how to remove the 'gamey' taste in wild meat 🦌

Marjory Wildcraft
Marjory Wildcraft Posts: 1,613 admin

I just just gifted with 3 big chunks of road kill Elk. The meat is fine - and surprisingly tneder. But it has that 'gamey' taste just over my threshold of enjoyability.

Do you have a way to remove the gamey taste? I heard someone once told me to soak the meat in milk for a few hours? 🥛

Have you tried that method. Or do you have another suggestion?


  • judsoncarroll4
    judsoncarroll4 Posts: 5,455 admin
    edited October 2019

    Well, my standard answer is that meat that has been handled properly has no gamey taste (except for coons, possums, bears, etc that eat trash). BUT, yours is road kill. We can expect it to be... perhaps... a little ripe. First, trim off all fat and any meat that even shows the slightest taint. Then, salt it and let it rest. If it still has a "gamey smell"... wine or beer is really the best choice, especially if it is home brewed. The natural yeasts in real beer, the sugars, the alcohol, etc will work magic. Now, we are in the realm of ferment... you want a medium that is actively "probiotic". Water kefir or plain kombucha would be good choices. Most folks use buttermilk or vinegar as a marinate base. Some use yogurt. Now, fats could absorb off odors.. and that is the base of most milk based solutions. But, when all else fails, that leads us to America's favorite marinated... Italian dressing. Yes, that sounds crazy for a half French cook to suggest, but it not only works, it makes sense. Italian vinegar is based on oil and vinegar, and spiced with strongly flavored, anti-biotic herbs and garlic. Some do beer and Italian dressing. Regardless, soak for 12 hours or so and discard the brine. Me... I'd probably just salt and do a short dry cure... I like somewhat "ripe flavors" in moderation. But, a brine like I described and some Creole Seasoning is standard for most southern cooks who cook any game at all... over used, yes... but a solid strategy.

  • shllnzl
    shllnzl Posts: 1,820 ✭✭✭✭✭

    Hi Marjory,

    Usually elk tastes a lot like beef and doesn't require extra treatment.

    Milk has never worked for mule deer or antelope in my experience. Both animals have a strong wild taste.

    The easiest thing would be to marinate the meat for a couple of hours in Italian dressing.

    The minimum of what you need is onion, garlic and an acid like vinegar or lemon.

  • judsoncarroll4
    judsoncarroll4 Posts: 5,455 admin
    edited October 2019

    Oh, another good strategy is sauerbraten or sweet and sour..... sauerkraut or vinegar brine, sweet spicy cooking flavors. Remember, almost all of our food spicing/herb flavoring strategies that we inherited come from centuries of trying to preserve meat or make "ripe" meat more palatable. As @shllnzl said, garlic and onion is a must... so is salt and pepper! Curry is also a great strategy. Any combo of garlic and onion, turmeric, oregano and clove is very good, as well.

  • nksunshine27
    nksunshine27 Posts: 343 ✭✭✭

    @Marjory Wildcraft , @judsoncarroll44 , @shllnzl , my husband was giving some deer that was butchered during the rut season so it does have a little amy taste and i'v done my share of picking up roadkill here is a recipe that works for probably any meat that has a gamey taste ....season salt, pappy's seasoning, pepper all to taste, 3/8c olive oil,1/16 c liquid smoke, 1/8 c. red wine vinegar, 3/8 c. dry onion soup mix. seson meat with first 3 ing. put meat in a ziplock bag add liquids and onion soup mix. close bag shake and mush to cover all meat. let sit at least 10 min or upto 12 hours, i bbq mine and cooked to leftover marinade to put on the meat if i wanted. hope this helps

  • Marjory Wildcraft
    Marjory Wildcraft Posts: 1,613 admin

    Hey everyone - WOW I just had an amazing experience. A taste memory...

    I made a marinade of salt, pepper, fresh chopped garlic, and Bragg's living apple cider vinegar (per @judsoncarroll4 recommendation that something probiotic and alive should be used).

    I let is 'soak' for about 12 hours. And the meat did taste quite good - the gamey taste subdued significantly - more than enough to make the meat enjoyable.

    But here is the amazing part. The moment I tasted it I recognized the taste as my mothers cooking from gosh, 45 years ago?

    It blew me away... that was very much what my moms stew meats tasted like - even with the bit of 'gameyness' hiding in the background.

    Now I know my mom didn't have access to Elk - we grew up in S. Florida. And I never thought she would have butchered any road kill... but she had friends who might have. And we certainly didn't have any money (she essentailly was a single mom as my dad died when I was young) and she would have been resourceful enough to use meat given to her.

    Wow... now I am going to have to ask my older sibling if they knew anything about this.

  • judsoncarroll4
    judsoncarroll4 Posts: 5,455 admin

    I know exactly what you mean! I 'm not sure I could ever develop a taste for super strongly aged meat... like the way the Brits hang their birds. But, my grandparents had a farm in southeastern NC (hot and humid!)... and my dad's family had grocery stores with a real, old fashioned butcher... one way or the other, the meat I grew up on had a little ripeness... especially since we always took home the unintentionally aged meat. All these years later and lots of professional cooking experience... I find that George L. Herter's advice on meat really was best. I'm a proud and stubborn "Bull Cook"! I'm glad you enjoyed your meal...for me, the memory is of air dried country sausage in natural casings that my great grandparents made.... a little "cheesy"... a little funky....lots of "umami". They used no "pink salt" or modern preservatives - just spiced ground pork, salt and pepper in hog casings, hung from the rafters. The sausages would be covered in a white mold.... occasionally, they would wash the mold off with vinegar. All that is totally illegal in America, today. But, sometimes we make it just for personal use. It is hard to describe that flavor other than strong cheese or fermented butter.... maybe mushrooms. Anyway, glad to help - THIS is what I do... old fashioned, traditional foodways are my passion!