Monday, March 7, 2011

Cooking Tip, Get the Stink Out.

As much as I like cooking and eating game, I think I enjoy cooking it, and feeding it to others even more. Few things are as enjoyable as sharing a game dinner with good friends. Properly handled, and cooked game, paired with an appropriate wine and the right company is unforgettable, whether it be served on a dinning room table or a picnic table.

Some game can be more difficult to prepare, Woodcock being an example, while others like Venison, are relatively easy to handle. In both cases, over cooking being the main factor of a failed meal. Every once in a while, some of the more common game meats can be challenging. I've found that occasionally white breasted game birds, like Pheasant and Grouse, have a pungent odor, and a flavor I feel is best defined as funky. Though I detest the term "gamey" in the description of food, finding it unoriginal, perhaps this odor, and flavor, when stumbled upon, is the "gamey" flavor I've heard of. This odor, and flavor are not something I'd prefer to plate if I'm feeding to the uninitiated. But I've found a pretty simple way to combat it.

Many years ago my father, before he became a bowhunting fanatic, was quite the wingshooter. Any game bird he shot was treated to a saltwater brine. According to him, this would draw out any blood in the meat. This was how I treated game in the beginning, but soon noticed that the brine made the meat taste salty, and that the water really never had any bloody remnants in it. As a result I took to simply cleaning, and drying the meat well. Lately, however, I've take to using a simple treatment I learned while studying Japanese cooking. A treatment that works well with the occasional "difficult" bird.

The treatment is nothing more than a simple marinade of Sake. About an hour before cooking, I soak the meat in a bit of sake, with about three or four 1/4" thick slices of Ginger. The sake can be either the drinking variety found at most liquor outlets, or the cooking variety, most likely found in an Asian grocery store. Ginger is usually available in the produce department of the grocery store. Ground Ginger may be available in the ethnic food aisle of the grocery store, but I don't recommend using it, as it will impart it's flavor into the meat, unlike a few slices of the actual root.

So, next time you find yourself faced with cooking some poultry with a challenging odor, give this simple solution a try.

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