Six Types of Game Meat

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Venison, or deer meat, is a popular game protein.
Venison, or deer meat, is a popular game protein. (Image: Paul E Tessier/Photodisc/Getty Images)

Low in fat and high in flavor, game meats are an excellent alternative protein to break up the dinnertime doldrums. Whether in a steak or stew, most game meats are nutritionally akin to a boneless skinless chicken breast and fit a variety of flavor profiles. Mild and delicate or bold and savory, there is a game meat for every palate.

Venison

By far the most common form of game meat, venison is the term for meat that is harvested from a deer, whether hunted or farm-raised. Venison can be consumed as steaks, sausages, tenderloins and ground meats. Just as no two kinds of deer are alike, so it is that no two deer breeds will produce the same meat. Try Axis Deer for a meat that is akin to beef, or Sika Deer meat for a bold, game-y dish. When serving venison, never over-cook the meat, and consider pairing venison with a red wine, Schwarzbier, or apple cider.

Game Birds

Sally Noll of the University of Minnesota defines game birds as those birds for whom a licensed hunting season has been established. This can include pheasants, grouse, doves, quail, turkey, partridge and certain kinds of ducks. Game birds can present a cooking conundrum, as they cannot be served rare yet dry out rapidly. Roasting, grilling and poaching are common methods of cooking game birds. Typically mild in flavor, consider pairing game birds with hearty red wines or a white zinfandel.

Large Game

Large game species can differ from state-to-state but elk, bison, buffalo, javelina, moose and bears can typically be found in most charters for big game hunting. Availability depends largely on the location of the hunter; check with your local Department of Fish and Game to find out what large game are indigenous to your area. Though each animal has a distinct flavor profile, large game is typically assertive and bold in flavor. A burgundy or other hearty red wine is a good choice to accompany large game dishes.

Small Game

Rabbits and hare are the most popular types of small game, though squirrel and porcupine are also considered small game. In many states a small game hunting license will also allow the bearer to hunt game birds as well. Rabbits and hares are particularly suited to Italian herbs and seasonings. While they can be prepared in a variety of ways, both are best served in a stew or braise. Small game pair well with a cabernet sauvginon, or with a sweet white wine like riesling.

Exotic Game

Any region is bound to offer game that is highly specialized to that environment. The southern United States offers alligator hunting; travel to Africa and you will encounter zebra, ostrich and antelope, among others Kangaroo is popular in Australia, while New Zealand is home to rare trophies such as the wild boars and Himalayan Thar. Many travel agencies have information on safaris tailored to those who wish to hunt exotic game animals. It is best to go through a reputable travel agency in order to avoid unwittingly poaching animals or breaking the laws of your host country.

Game Fishing

Fish whose capture requires extreme physical skill and offshore boating are classified as game fish. These fish include marlins, tunas, sharks and swordfish, to name a few. White wine is best with game fish, particularly a chardonnay.

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