Farmed game birds available in markets today are far less fatty, more tender and meaty than their wild counterparts. The reduced fat content makes the birds less caloric, but not as tender as their regular poultry or meat counterparts.
Slow, moist cooking methods such as stewing, covered roasting and braising in liquids are best for older, leaner and less tender game. Most farmed game is well trimmed of fat, which is often responsible for imparting gamy flavor to the product. Marinating does help reduce gaminess, and large or small older game animals may be marinated up to two days before cooking, if desired.
Use butter, oil, bacon or salt pork to replace some of the trimmed fat from the birds. Liquids, such as broths, water, fruit juices, liquors and wine can also be used to moist-cook lean game such as venison or moose. Farmed meat that is young and more tender does well when broiled, pan-roasted, grilled or cooked with the other dry heat methods you would use for non-game meats. In fact, recipes can be adapted to poultry or meat counterparts with little modification in cooking times and temperatures.
Good Judgment Needed
Here is a standard cooking chart for the various methods for cooking farmed game. Although the cooking times and methods are standard, cooks must use discretion and good judgment when testing doneness of any product. Some products are naturally less or more tender than others, so individual characteristics must be considered.
To test doneness, pierce the meat with a fork or bite into a sample piece, if necessary. If the meat is tender and soft (but not too soft) the meat is done. Some long-cooking recipes call for very tender meat. In that case, the meat should fall away from the bone.
For most game birds or animals with bone, allow three-quarters to one pound per person. Allow one-third to one-half pound per person if portions are meaty. If the game is frozen, thaw in the original wrapper in the refrigerator one to two days, depending on thickness. Then proceed as for fresh meat.
Game birds or animals are especially good with cabbage, root vegetables and strong-flavored greens, as well as stewed, poached or baked fruit and fruit sauces. Good starch accompaniments are brown, wild and processed rice, chestnut puree, grits, couscous, bulgur wheat and pasta.
GAME BIRDS Geese, Wild Turkey Roast: Allow 20 to 25 minutes per pound for roasting.
Small Game Birds Roast: Allow 15 to 35 minutes for roasting.
Roast (stuffed game): Stuff loosely, allowing one cup for each bird; skewer and tie legs and wings; brush with fat or layer with bacon and bake 25 to 35 minutes at 350 degrees.
Braise: 15 to 25 minutes with liquid.
Broil: Cook six to eight inches from source of heat 15 to 20 minutes on each side.
Grill: Cook six inches from medium-hot coals for 10 to 25 minutes, turning and brushing with liquid, fat, butter or oil.
Spit-roast: Spit-roast five to six inches from coals, allowing one hour for small birds, 1 1/2 hours for medium-size birds, basting frequently with liquid, fat, butter or oil.
Pan-fry: For small game or parts, such as breasts only, brown in butter, oil or fat a few minutes on each side, then cook with or without liquid over low heat five to 10 minutes longer.
GAME ANIMALS Venison, Buffalo Roast: Allow 15 to 20 minutes per pound at 350 degrees for rare; 25 minutes per pound for medium-rare; 30 minutes per pound for medium-well, depending on cut of meat.
Stew: Allow 1 1/2 to two hours for one to two pounds cubed pieces of meat in liquid.
Saute: Allow about five to six minutes on each side for medallions.
Rabbit Fried: Brown rabbit pieces, then cook, covered, 1 1/2 hours until crispy, removing cover during last 15 minutes of cooking.
Stew: Allow one to two days for marinating, if desired; allow 1 1/2 to two hours for stewing with liquid over low heat after browning on range or two hours at 350 degrees in oven.
Boar or Pig Roast: Allow 15 to 20 minutes per pound at 350 degrees.
Braised: Brown well, then allow two to three hours to cook in liquid, depending on size and quality.