Wild meat and game is the healthiest meat on the planet. It is leaner, antibiotics and chemicals free, it contains E.P.A (eicosapentaenoic acid)*, is fuller of flavour, denser of texture and lower in fat, cholesterol, and calories than most other meat. It’s also high in protein, iron and vitamin B, yet low in saturated fat. The animals are also not genetically modified or in any other way unnaturally “enhanced.”
(*E.P.A. (eicosapentaenoic acid) is a fatty acid that facilitates blood flow. Some studies link human ingestion of E.P.A. to reduced risk of heart attacks, arthritis and hardening of the arteries. E.P.A is formed in the blood of wild animals as a protective agent against cold. Farm animals just don’t make it)
As the animal doesn’t have to handled, transported or experience the slaughter house the issue of cortisol and adrenaline being released due to stress is eliminated. Wild meat and game is the original sustainable, free-ranging, organic, natural fed meat.
The animal has a free and natural life, it has typically lived a lot longer than a farmed animal and avoiding the slaughter house makes it highest on the ethical list. The further towards the intensively farmed system you go the bigger the gap becomes.
Wild meat is an animal that was born naturally, has had not form of human intervention and has been hunted, for example wild boar, deer, wild birds etc. Game is animals raised specially the sport of shooting, they are often bred in captivity, then realised into the wild, they are provided with feeding stations to keep them from flying away, for example pheasants, partridge, grouse. Some animals are both wild meat and game. The bottom line is the same, the animal and therefore the meat is as nature intended.
The great news is that the majority of game and wild meat is reasonably priced. Unless you are in central London in a fancy butchers you should be able to find fairly priced wild meat and game in farm shops, butchers, specialists suppliers and online.
There are seasons for game so buy when it is in season. Meat freezes really well, so stock up at the right time. I found a good offer on 1KG of pheasant breast for a similar price to intensively farm chicken breast today. These meats are at the opposite ends of the scale so being close in price it is a no brainer! see https://www.wildmeat.co.uk/collections/pheasant/products/pheasant-breast-fillets
Correct cooking of wild meat and game is important. As there is often little of no fat and the age of the animal is unknown so it is best to use specific instructions for cooking. For example when I cook pheasant I braise it:
- Heat pan with a knob of butter or oil. Add pheasants breasts and cook both sides until sealed.
- Chop onion and garlic, place on the bottom of the dish, lay pheasant breast on tops, add stock and splash of apple juice to half cover the meat, cover tightly with a lid or an foil (no steam must escape) and cook for around 40 mins at 180C.
- Serve or add to a dish such as Indian or Thai curry
- Or make a stew and slow cook all the ingredients
I make a dish called ‘marry me pie’ which is mixed game in white sauce and shortcrust pastry. I’ll post the recipe.
If you are unsure of the best way to cook the piece of meat you have, try slicing off a tiny piece and frying it for a short time over a high heat. If it is chewy then it is best slow cooked, but if you find it is tender, you can cook as you would a steak or chicken breast, pan fry etc..
Parting thoughts: A lot of people don’t like the idea of shooting Bambi or watching a bird falling out of the sky, but the reality is if you eat meat it is the most ethical choose. Hunting is where our meat eating history begins and in these times of intensive farming, you are wise to choose wild meats or ethically farmed, free range or organic meat.
Remember a lot of meats you consider to be wild or game animals are also farmed so check it is wild not farmed. A good example of duck, check is states ‘wild duck’. It is unlikely that you will find wild meat in a supermarket due to the consistency in the supply chain look for a butcher of specialist supplier.
A few suppliers online: