- Buy your meat first, do your planning second
- Cultivate your butcher, market or hunter
- Frozen is fine
- Ask lots of questions
- Mince and stewing steak are great to start with
Game is seasonal. Hold off on your planning until you know what part of which wild animal you’ll be taking home. What you’ll mostly tend to find is joints, mince and stewing steak. You might find frozen finely sliced meat for sautéing in the freezer cabinet, which makes a great evening meal.
Start out from the meat, not the recipe. What sort of game have you got?
– Ulrika Brydling, sommelier and former owner of Marmite in Åre, Sweden
Game in the shops
In an ordinary city supermarket it’s often up to the owner how much – or how little – game turns up at the meat counter. Your local shop will stock game if you order it – slightly depending on the season. Then you can decide for yourself which cut you want.
Game from the market
Indoor markets and farmers’ markets are becoming increasingly common. The stall holders are often experts in what they are selling.
They might not know the whole supply chain to the store. Consumers have to start asking questions, helping out.
– KC Wallberg, Gubbhyllan at Skansen, Stockholm
Buying game online
There’s a wide range of abattoirs and farms delivering vacuum packed and frozen meat online. Get searching.
Game contains much less fat than meat from farmed animals. It keeps unusually well in the freezer for this very reason, often for years. If you have found some frozen game, it’s highly likely to be well preserved.
Game mince is a good place to start
If you’re starting at the very beginning, try replacing the mince in burgers, bolognese sauce or meatballs with game meat. Switching to better meat isn’t any more difficult than that.
Slow-cooked stewing steak
Stewing steak is another quick route to success. Just remember to start early enough. It can take a couple of hours for your stew to attain perfection.
Expensive fillets demand more from you as a chef. The lean meat dries out easily and will taste of liver if you get the cooking wrong. Read the section on Cooking game before taking the plunge. Silverside of moose, for example, counts as a joint, but if the meat has been hung and butchered well, it can work as a fillet. Ask your butcher
Older meat has more flavor
A tough life in the wild leaves its mark. In general, the older the game meat is, the coarser the fibers it will have and the stronger the game flavor.
Amount of meat per person
Because game tastes stronger than beef, for example, you can serve slightly less of it per guest. That means you can treat yourself to game instead of farmed meat more often. Good and climate-smart.
Which game animal has the most flavor?
The larger game animals taste very different. Reindeer has the most gamey flavor, followed by red deer. Moose is one of the more subtle meats.
Which wild fowl has the most flavor?
When it comes to birds, capercaillie, grouse and ptarmigan top the game flavor charts. You’ll find the most subtle flavor in quail, once described by chef Carina Brydling as a “mini-chicken”.
Asking the right questions
You shouldn’t need to go on a hunting course in order to buy a piece of meat. Here are some good questions to ask when you’re shopping (but don’t expect to always get an answer):
- Where does the meat come from?
- When was the hunt?
- How old was the animal and was it a male or female?
- How long has the meat been hung for?
Hung game tastes best
All meat must be hung, the recommendation is for 40 degree/days. The degree/days calculation works like this: If the average temperature is 10°C, the meat needs to hang for 4 days. If the meat is hung in a warmer place, it will mature more quickly, and in a cooler place, more slowly. Well-hung meat doesn’t need to be cooked for as long as meat that has been hung for a shorter period.
Handling game correctly
Almost all game will pass through a game processing plant that guarantees quality and hygiene. There are special rules for wild boar and bear: The meat has to be tested for trichinosis.