How to Barbecue Game Meatby Annabel Warne May 11 2016
Think game is just for autumn and winter, think again. Plenty of game is available throughout the year, and what could be better than cooking wild meat outdoors on the barbecue. The smoke of a barbecue really enhances the flavour of game meat and there are plenty of great recipes out there so get barbecuing now! Here are our tips for cooking game and some favourite recipes.
Game on the barbecue - top tips
1. Pick the right cuts
Game meat is lean so it’s important to pick the right cuts, prepare it well and don’t let it dry out. You can grill pretty much all game but some types do work better than others. Choose tender cuts that don’t require long cooking times like breasts, loin or legs. Large cuts like venison or wild boar joints don’t work so well on a barbecue. Our co-founder, Robert Gooch loves to barbecue venison and wild boar steaks - and says they’re excellent done rare.
2. Make time to marinade
A marinade’s job is to add flavour to the meat but it does not tenderise the meat, so a couple of hours in a marinade is plenty to add flavour. Oil is important in marinade to form a crusty seal and keep the meat moist; it also prevents it sticking to the grill bars. Wild Meat Company’s co-founder, Paul, recommends marinading pheasant fillets in olive oil for just 5 minutes, or using a dry rub on the oil. Rabbit joints and pigeon breasts are also great marinaded or with the addition or rubs - have a look at the range of rubs from the Food Rub Company that we sell in our Pantry. Acids such as vinegar, citrus and yoghurt can cause it to become mushy so try not to add too much. Salt is essential in marinades as it flows through the meat and releases moisture within the cells.
3. To remove the meat from the fridge or not?
When cooking small cuts that are best served pink, like pigeon or partridge breast, we suggest cooking them straight from the fridge so they get a nice colour on the outside without overcooking the inside. Larger pieces of meat need to be cooked thoroughly so take it out of the fridge about 30 minutes before you start cooking.
4. Be Prepared
Do get everything ready before you start cooking - resting trays, foil, plates and knives and forks Invest in a pair of tongs for turning the meat. Do not use a fork to turn or touch the meat as the prongs pierce it and all the juice will escape and the meat will dry out.
5. Time to cook
Sear the meat first on the hot part of the barbecue to lock in the juices and form a crust. According to Philippa Davies writing in the Field - the secret technique of how to barbecue game is that the cooler parts are useful for cooking thick pieces of meat or if the meat keeps flaming. The hot parts are perfect for searing and cooking thinner cuts quickly making it taste much better. Read more at The Field. Be careful not to over cook your meat so it does not dry out.
6. Give it a rest
Once cooked it is vital to rest the meat, just as you would cooking the meat indoors. It allows the juices inside to redistribute themselves and stops them running out when sliced.
Ideal flavours for barbecuing game meat
Herbs - marjoram/oregano; garlic, parsley, chives, rosemary
Spices - chilli, paprika, mustard
Accompaniments -green sauce or salsa verde, tahini yoghurt, mustard or try Chazwinkle’s beetroot, plum or rhubarb preserves from our pantry.
Our favourite recipes
- Barbecued Venison Steaks
- Grilled Venison with Green Sauce Sandwich
- Jamie Oliver’s Grilled and marinated rabbit
- Watch this video of Sam Clarke of Moro restaurant barbecuing pheasant breasts (via the Guardian web site). First he marinates it in sweet wine and onion before searing it on the barbecue
- Barbecued Haunch of Venison
- Spatchcocked pheasant with lemon and herbs from The Field
- Pigeon Kebabs with Hare and Rosemary from The Field
- Butterflied leg of deer with tahini sauce from The Field