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Game refers to animals that are normally raised in the wild.   Meat from game tends to be leaner and more flavorful than that from their domesticated counterparts, but it's also much more expensive.  It's also tricky to cook well.  Meat from animals that can harbor the parasite that causes trichinosis, like bears and boars, must be cooked thoroughly.  Otherwise, tender cuts of game should be cooked very quickly with high heat and served rare, or else the meat will dry out and become tough.  Tough cuts should be braised or used as stew meat, and cooked slowly.  Most of the game that's available commercially has been ranch-raised, and have a milder flavor than wild game.  If you're not partial to the gamey taste and aroma of wild game (which resembles that of liver), you can tone it down a bit by first marinating the meat for a few hours or by adding vinegar to the sauce.


alligator   Notes:   Alligator meat is lean and mild and people say it tastes like a combination of pork, chicken, and rabbit.  The best meat comes from the tail.   Substitutes:  turtle meat OR chicken OR fish

antelope  Notes:   Antelope are related to goats, but the meat resembles strongly-flavored venison.  Substitutes:  venison

bear   Notes:    Compared with beef, bear is high in protein and low in fat and calories.  Make sure you cook it thoroughly--it's possible to contract trichinosis from undercooked bear meat.   Substitutes:  elk OR moose OR beef

bighorn sheep  Substitutes:  antelope meat OR venison OR lamb

boar   Notes:  Boar meat is similar to pork, only leaner, redder, and stronger-tasting.  Make sure you cook it thoroughly--it's possible to contract trichinosis from undercooked boar meat. Substitutes:  pork

buffalo = bison  Notes:   Buffalo meat tastes like beef, but it's a lot leaner.  To keep tender cuts from drying out, cook them to no more than medium rare.  Tougher cuts should be cooked very slowly over low heat.  Substitutes:  beef

caribou  See venison. 

cooter  See turtle.

crocodile  alligator OR chicken

deer meat  See venison. 

dove   See pigeon. 

elk  See venison.

grouse   Notes:   This is possibly the most choice of all game birds, with flavorful, dark meat.  Varieties include the ptarmigan, capercaillie, and blackcock.  Allow one grouse per person.   Substitutes:  pheasant OR pigeon OR quail OR Cornish game hen  

kangaroo   Notes:   Kangaroo is becoming increasingly popular in Australia. It has a very strong, gamy flavor that's a bit like venison.  It's very lean, so avoid overcooking it.   Substitutes:   venison 

moose  See venison. 

partridge  Notes:   These small, plump birds are related to pheasants, and very tasty.  Varieties include the chukar, red-legged partridge = French partridge, and grey partridge = English partridge.   Substitutes:  grouse (very similar) OR pheasant (These are larger than partridges.) OR dove OR quail (These are smaller than partridges, so use half again as many.) OR Cornish game hen 


pigeon  Includes:   Pigeon meat is dark and very tender.  Look for it in Asian or gourmet markets.  Varieties include the squab, which is a young pigeon that's never flown, the wood pigeon, rock dove, and ring dove.    Substitutes:  quail OR Cornish game hens (larger) OR grouse 


quail    Notes:   Quails have dark meat that's quite tasty.  They're very lean, so bard them before roasting or marinate them before grilling.  Allow two quail per person.  Substitutes:  partridge OR pigeon OR Cornish game hen OR grouse

rattlesnake  Notes:  A novelty item in the Southwest, rattlesnake meat resemble chicken, only it's chewier and has lots of small bones.  Don't overcook it.  Substitutes:  chicken

ring dove  See pigeon.

rock dove  See pigeon. 

squab  See pigeon

squirrel  Substitutes:  rabbit (larger)

turtle = cooter   Notes:   Turtle meat is very flavorful though it's somewhat chewy.  It often goes into soups.   Substitutes:  alligator meat OR frog's legs OR lobster 


venison    Notes:   The term venison applies to deer meat, elk meat, moose meat, caribou meat, and reindeer meat, all of which can be used interchangeably.   Venison is very lean, so it's important not to overcook it.  The best cuts are from the back strap, or loin area.   If you want to tone down the gamy flavor, marinate it in milk or add some vinegar to the sauce.   Substitutes:  antelope meat OR beef (not as gamy or lean) OR bear  

wood pigeon  See pigeon


Copyright 1996-2005  Lori Alden