Bottles clank as the cooler lid creaks open. Laughter is intertwined with the rumble of a distant lawn mower. A warm breeze carries the scent of glowing charcoal across the patio, but your thoughts are elsewhere.
|Fire up the grill for a wild game feast! When cooked correctly, these succulent cuts will have everyone coming back for more.
You find yourself in the duck marsh, sleet stinging your face as cupped wings float towards the blind. Your breath beats against your facemask as the thunder of a spring gobble echoes in your ears. You feel the tremble in your knees as his tines glisten in the last bit of autumn sunlight. There’s just something about the sizzle of wild game over an open flame that brings the hunt back, if only for a moment.
While hunting season may be long gone, enjoying a game animal fresh from the grill seems like a fitting final act of respect—especially when paired with good friends and a frosty beverage. Here’s a handy guide for grilling 5 famous cuts. Stick to this and it won’t be long before your freezer—and that creaky cooler—need to be restocked.
|Photo courtesy of The Meatwave.
Duck breasts should be skinned, split, and de-boned before cooking. The rich flavor works well with a zesty marinade or savory rub. Some like to marinade for up to 3 days, but an overnight soak should do the trick.
Wrap the breasts in bacon if desired and reserve some marinade for basting. Grill over medium-hot coals for about 8 minutes on each side. You will know they are done when the center of the breasts is pink and the bacon begins to crisp.
|Photo courtesy of HowToCookMeat.com.
Deer steaks are often cut thin and extremely lean. This makes them easy to overcook, but a delicious and healthy cut if grilled correctly.
Standard steak marinades, Italian dressing, or a coat of freshly-ground black pepper serves venison well. Soak overnight, while thawing if necessary. Thinner cuts can be placed on the grill while still cold in the center. This will protect them from taking on the texture of your baseball glove.
Grill on high-heat, for only 2-3 minutes on each side. Do not flip more than once and keep a close eye—you can wait until the next horseshoe game.
|Photo courtesy of Taste of Home.
Wild Turkey Breast
Slice your turkey breast into serving-sized portions. If using a marinade, be sure to submerge and refrigerate your turkey for at least 24 hours. This will result in maximum flavor. There are also many rub options out there. Experiment until you find your favorite.
Grill over medium-hot coals for approximately 10 minutes per side. Be careful, as turkey needs to be cooked thoroughly, but has a tendency to quickly dry out. Continue basting with marinade as needed. Mesquite or hickory chips can be added to the coals for additional aroma and flavor.
|Photo courtesy of From Forest To Fork.
Whole Elk Tenderloin
Tenderloin is such a tender and delicious cut that it’s best to let the natural flavor shine. Brush it with olive oil and season to taste with salt and pepper.
Heat the grill to medium-high and add chips if desired. Grill for about 5 minutes on each side, flipping only once. Be sure to protect against flare-ups. Let the meat rest before slicing and digging in.
|Photo courtesy of Texas Monthly.
Bacon-Wrapped Dove Breasts
The only thing that’s more fun than bagging a limit of doves is savoring each morsel as they come off the grill.
Do your prep work first. Breasts should be split, de-boned, and free of shot. Marinade them if desired, but it’s not absolutely necessary. You will, however, need strips of bacon, jalapeños, cream cheese and toothpicks.
Slice jalapeños in half. The seeds provide most of the heat, so remove these if the cooler is already running low. Fill the peppers with cream cheese and place between dove breasts. Wrap in a delicious blanket—disguised as a half-strip of bacon—and pin it all together with a toothpick. Grill over medium heat until the bacon is crispy and you can’t stand to wait any longer.
Grilling is one of the joys of summer. Pay your game the ultimate respect by enjoying it whole-heartedly with some deserving company. Follow this guide to ensure you get the most out of every cut, but don’t forget to experiment. The best recipes are often developed by trying new things.
Interested in adding even more flavor? Check out our 8 Easy Tips for Smoking Meat Like a Pro.