venison often has less fat distributed in the muscle, so it is usually cooked similarly to lean beef. The flavor of the meat depends on the animals' feeding practices, and it's often desirable to trim the fat as closely as possible because the characteristic flavor resides in the fat.
Here's a tasty and healthful recipe that can be prepared with venison or beef. Simmering in tomato sauce will tenderize the meat and add flavor.
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 onion, sliced
2 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 1/2 lb. venison, cubed
1 15-oz. can tomato sauce
1 cup water
6 medium carrots, cut in chunks
2 green bell peppers, coarsely chopped
3 medium potatoes, quartered
6 medium onions, quartered
1 bay leaf (if desired)
Salt and pepper to taste
Sauté garlic and onion in oil; add the meat and brown. Cover with tomato sauce and water; simmer 1 hour. Add carrots, peppers, potatoes and additional onions. Add additional water if desired, and cook about 30 minutes until vegetables are tender. Makes six servings.
A serving (one-sixth of the recipe) of this one-dish meal contains about 490 calories and 13 grams of fat. A serving also provides nearly one-third of the daily requirement for iron and more than a full day's recommendation for vitamins A (as beta carotene from the carrots) and C (from the peppers and potatoes). Add some whole grain bread, fresh or canned fruit for dessert and low-fat milk, and you'll be eating food from every group of the Food Guide Pyramid.
Food safety can be a concern during the hunting season. But the thrill of the hunt can continue safely at the dinner table if the game is handled properly along the way. These are a few tips to help you savor the hunt from field to table.
Be prepared for the hunt by bringing equipment like knives, cord or rope, plastic bags, clean cloths and paper towels. Warm temperature is meat's worst enemy, so it's important to field dress and cool the carcass promptly. If the weather is warmer than 50 degrees, most sources recommend refrigerating the carcass within 12 hours. In warm weather, the carcass may be sprinkled with pepper and covered with cheesecloth to repel flies. Never use grass or snow to clean a carcass. Use clean water and wipe the carcass dry with clean cloths or paper toweling.
If the meat is processed at home instead of a commercial plant, avoid cross contamination by using clean equipment and other good sanitation practices. Wash your hands, cutting boards, knives and other equipment carefully. Fresh game meat should be refrigerated and used within two or three days. When freezing meat, use moisture/vapor-proof wrap, pressing air out of the packages prior to sealing. Label the packages with contents and date.
Thaw frozen game in the refrigerator (or microwave oven followed by immediate cooking). Marinades containing vinegar, wine or tomato juice can impart flavor and tenderize the meat, but always marinate meat in the refrigerator. For tender cuts like sirloin and ribs, dry heat cookery methods like roasting and broiling can be used. Less tender cuts are most suited for moist heat methods like stewing and braising. Cook game meat to at least 160 degrees F, using a food thermometer to gauge doneness.
If you plan to can the meat, a pressure canner and current recommendations must be used to help ensure safety. When making jerky or sausage products, use up-to-date food preservation procedures available on the NDSU Extension Service publications Web page http://www.ext.nodak.edu/extpubs/foods.htm.
Source: Julie Garden-Robinson, (701) 231-7187
Editor: Tom Jirik, (701) 231-9629