Wildly Delicious Wild Game Barbecue

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By: Joshua Rooks

First, let’s define our scope here. This article will provide you with information, tips and ideas on how to produce delicious delicacies of the wild game variety. If your palate prefers undomesticated meat, I’m talking to you.  


Smoking, grilling, and barbecuing wild game doesn’t often play by the rules of our normal recipes. Wild game meat quality is notoriously inconsistent. Fat content can vary greatly. This means that post smoke, you may be wondering why your meat is tough, dry or relatively bland. For these reasons, we often must add a few extra steps to our cooking process to ensure that our dining partners will enjoy their dishes. Unusual ingredients call for unusual recipes.  


Wrap it up 


If we suspect that our meat is low on fat and can potentially become dry during the cooking process, wrapping the meat can help. A few tricks that pitmasters use involve chicken skins and bacon. Bacon, of course, is one of nature’s finest purveyors of fat and therefore, moisture. Don’t be afraid to wrap your venison or elk in bacon to help it stay moist. For smaller cuts of meat, you can wrap the piece in chicken skins to help achieve the same result.  

  Wildly Delicious Wild Game Barbecue

Add some pork 


A popular method for cooking wild game is to turn it into sausage and burgers. As pitmasters know, this means grinding the meat. Here, a wonderful door opens to us. Most wild-game is low in fat. If you’re concerned about fat content for health reasons, it’s best to flavor and moisturize the meat with a different tip on this list.  


However, if you’re a big fan of the pig, I highly recommend adding some ground pork to your recipes. Ground pork adds flavor and moisture, so your wild game doesn’t dry out. For recipes using meat that is particularly lean, like wild game, a good base line is to have a 50/50 game to pork meat ratio. Once you’ve tried the first batch, you can adjust the levels more to your taste buds depending on how much of the wild game flavor you prefer.  


Try a brine 


I wrote an article extolling the virtues of the brine. Brining is equally effective for wild game. It helps to lock in moisture and add flavor to the meat. This is a good method to use when you don’t want to add extra fat content via pork. Your meat will be far less likely to dry out, while still retaining its naturally low-fat benefits.  


The brining process is relatively simple, but be sure to plan for the quantity of meat you want to use as it will affect the mixture of the brine. Additionally, the duration of your brining process is also important and is determined primarily by the amount of meat you plan to brine and its thickness. Osmosis takes some time to draw the salt and water mixture into the meat.  


As a rule of thumb, thin cuts of meat that have an average thickness of ½ inch to 1.5 inches will be fine with a brine time ranging from 25 mins to an hour and a half. Larger and denser cuts of meat will range from 2 hours to 24 hours. I know, that’s quite a range, but each type of meat has its own unique qualities, so be sure to have a recipe that addresses your meat choice as specifically as possible.  

 Wildly Delicious Wild Game Barbecue

Water pans 


To add clarity, these are trays and pans of water inside of your smoker that sit close to your heat source and boil, adding vapor to the interior of the smoker. With the vapor releasing around the meat, we are more likely to maintain moisture within the meat.  


We can also use this method to add flavor. We don’t have to limit ourselves to water in the pan. Another choice is beer. The beer will come to a boil and begin to produce vapor, thereby both moisturizing the meat, and adding its unique taste to the profile of the meat. Don’t worry about the alcohol content, as it cooks out of the beer during the process. 


And those are my main tips for better wild game barbecue! The key to cooking game is maintaining moisture. Once we’ve accomplished this goal, we can adjust the flavor profile in any way our palate desires. I hope this helped, and have a great day! 



Wildly Delicious Wild Game Barbecue

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