Chefs offer advice on preparing game
Salt and pepper are the foundations of a great-tasting game dinner.
“Rosemary and garlic and onions, salt and pepper do wonders,” Steamboat Meat and Seafood Company owner Bill Hamil said.
Shoulder cuts of elk, deer and antelope are ideal for crock pot cooking and stewing, he said, and need to be cooked longer. The leg, hind quarters and loin should be cooked similarly to beef.
When grilling lean meats, use salt, pepper and garlic. Rub the meat with olive oil, Hamil said, and make sure the grill is well-oiled before starting.
“I’d say all the prime cuts you’d want to cook medium rare,” he said.
But getting a great meal starts long before the steaks hit the grill.
Hamil recommends gutting and skinning animals immediately after shooting them, keeping them cool.
“Make sure they keep the chest cavity and belly cavity split and opened, so that it chills down quickly,” he said. “To quarter their animal would be ideal.”
Game bags are essential for keeping the animal clean, he added.
“Chef Pat” Roberts mostly cooks beef for his customers at Yampa Valley Golf Course’s Tin Cup Grill, but he is a fan of game meats.
“Don’t overcook. If you do, it’ll be dry and tough and nasty.”
He likes to marinade his game meats with a recipe, which is “not one I divulge to everyone.” But he did say it has some citrus flare to it.
Some people like the meat marinated in soda pop or garlic, while soaking in milk or salt water can eliminate what Roberts calls the “gamey flavor.”
“You can customize it to what your tastes are,” Roberts said. “You can play with it and have fun.”
Liver and onions are also popular to serve with elk and venison, and many people enjoy eating elk heart. Last fall, he made buffalo tenderloins that he said “were just killer.”
Roberts thinks many people like game meats because it’s a meal they killed themselves, and now can enjoy.
Walt Vanatta is one of those hunters. He uses a standard chili recipe — with some personal touches — and substitutes elk for beef hamburger. He used to make it often for Craig Chamber of Commerce events.
“It seemed to all disappear all the time,” he said.
As for proper game preparation, Chef Pat has a simple suggestion.
“You can do anything with wild game that you can do with beef,” he said, “you just have to adjust the cooking time so you don’t overcook it.” n
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Nearly all of Craig Parks and Recreation Director Ryan Dennison’s tenure with the department has been under the shadow of the pandemic.