Episode #2 Wild Game Culinary, part of The Sporting Life Podcast with Bob Svetich is out. The Importance of Big Game Field Care: Having a plan for your harvest before you take off on the hunt is imperative to big game meat quality.
Start your planning before the hunt. Know what the weather, terrain, facilities at camp and refrigeration situation will be like. Bring what you need; game bags, sealable plastic bags, knives, cutting board, freezer paper. Find out if you will likely be breaking the animal down in the field or if you’ll be able to bring it back to camp. If you will be flying, find out how and where you can freeze your meat before travel.
Once an animal is down it’s important to gut the animal and get the meat cooling. Whether hanging whole or butchering down to packable portions (front shoulder, hind quarter, etc) meat should begin the again process between 33º-44º. Sometimes the weather cooperates perfectly and the animal can be hung to age in a shop or garage but other times it must be broken down and put in a refrigerator. Always age meat uncovered in the refrigerator. Air circulation is an important part of the aging process.
When breaking down an animal always get rid of any blood-shot meat. This meat will spoil quickly and ruin the rest of the meat. Remove heart, liver, tongue and tenderloins and put in sealable plastic bags in a cooler or refrigerator.
We like to age meat 5-10 days. If there isn’t time to age meat on the bone prior to processing, freeze the cuts and age prior to cooking. Meat can be aged in the refrigerator, uncovered, on a wire rack. Put something under the rack to catch blood drippings that will occur while meat is defrosting. Always defrost meat under refrigeration. It takes longer but will yield much better flavors.
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