How to Barbecue Game Meatby Annabel Warne May 11 2016
Think game is just for autumn and winter? Think again! There’s plenty of delicious fresh game available throughout the year – and we know no better way to spend a summer evening than cooking wild meat outdoors on the barbecue.
We recommend venison, wild boar, wood pigeon and squirrel – all of which are readily available throughout summer and fantastic on the barbecue. Game that freezes well, such as rabbit and pheasant, are also great choices. The smoke of the barbecue adds extra flavour to wild meat, making it incredibly moreish – so long as you follow a few simple steps.
Game on the barbecue - top tips
1. Pick the right cuts
Game meat is leaner than farmed meat so it’s important to pick the right cuts. Opt for tender cuts that don’t require long cooking times, such as breasts, loins or legs. Our co-founder, Robert Gooch loves to barbecue venison and wild boar steaks – and says they’re excellent when cooked rare. Our game sausages and burgers are also perfect for barbecuing but large cuts like venison or wild boar joints are better slow-roasted. Once you’ve chosen your cut, follow specific guidelines for that cut or use one of the mouthwatering recipes we’ve listed below.
2. Make time to marinade
A marinade’s job is to add flavour to meat. Salt is essential as well as oil, which will help to form a crusty seal and keep meat moist, while preventing it from sticking to your barbecue grill. Marinades won’t tenderise meat, however, and there is no benefit to marinating small cuts of meat for longer than a couple of hours. Wild Meat Company’s co-founder, Paul, recommends marinating pheasant fillets in olive oil for just 5 minutes, or using a dry rub on the oil. Acids such as vinegar, citrus and yoghurt, on the other hand, can make meat mushy so a light touch is recommended when using these ingredients.
3. Should you remove meat from the fridge before barbecuing?
When cooking small cuts that are best served pink, such as pigeon or partridge breast, we suggest cooking straight from the fridge to get a nice colour on the outside without overcooking the inside. Larger pieces of meat, however, should always be cooked thoroughly so take these out of the fridge about 30 minutes before cooking.
4. Be Prepared
Before your game hits the barbecue, make sure you’ve got everything you need to hand so you don’t inadvertently overcook your meat or let it become dry while fetching kitchen items. Tongs are best for turning meat as a fork may pierce it and allow juices to escape – so have these ready alongside a resting tray, foil, plates and cutlery. Make sure any sides, such as salad, rice or bread, are fully prepped too so you can give the barbecue your full attention.
5. Get cooking
Sear meat first on the hot part of the barbecue to lock in juices and form a crust. In an article for The Field, Philippa Davies revealed her techniques for achieving barbecue game perfection. Philippa recommends using the cooler parts of the barbecue for cooking thick pieces of meat or if the meat keeps flaming. The hot parts, on the other hand, are ideal for searing and cooking thinner cuts quickly for maximum flavour. Always be careful not to overcook your meat, though, as it can easily become dry.
Once cooked, it is vital to rest game meat, just as you would if you were roasting or pan-frying. Resting allows the precious juices inside to redistribute themselves so they aren’t lost 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 preserves such as Wild at Heart crab apple sauce, available from our pantry
Our favourite recipes
- Barbecued venison steaks
- Venison kebabs with yoghurt & cucumber marinade
- Spatchcock BBQ squirrel
- Cheese filled rabbit and bacon burgers
- Jamie Oliver’s grilled and marinated rabbit
- Sam Clarke’s barbecue pheasant breasts (watch Sam marinates his pheasant in sweet wine and onion before searing on the barbecue via the Guardian web site)
- José Souto’s barbecued haunch of venison
- The Field’s spatchcocked pheasant with lemon and herbs
- The Field’s pigeon kebabs with hare and rosemary
- The Field’s butterflied leg of deer with tahini sauce