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How To BEAR Eating Bear Meat

As an outfitter, we often hear how many people would love to hunt bear but have no idea what to do with all the meat or if they did keep it, how to cook it (Ontario is a no waste province, it is mandatory to take all of the meat with you upon departure.)

Below is an excerpt from a great story written by Jackson Landers and how he dealt with an unexpected amount of bear meat…..and what he learned.

bearfordinner

Now I had heard all sorts of stories from hunters about what bear meat is like: that it’s tough, gamey, and unpleasantly greasy. But in my experience eating a fairly wide array of unusual species, I had found that meat that tastes “tough and gamey” is more often a case of bad butchering and sloppy handling than an intrinsic quality of a species.

To maximize the potential flavor of my bear, I dry-aged it for a week before I started experimenting. Dry-aging meat, for the uninitiated, is the process of letting meat hang out for a while at cool temperatures while allowing moisture to evaporate from it. Dry-aging accomplishes two things. First, natural enzymes in the meat begin to tenderize it by breaking down the collagen in the muscles. (Collagen is what makes tough meat feel tough, and more of it builds up in muscle tissue as an animal gets older.) Second, dry-aging allows water to evaporate out of a piece of meat, concentrating the flavor. High-end steakhouses all do this with their beef, and I have been dry-aging most of my venison in my fridge at home for years.

Once my bear was sufficiently dry-aged, the very first thing I tried was cutting some simple steaks out of a forequarter (the upper portions of the front legs) and from the backstraps (the cuts from alongside the spine that are referred to as “pork loin” in pigs). I wanted to keep the recipe simple so as not to hide the true flavor of the meat, but I also wanted to have some fun. So I just ran with the bear theme. I pan-seared the steaks in olive oil and drizzled just a bit of honey on them. A handful of blueberries went into the pan with them (bears love blueberries almost as much as they love honey). Then I transferred the meat to a covered dish to finish cooking in the oven and deglazed the pan with a splash of Toasted Head cabernet sauvignon, which I had chosen on account of the wine’s label having a black bear on it. I made sure to cook the meat to 140 degrees and hold it there for a while, since bears, like pigs, can carry trichinosis.

bearroast

My girlfriend and I sat down to eat our first bites of bear meat, drizzled with that red-wine pan sauce. The texture was good, and the backstrap cuts were a bit more tender than the forequarter cuts. The flavor was mild; it tasted more or less identical to venison—which is to say a lot like beef, only with less fat and a blander flavor. There was nothing greasy or tough about it. It looked like a thick piece of filet mignon. Between sips of the bear-bearing Toasted Head wine (which paired very nicely with the bear meat, I should add), we soon forgot that it was bear meat that we were eating. By the end of the meal, it was just dinner, no more exotic than the artichokes we served along with it.

Heartened, I started putting bear meat in everything. And once I began running it through the meat grinder, the stuff became a household staple. Think bear tacos, spaghetti with bear sauce, lime-marinated bear stir-fry served over ramen noodles.

moosestir

Bear burgers in particular were a big hit. I mixed one egg with 1 pound of ground bear meat and just a touch of onion powder and pepper and broiled them under high heat. Three minutes per side seemed to get me up over 140 degrees every time, without taking the burgers beyond medium-rare. I invited some friends over to eat them, and the unanimous agreement was that they simply tasted like very good beef burgers and that nobody would ever guess they were bear.

I began to take the ground bear meat so much for granted that I confess to feeding it to a dinner guest in a ragout over angel hair pasta without thinking to tell her that she was eating bear as opposed to beef. She ate every bite. I’m still not sure whether I should tell her what she ate.

Lately I’ve found myself worrying about the dwindling supply of bear meat in my fridge and freezer. I have one whole hindquarter in my chest freezer awaiting a special bear dinner with a group of friends, but other than that and a pound or so of medallions, all I’ve got left is an array of very unusual bones that my dogs have been chewing on in the front yard. What will I do when I run out?

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How To Prevent Venison From Tasting Awful

I hear people say all the time that they don’t like the taste of deer. Some people say that just because they know what they’re eating and have a preconceived notion that it won’t be good. Others have legit gripes, mainly due to poor handling by the hunter from the time of the kill up until it was cooked. This often results in gamey, tough meat. Here are some tips to help combat bad-tasting venison.

venison

Hunting in the real world is not like the Outdoor Channel portrays it to be. Hunters make bad shots from time to time and the deer has to be tracked for a while. Shot placement and the stress the animal received while being trailed plays a big role in gamey meat. The faster a deer dies, the sooner it can be field dressed. This will reduce the amount of acid that builds up in the deer’s muscles.

Hunters often fail to get the deer cooled as quickly as possible. The first step it to field dress the animal immediately and wash out the cavity with cool water. Be sure to dry the cavity out, as the water can be a breeding ground for bacteria. If the temperatures outside are in the mid-30s or cooler, it’s okay to let the deer hang. Anything warmer than that, and the deer needs to hang in a walk-in cooler (or be skinned, quartered, and put on ice if you don’t have a walk-in).

A whitetail is not a hard to deer to quarter. Because of how their joints and tissues hold their legs on, a simple pocket knife can have a deer quartered quicker than you might think. Some might use a saw to cut through bone marrow and small pieces of bone, but then you’d need to watch that shavings from the saw don’t get mixed in with the meat. Stick with a sharp knife instead, and your meat will be free of small bone pieces that can contaminate the meat.

Growing up, I can remember how much my dad loved the taste of fat from a good cut of beef. The same does not hold true with deer fat. Simply stated, deer fat tastes awful. It is not red meat, so cut it off before it’s made into steaks or burger. This includes all fat and silver skin.

Every year before deer season begins, we call in an order to the local butcher shop for beef suet. Even though we removed all of the deer fat, we need to add some sort of fat, whether beef or pork, when grinding it. If this is not done, the lean venison will quickly fall apart when making burgers, meat loaves, etc. We add beef fat at a ratio of 3:1 (three pounds venison per pound of fat).

If you have the means, the time, and the knowledge, I recommend processing all your deer yourself. When you take a deer to a meat locker you can’t be sure how the meat is handled — or if it’s even your own deer that you’re getting back. For all you know, you could be getting back someone elses deer, perhaps one that was gut-shot and not properly handled after the shot. If you have to take a deer to a processor, research the facility by talking to other hunters who’ve used it, and also talk with the workers, who will hopefully be honest with you.

Don’t overcook venison. Cooking deer for too long causes it to become chewy and dry. Venison is best cooked to medium rare, but the outside needs to be cooked. To accomplish this, the grill must be hot enough to quickly sear the outside and lock in the flavors and juices. Turn your venison only once. If there are no grill marks on the meat after three minutes or so, the grate is not hot enough.

Freezer-burnt food, whether it is venison or other food, does not taste good. Some people use a vacuum sealer; if you go this route, buy a good one, as a cheap product will not keep the food fresh. When we butcher our deer, we make wrapping the meat a family affair, with all involved. We put one-pound portions of burger in sandwich bags and the steaks and roasts are wrapped with plastic wrap. After covering it with plastic wrap, we wrap it with good freezer paper and tapes. Writing on each package, we identify the cut of meat, who killed it, and the date of the kill.

I hope this advice helps you create a great-tasting meal. A few more final tips: The younger the deer, the better, more tender it will be (even though this might not sit well with trophy hunters). Thaw venison slowly to prevent toughness, then serve it hot and keep the remainder hot to prevent it from getting a waxy taste.

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Moose Stir Fry

8

This delicious moose dish is low in fat. The amount of each ingredient is proportional to how many people you’re serving. Using half a pound of moose, as this recipe does, makes two large servings.

Ingredients

  • 1/2 lb. moose steak
  • 1/2 cup carrots
  • 1/2 cup bean sprouts
  • 1/4 cup celery
  • 1/2 cup snow peas
  • 1/2 cup broccoli
  • 1/4 cup unsalted peanuts
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1/2 cup soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp crushed red pepper
  • 1 tbsp cumin
  • Cooked noodles (excluding seasoning packet)

Preparation

  • Slice steaks cross grain and marinade in soy sauce for one day. Throw a little oil into a hot wok to avoid sticking. Stir in moose for about 1 minute.
  • Add other ingredients, including seasoning, stirring frequently. Add additional soy sauce to coat all ingredients.
  • Stir in noodles and serve immediately.

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Posted by on February 22, 2018 in moose, recipe, Wawang Lake Resort

 

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Recipe: Moose Tenderloin Lettuce Wraps

This super simple lunch idea will definitely be something you’ll be sure to make over and over.

mooselettucewrapscopy-600x399

 

Ingredients
marinated moose tenderloin (thinly sliced) Get Marinate Recipe HERE

1 head butter lettuce
1 carrot
1 mini cucumber
feta cheese

Honey Cherry Dressing
1/2 cup cherries
3/4 cup red wine
2 tbsp honey

For the cherry dressing simply put all the ingredients in a saucepan, bring to a boil and reduce heat and simmer.  Describe it as, once you can’t smell the alcohol anymore it’s ready!  Take it off the burner and let cool.  As it cools it will gradually thicken.

Pan fry the moose until desired done-ness.  If you are like me and you like your meat not kicking anymore, then simply remove the meat just before its cooked all the way through.  If it’s sliced thinly it will continue to cook after you take it out of the pan and will be the exact done-ness and will be nice and tender.

Next up shave your vegetables.  Grab a potato peeler and shaved off nice strands of carrots and cucumbers to add in to the lettuce cups.  If you prefer them chopped or grated, by all means go right ahead!

Place your butter lettuce leaves on a plate and begin to assemble and alternated between moose and veggies, crumble feta cheese on top and drizzle the Honey Cherry Dressing on top.

Make as many lettuce cups as you’d like depending on how much meat you used!

Enjoy!

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Moose Stir Fry

8

This delicious moose dish is low in fat. The amount of each ingredient is proportional to how many people you’re serving. Using half a pound of moose, as this recipe does, makes two large servings.

Ingredients

  • 1/2 lb. moose steak
  • 1/2 cup carrots
  • 1/2 cup bean sprouts
  • 1/4 cup celery
  • 1/2 cup snow peas
  • 1/2 cup broccoli
  • 1/4 cup unsalted peanuts
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1/2 cup soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp crushed red pepper
  • 1 tbsp cumin
  • Cooked noodles (excluding seasoning packet)

Preparation

  • Slice steaks cross grain and marinade in soy sauce for one day. Throw a little oil into a hot wok to avoid sticking. Stir in moose for about 1 minute.
  • Add other ingredients, including seasoning, stirring frequently. Add additional soy sauce to coat all ingredients.
  • Stir in noodles and serve immediately.

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Posted by on November 7, 2017 in moose, recipe, Wawang Lake Resort

 

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An illustrated Guide to the Best Game Meat Cuts

There are plenty of hunters out in the field bringing home dinner and we figured we would share some great guides on the best cuts and how to get them from your harvest!  Click on each picture to enlarge for greater detail 🙂

This diagram is the basic overview of the quarters and can be applied to deer, moose, elk and caribou.

illustrated deer

This second diagram is a more in depth cut selection and is coded for the sections as well.  Again, this can be applied to deer, moose, elk and caribou.

deerchart

Ensure before you properly care for your game in all stages of meat preparation to give not only longevity to the meat, but reduce the risk of cross contamination of any bacteria that could not only spoil the meat but could also make you very sick.

Happy hunting!

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Posted by on September 28, 2017 in game, recipe, Wawang Lake Resort

 

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Blueberries – a Critical Food for Black Bear

imagesB4EBB1P8 Blueberries are an important food source throughout the black bear range.  The most commonly eaten berries in our area of northwestern Ontario are blueberries and raspberries.   Many other berries are eaten, but they have shorter seasons, are scarce, or are less preferred.

The period when blueberries  are abundant in our area is short & mainly in August-making that period critically important in the black bear’s annual cycle of events.  Efficient feeding during that time is critically important to winter survival, growth, and reproductive success.  Researchers found that bears in NW Ontario end mating activities before the critical feeding period and focus on feeding for the remainder of the summer.

Black bears are efficient berry-eaters, consuming up to 30,000 berries a day in a good year.  They gather berries quickly, using their sensitive, mobile lips and swallowing them whole.  The berries enter a two-part stomach, which grinds the pulp off the seeds.

 

imagesP1Y6BVCSThe seeds pass through the digestive tract unbroken and able to germinate, making black bears important seed dispersers.  Each summer, they spread the seeds of their favorite berries all over their home ranges.

Black Bear around Wawang Lake gain weight most rapidly during July and August when berries are abundant.  When the berries run out in September, there is little else to eat.  The bear usually seek out their dens in September or October.   The longer period of food abundance enables bears to achieve more growth and reach maturity more quickly than bear.  Bear in NW Ontario typically produce their first litters at 4 to 5 years of age.

Berries contain anti-oxidants, and the seeds of some species contain vitamin B-17, considered an anti-cancer compound by some scientists.  Although cancer occurs in captive bear, it has never been reported in wild bear.

RECIPES

blueberry pancakes wawang lake

Blueberry Pancakes

 

GLUTEN FREE BLUEBERRY PIE

Gluten FREE Blueberry Pie

 

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Posted by on August 20, 2017 in black bear, recipe, Wawang Lake Resort

 

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