Guide to Slow Cooking Wild Game Birds
Although game animals are traditionally associated with hunting, many
are now widely available in supermarkets. In fact, some farms have
started raising game animals for mass consumption. There are two major
types of game, birds and furry animals. While all these various
creatures produce very different meat, they can all be prepared into a
delicious meal using a slow cooker.
Game birds include pheasant, partridge, grouse, quail, and other
commonly hunted small fowl. Choosing the best cuts of meat from these
birds is somewhat different than selecting poultry. For example,
varieties like pheasant and partridge will have a somewhat pungent
aroma, which is a sign of their freshness. Additionally, birds like
grouse and quail should look meatier than poultry birds and have smaller
bones. Before preparing any type of game bird, it is important to double
check the meat for any bullets or pellets. When game birds are hunted,
these shots often break into fragments. You will want to use your
fingertips to detect any remaining fragments and carefully remove them
prior to cooking.
Cooking Older Game Birds
Older game birds will benefit most from slow cooking. Techniques such
as braising, pot roasting, and stewing work well with these tougher,
drier birds. One popular method of cooking an older game fowl involves
wrapping the bird with pieces of fatty bacon. This helps draw flavour out
of the meat while it cooks. Additionally, the various breeds of game
birds respond differently when slow cooked. For example, pheasant is
especially responsive to pot roasting and stewing as a whole bird.
Meanwhile, pigeon is frequently cooked in a steamed pudding with other
meats and partridge blends will into casseroles.
Sizes of the Game Birds
The various breeds of game birds are also differentiated by their
size. The type of bird you choose will determine how many pieces of game
you will need to adequately serve your guests. The largest of the game
fowl are usually pheasants. These are so meaty that a single pheasant
can feed up to three people. In contrast, grouse is a rather small game
bird, which means it will rarely serve more than two people. Partridge,
an even smaller fowl, is fit for just a single person, while quail are
so small you may need two birds per diner.
All game birds respond exceptionally well to marinating techniques.
When these are used prior to cooking, an exceptionally moist, rich
flavour can be gained. For best results, birds should be allowed to
marinate for at least four hours or overnight. You should always
marinate your meat in a shallow, covered dish placed in the
refrigerator. Additionally, birds will need to be turned once while
marinating to ensure an even flavour. As for the actual marinade used,
game birds lend themselves to a wide variety of flavours. However, some
of the most popular choices include red wines, citrus and herbs, and
cider mixed with ginger.