Lessons in Cooking Wild Game: Wild Game Sliders
I have been cooking wild game for years. I do enjoy eating all kinds of game meats. I also love the health benefits from wild game. But, even I forget sometimes, that wild game is not compatible with many traditional recipes that call for beef. This year was no different.
Before this year’s hunting season started, I was cooking with wild game from last year’s hunting season like a crazy woman. I wanted to use every last bit of venison we had in the freezer before my “men” brought home some more venison meat this year.
Last year, we were blessed with two very tasty deer. We had a freezer full of meat; in fact, it lasted us until this year’s hunting season. After the hunting season ended last year, I had an arsenal of all new recipes. The previous year’s hunt yielded nothing, so I was very excited to cook with it again. But, even I get sick of my same old recipes for wild game. When that happens, I’ve been known to put it into dishes that call for beef. I’m usually left with uneaten venison that has been picked of out what ever dish I had attempted to “sneak” it in to. Certain people are soo picky….oh, son’s of mine!
Some recipes I do not recommend substituting venison for beef. Some of them are; spaghetti, regular hamburgers, tacos, traditional sloppy joes, and lasagna. Those recipes were created with and for beef and they will always be called out by those of us that have overly sensitive olfactory glands. Annoying I know, I have 3 in my family. No sense in trying to hide it. Try cooking something new.
Have you ever gone to a restaurant that serves wild game? If you do, you’ll never see it on the menu as; venison, spaghetti or venison tacos? Why? Because most chefs know better. Wild game is “wild.” and needs to be treated as such. You will more likely see things like; hunter crusted elk loin or slow roasted rosemary quail legs or blue hills buffalo chili. Most great chefs understand that in order to make wild game tasty, they need to build on the “wild” flavor not try to mask it.
When I do a wild game cooking demo, I am usually asked by at least 2 or more attendees the same question, “My wife/girlfriend, doesn’t like wild game, what can I do to get her to eat it?” My first advise is to think of it as something “new” to cook with. I always tell them to think of the flavors you can taste in the wild game and build on those flavors.
Elk and buffalo both have a hint of sweetness about them and things like onions, tarragon, and horse radish go so well with both of them. While venison may have more of an earthy flavor and I pair it with earthy mushrooms, chianti wines, truffles, wild rice, rosemary, and sage. Wild boar has a hint of thyme and pairs nicely with tomato based dishes. Duck is sweet and l love it with pineapple and soy-sauce. You get the idea.
For all the hunters who had successful hunt this year, I have a new recipe for you. I’m really excited about this one. I wanted a recipe I could make many different ways, serving it with different side dishes to create a whole new meal, but using the same base. Since most hunters have their venison or elk made into ground meat, I figured this recipe will be a new favorite. I even recommend serving it to your skeptical wild game eaters. Plus, if you don’t have any wild game, beef will work perfectly. Beef is the most versatile meat there is.
Wild Game Meat Base for: Sliders (Meatloaf & Meatballs)
1lb. ground Elk, Venison, or Buffalo
1/4 cup crushed garlic croutons
1-2 Tablespoons finely chopped sun-dried tomatoes
1/4 cup Monterey Jack cheese, plus more for rolls
2 Tablespoons parsley flakes
1 Tablespoon dried mushrooms
1/4 cup mayonnaise
1/2 tsp seasoned salt
8 sweet dinner rolls, sliced
In a mixing bowl combined, game meat, croutons, tomatoes, cheese, parsley, mushrooms, mayo, seasoned salt and pepper. With clean hands, thoroughly mix the burger mixture. Pat into 8 small patties.
Heat a fry pan and fry patties in two batches. Flip when the patties are nicely browned, about 2 minutes. Cook the other side. Remove from the heat and set aside.
Wipe out the fry pan with a paper towel. Return to the heat. Place 4 small sliced pieces of cheese on the bottom of the fry pan evenly spaced out. Place half of the bun cut side down on top of the cheese. Allow cheese to brown on the bottom. Carefully flip bun and place on a serving plate. Repeat the process with all 8 bun bottoms.
Serve wild game burgers with onion marmalade on the cheese sweet buns.
1 onion chopped
1 Tablespoon of butter
1 Tablespoon of balsamic vinegar
1 Tablespoon brown sugar
Salt and pepper
Sauté the onion in the butter until the onion is tender. Add the brown sugar and the vinegar. Cook until thick, about 4 minutes. Remove from heat and cool.
For meatballs, prepare the recipe as you would for the sliders, except make it into bite-size meat balls. Brown them in the oven for 20 minutes at 350 degrees. Serve with marmalade for a yummy dipping sauce for super appetizer.
For the meatloaf, prepare as for the sliders, except shape the burger into one loaf. Place marmalade in the bottom of the loaf pan, place the meatloaf on top and bake at 350 for 45-60 minutes until loaf is cooked throughout.