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Cooking Wild Game

Marinade recipes | Make fish, wild game meat tender and flavorful

Marinade recipes | Make fish, wild game meat tender and flavorful

A common complaint is that wild game meat tastes “gamey” or that fish tastes “fishy.” A good marinade can change  that.

by Leon Pantenburg

Great tasting game meat or fish starts as soon as the animal is killed or the fish is caught.

Good-tasting fish or wild game meat starts with proper preparation and sometimes, a good marinade recipe.

Good-tasting fish or wild game meat starts with proper preparation and sometimes, a good marinade recipe.

The carcass needs to be field dressed ASAP, and the meat cooled. Same thing with fish – the sooner the fish is killed, dressed and put on ice, the better it will taste.

So why use a marinade?

With the addition of an acidic liquid, such as vinegar, fruit juice, wine or soured milk products, the marinade tenderizes and causes the seasonings to penetrate the cut of meat.

This can be important to great taste, depending on the animal that the meat came from, and the circumstances related to the harvest.

A buck that was stressed before being killed during the rut, on a hot summer day, is going to taste stronger than a doe shot dead in late November. Likewise, a fish that was caught, and dragged behind the boat on a stringer for several hours is bound to taste more fishy than one caught, killed and placed on ice.

My standard marinade recipe for fish, fowl or venison is really simple: milk, an egg, your favorite seasonings and some garlic. Combine all these ingredients in a big plastic bag or in a bowl, and place the meat or fish in it. Let it soak for awhile in the refrigerator, then drain and cook. This recipe works particularly well on fish, and all you need to do is roll the fish in flour and fry.

Here are some marinade recipes from “Linda Stephenson’s Wild Game Dutch Oven Cooking” cook book  that will work well on a variety of meats.

Moose Marinade

1 c pineapple juice

1/2 c honey

1/2 tsp allspice

Combine the ingredients in a medium bowl; mix well. Brush on meat to fried or roasted. The longer  the meat is left to marinate, the better it will taste. Marinate in refrigerator for one or two days.

Apple-Sage Marinade

3/4 c apple juice

1/3 c canola oil

1/4 c sage cider vinegar

2 TBS fresh sage, minced

1 tsp salt

In a medium bowl, combine all the ingredients and mix well.

This marinade is excellent for bear, elk, moose and deer venison.

Coffee-Molasses Marinade

1 c strong coffee

1/2 c garlic red wine vinegar

1/4 c unsulfured molasses

1/4 c Dijon mustard

1 Tbs Worcestershire sauce

Combine all ingredients in a heavy, nonreactive sauce pan, bring to a boil over medium heat. Reduce heat to low and simmer for five minutes. Cool. This is an excellent marinade for bear.

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Cooking Wild Game

Leon Pantenburg is a wilderness enthusiast, and doesn't claim to be a survival expert or expertise as a survivalist. As a newspaperman and journalist for three decades, covering search and rescue, sheriff's departments, floods, forest fires and other natural disasters and outdoor emergencies, Leon learned many people died unnecessarily or escaped miraculously from outdoor emergency situations when simple, common sense might have changed the outcome. Leon now teaches common sense techniques to the average person in order to avert potential disasters. His emphasis is on tried and tested, simple techniques of wilderness survival. Every technique, piece of equipment or skill recommended on this website has been thoroughly tested and researched. After graduating from Iowa State University, Leon completed a six-month, 2,552-mile solo Mississippi River canoe trip from the headwaters at Lake Itasca, Minn., to the Gulf of Mexico. His wilderness backpacking experience includes extended solos through Yellowstone’s backcountry; hiking the John Muir Trail in California, and numerous shorter trips along the Pacific Crest Trail. Other mountain backpacking trips include hikes through the Uintas in Utah; the Beartooths in Montana; the Sawtooths in Idaho; the Pryors, the Wind River Range, Tetons and Bighorns in Wyoming; Rocky Mountain National Park in Colorado, the Catskills in New York and Death Valley National Monument in southern California. Some of Leon's canoe trips include sojourns through the Okefenokee Swamp and National Wildlife Refuge in Georgia, the Big Black River swamp in Mississippi and the Boundary Waters canoe area in northern Minnesota and numerous small river trips in the Midwest and Pacific Northwest. Leon is also an avid fisherman and an elk, deer, upland game and waterfowl hunter. Since 1991, Leon has been an assistant scoutmaster with Boy Scout Troop 18 in Bend, and is a scoutmaster wilderness skills trainer for the Boy Scouts’ Fremont District. Leon earned a second degree black belt in Taekwondo, and competed in his last tournament (sparring and form) at age 49. He is an enthusiastic Bluegrass mandolin picker and fiddler and two-time finalist in the International Dutch Oven Society’s World Championships.

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