How to cook game meat to perfection
In my previous article, I discussed why health-conscious consumers should be swapping red meat for game meat. Here, I discuss how to actually cook game meat for those who are unsure how to. Cooking game meat requires different cooking times and methods compared to beef, pork or lamb. So let’s look at the various ways to prepare and expertly cook a plump kudu or springbok steak.
How to cook game meat?
The first thing to bear in mind is that game meat is considerably leaner than beef or lamb. If you’re monitoring your fat intake, then you’d most likely cook your steak in it’s own fat and juices, or you’d drizzle a drop or two of olive oil into the pan. Game meat doesn’t have quite as much fatty tissue, and the reason for this is because game animals aren’t confined to pens or cages while being fattened with grain and maize, like cattle, sheep and pigs. Game animals roam freely, exercising and eating a natural plant-based diet. The result is healthy, lean meat.
Don’t overcook it
Since game meat is almost fat-free, an important tip to keep in mind is not to overcook it. A beef steak can cook a while longer until it’s well done without drying out, but game meat is different. If you had to cook a venison steak until it’s well cooked you would end up with a tasteless, shrivelled piece of meat. To prevent this, make sure that you cook the game meat medium-rare. The meat should still be slightly pink and juicy.
Use a blowtorch
You don’t have to specially buy yourself a blowtorch just to cook game meat, but they are very useful. High heat from a frying pan or grill damages the protein bonds in the meat, but a blowtorch will allow you to brown the meat gently without destroying its texture and taste. What you could do is cook the steak for a minute or two, then use the torch to char it slightly.
Brine or marinade the meat
Brining may be considered time-consuming and a little old-fashioned, but it really does wonders for game meat and would be worth the effort and time. Brining involves soaking meat in a salt solution to improve its moisture content and flavour. Submerging game meat in brine does not destroy the protein bonds, instead through osmosis; water is transported to the cells where it’s trapped. The result is a plump, juicy steak that won’t dry out during cooking. To create the brine, simply add two tablespoons of salt to four cups of water.
Where to eat game meat in South Africa?
South Africa is well-known for its game and there are plenty of game farms where you can hunt your own food. Popular game animals that are hunted include wildebeest, kudu, zebra, warthog, impala and springbok. If hunting does not align with your values, then dine at a South African restaurant that serves game meat.
Here are some of the best restaurants in Cape Town and Johannesburg where you can order tasty game cuisine.
- Arnold’s on Kloof – Cape Town CBD
- Karibu – the V&A Waterfront
- Savoy Cabbage – Cape Town CBD
- Marco’s African Place – Cape Town CBD
- Black Marlin – Simon’s Town
- City Grill Steakhouse – the V&A Waterfront
- The Hussar Grill – Camps Bay
- Aubergine – Gardens
- Mario’s Restaurant – Green Point
- The Hussar Grill – Mouille Point
- Mama Africa – Cape Town CBD
- Carnivore – Muldersdrift
- Tribes African Grill Steak House – Emperors Palace
- The Butcher Shop and Grill – Sandton
- Moyo – Melrose Arch And Zoo Lake
- Wombles – Parktown North
- The Local Grill – Parktown North
- Chaplin’s Grill – Hurlingham
- The Butcher Block – Rosebank And Woodmead
- The Bull Run – Sandton
- Trumps Grill – Nelson Mandela Square
If you’re curious about cooking with game meat, here’s a recipe using kudu that you could try.
Kudu potjie with chilli chocolate sauce
Ingredients for the marinade
- A bottle of your favourite red wine
- 3 cloves garlic, crushed
- 2 tsp. salt
- A few bay leaves
- A few fresh sprigs of rosemary and thyme
- 2 tsp. cracked black pepper
- 10 juniper berries
- 2 onions, chopped
- 1 red chilli, finely chopped
- Zest of one lemon
Ingredients for the kudu meat
- Kudu fillet
- Streaky bacon
- 2 garlic cloves, crushed
- Dried mixed herbs
Ingredients for the potjie
- 2 large carrots, sliced
- 2 medium onions, chopped
- 1 celery stalk, sliced
- 1 litre beef stock
Ingredients for the sauce
- A slab of dark chocolate, preferably 85% cocoa
- Port (to taste)
- 1 red chilli, finely chopped
- Combine all the marinade ingredients in a deep bowl.
- Rub the meat with the rosemary and thyme sprigs.
- Wrap the streaky bacon around the kudu meat and secure with a toothpick.
- Place the bacon-wrapped kudu meat in the marinade and leave overnight in the fridge. Do not discard the marinade as you’ll be using it for the stew.
- Sear the meat for a few seconds in a little olive oil over high heat.
- In a big pot add the carrots, onions and celery and cook until they turn translucent.
- Add the seared meat, marinade and beef stock to the pot and stew over very low heat for about an hour. Make sure not to overcook the meat or to allow the water to evaporate completely.
Method for the sauce
- Strain the meat juices from the stew into a clean pot.
- Add the chocolate, a few glugs of port and the chilli.
- Let the sauce simmer until thick.
Dish the stew into a cast-iron pot and pour a generous quantity of the sauce over the meat. Serve with bread.
(recipe adapted from www.thehomechannel.co.za)
For more delicious recipes using game meat, look here.