Great Ways to Prepare Ground Wild Game
Simple and delicious recipes for cooking ground big-game, waterfowl, and upland bird meat
Everybody has a favorite cut of wild game, be it back straps, tenderloins, or a nice shoulder roast. The fact is you can take just about any cut of wild game and turn it into something delicious—all it takes is a little knowledge about how to care and prepare the meat.
But if you like to keep things simple and not mess with cooking times, internal temperatures, marinades, and all the prep and cleanup work that comes with cooking a first-rate cut of protein, then you’re probably a fan of ground meat. My wife is one of those people. If I were to leave it up to her, there would be no tenderloins or shoulder roasts. She’d want all our wild game ground up and contained in neat, little one-pound freezer packs.
She likes ground meat because there are so many ways to prepare it—both as a main course, and as part of a side dish. There are dozens if not hundreds of different ways to use ground wild game. You can use it the same way you’d use ground beef or pork, and it beats paying outrageous prices for ground meat loaded with hormones and who knows what else.
Thinking about this article, I revisited a few of my favorite recipes for ground wild game and shared a few below. Just remember these recipes are interchangeable—you can substitute venison, elk, boar, or any other ground meat you have available and still crank out a delicious meal. I’ve used everything from ground wild boar and duck, to moose and antelope, and was never disappointed.
Let’s start with the basic hamburger because a good wild-game burger is hard to find. The meat doesn’t always bind together well and if you overcook the patties, they go from delicious burgers to flavorless hockey pucks in a heartbeat. If you’ve never done it, try making burgers in a cast iron pan to get an even sear on both sides of the patty. My favorite is a good mushroom and Swiss burger cooked an iron skillet, and by backup is a delicious patty melt.
Every hunter I know claims to have the world’s best wild-game chili recipe. I know they’re all liars because I created the world’s greatest chili recipe. How do I know mine is the best? Because I’ve made it with every ground-meat variety you can think of. I’ve used buffalo, moose, antelope, goose, duck, deer, and wild boar and it turns out fantastic every time.
Ground meat is the key ingredient in every kind of sausage, from a dry cured buffalo salami to a fresh breakfast sausage. A lot of people shy away from making sausage because they think it’s too complicated, but what they might not know is most sporting-goods stores sell ready-to-use kits that help make the process a lot easier. There are kits to make everything from summer sausage and trail bologna, to hot links and breakfast sausage. The kits make great gifts, and it’s definitely a great way to create your own uniquely flavored wild game snack.
Meatballs are another great way to use ground wild game. In fact, there are so many great meatball recipes, I could probably do a top ten list of just my favorites. Whether you’re adding them to spaghetti or making them Swedish style, all meatballs start with ground meat. One of my favorite meatballs is a Vietnamese spiced meatball that I use in a Banh Mi sandwich.
I love finger food so when I saw a recipe for grape leaf wrapped beef, I had to convert it into a wild game version. I used buffalo, but you can also use duck or venison to make Vietnamese style meat rolls.
I like to substitute venison anywhere that calls for lamb or goat. Venison works really well in a lot of Mediterranean and Middle Eastern dishes. This venison Kibbeh is a prime example. Mixed with bulgur wheat it is one of my favorite meals.
Add an Asian Twist
One of my all-time favorite things make and eat are egg rolls. Whenever I get a chance to make a wild game egg roll I jump at the opportunity. For an upland flair, my egg roll recipe also works really well with ground up pheasant meat.
When I lived in Japan, I fell in love with gyoza. It’s a small, steamed dumpling that bursts with flavor. When I finally got around to making my own, they were, of course, going to be made with wild game. My venison and kimchi dumplings are out of this world.
Ground wild-game meat isn’t typically someone’s first choice for a stir-fry dish, but I’ve found it works great. I make a quick stir fry with ground boar and have used the same recipe with ground venison as well.
Wild Boar, Lobster Mushroom, and Bok Choy Stir Fry
- 1 pound of ground wild boar
- 2 tablespoons of soy sauce, divided equally
- 1 tablespoon maple sugar (regular sugar is fine if you don’t have maple)
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon sesame oil
- 2 teaspoon minced ginger
- 1 tablespoon corn starch
- 4 cups chopped baby bok choy
- 1 small onion, roughly chopped
- 2 cups sliced lobster mushrooms (or any other mushroom you have)
- 2 cloves of garlic minced
- 4 tablespoons canola oil
- ¼ cup white wine
- In a mixing bowl, combine the meat, one tablespoon of soy sauce, the maple sugar, ginger, sesame oil, salt and cornstarch and place it in the refrigerator for 30 minutes before cooking.
- Heat a wok or large fry pan over high heat, and then add two tablespoons of oil and heat it until it just begins to smoke.
- Add the meat and stir. When the meat is fully cooked, move it into a bowl and set it aside for later.
- Add the other two tablespoons of oil to the hot wok or pan and stir in garlic for about 30 seconds. Then add the bok choy, onion, and mushrooms and cook on high for three to four minutes.
- Pour in the wine and continue cooking for another three to four minutes.
- Add the other tablespoon of soy sauce and stir.
- Return the meat to the mixture and stir to combine.
- Serve with a little Sriracha sauce and steamed rice, or a venison fried rice—it’s a great way to make a little meat go a long way. One pound of ground venison makes enough to fried rice to feed eight hungry folks.
Venison Fried Rice
- 1 teaspoon honey
- 1 teaspoon sesame oil
- 1 tablespoon Shaoxing wine
- 1 tablespoon dark soy
- 1 tablespoon soy sauce
- 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
- 1 pound ground venison
- 2 tablespoons dark soy
- 1 teaspoon fresh minced ginger
- 2 cloves of garlic, minced
- 1 large carrot, shredded
- 1 medium onion diced
- 3 eggs beaten
- 1 cup bean sprouts
- 5 cups cooked rice
- 2 tablespoons canola oil
- Mix the meat, dark soy, ginger, and garlic and let sit in the refrigerator for 30 minutes to an hour.
- Mix the liquids and the pepper together and set aside.
- Heat the canola oil over medium-high heat in a large skillet or wok and sweat the onions for two to three minutes.
- Add the meat mixture and cook for five to six minutes until there’s no pink.
- Add the carrots and the rice, and stir to break up any clumps of meat or rice.
- Pour in the seasoning liquids and stir to combine.
- Add the beaten eggs and stir until cooked.
- When ready to serve, add the sprouts and stir to combine, then garnish with green onions.