Hints on cooking game

Don’t overlook basic spices when it comes to cooking game — they’re the foundations of a great-tasting meal.

“Rosemary, garlic and onions, and salt and pepper do wonders,” Steamboat Meat and Seafood Co. owner Bill Hamil says.

Shoulder cuts of elk, deer and antelope are ideal for crock pot cooking and stewing, he adds, and need to be cooked longer. The leg, hind quarters and loin should be cooked similarly to beef. When grilling lean meats, use salt, pepper and garlic. Rub the meat with olive oil, Hamil said, and make sure the grill is well-oiled before starting. And don’t overcook.

“Cook all the prime cuts medium rare,” he says.

Local chef Pat Roberts agrees, adding that a good marinade also helps tenderize and flavor game. He marinades his game meats with a secret recipe that he says has “a citrus flare to it.”

You also can marinade meat in soda pop or garlic. Even a marinade in milk or salt water can eliminate “gamey flavor.” “Customize it to your tastes,” Roberts says. “Play with it and have fun.”

When it comes to burger, many hunters get a small percentage of fat ground into it during processing, and it’s great straight from the grill to the bun, or in everything from spaghetti sauce to chili. Local Walt Vanatta swears by a standard elk chili recipe he often makes for Craig Chamber of Commerce events. It employs the same spices as standard beef chili, only with elk burger instead.

And therein lies the beauty of cooking big game. “You can do anything with wild game that you can do with beef,” Roberts says. “Just adjust the cooking time so you don’t overcook it.”

Elk Stroganoff

2 lbs. elk steak, cubed

vegetable cooking spray

1/4 cup water

1 large yellow onion, chopped

3-4 cloves garlic, pressed

1 lb. Fresh mushrooms, cleaned and stemmed

2 10 oz. cans cream of mushroom soup (or white sauce)

3 Tbsp. Worcestershire sauce

salt and pepper to taste

2 cups sour cream or plain yogurt

1 lb. prepared pasta or rice

Spray a large skillet with vegetable spray. Add 1/4 cup water. Over medium heat, sauté onion until translucent. Add meat and garlic. Cook until meat is browned, about five minutes. Add mushroom caps, cream of mushroom soup and Worcestershire sauce. Add salt and pepper to taste. Cover, reduce heat to medium low and simmer for 15 minutes. Meanwhile prepare pasta and drain. Just before serving, add sour cream to stroganoff mixture. Stir thoroughly and bring to a boil. Serve immediately by spooning over pasta or rice.

Brown’s Park Jerky

2 lbs. lean meat cut in 1/3” strips

1/2 tsp. garlic powder

1 1/2 tsp. onion powder

1 1/2 tsp. season salt

1 1/2 tsp. liquid smoke

1 tsp. vinegar

1/4 cup soy sauce

1/2 cup Worcestershire sauce

1 tsp. fresh ground black pepper

1 1/2 tsp. crushed red pepper

6 Tbsp. Molasses (optional, for sweetness)

Marinate above ingredients for two days in refrigerator. Arrange meat on rack in the oven in single layers. It will drip, so put aluminum foil on rack directly below the meat. Bake on warm (150 degrees) for about 12 hours or until chewy. Store in refrigerator in an airtight container.