Why Wild Game Processing?
Before we get into the details of wild game processing, let’s talk about why. Each person may have a different personal “why,” but there are also some fact-based “whys” you should consider. Typically, you never know what goes into your grind when coming from a processor, it could literally be scraps left over you personally would have never used, or worse yet, it could be from someone else’s animal that did not take the time or care in the field that you did. Processors are in a hurry, and time is money, so they are going to run meat through the grinder as fast as possible. Not saying all wild game processing happens this way, but there’s a good possibility that processors won’t take the time to remove the facia or the silver skin, which is impossible to chew and what gives wild game the so-called “gamey” taste.
Before the Grind
Before you plug in the grinder and start the wild game processing, there are multiple things you’ll want to do.
- Remove all silver skin and facia. You’ve heard the expression, “garbage in, garbage out,” and the same applies here—if you leave the less desirable pieces on your meat, it will taste like it.
- Instead of cubing all the meat, cut into strips. This saves time and is easier to feed into the grinder
- Put the housing, blade and dyes in the freezer for about 30 minutes. Moving parts create heat, which will soften the fat and clog up your grinder. Keeping the grinder parts cold will help keep the meat chilled.
- Put the strips of meat in the freezer for about 30 minutes as well. This will firm up the meat and create a much cleaner grind.
Buy Once, Cry Once
This is a phrase we use when referring to optics in our long-range schools. Processing equipment can be expensive but doesn’t fall into the trap of sacrificing quality for a cheap price. Look for grinders with quality materials (stainless steel housings, blades and dyes). You also need to make sure your grinder of choice has enough HP to cover the amount of wild game you intend to process.
The OS team has used processing equipment from Meat Your Maker since day one. They are a direct-to-consumer company, which means no middleman pricing. With options that range from 500w to 1 ½ HP, they will have a grinder that fits your needs. Through our From Field To Table program, and personally, we go through hundreds of animals per year, so we utilize several of the 1.5hp grinders. I honestly believe you could grind up a Volkswagen with one of those things. With that being said, don’t underestimate the 500w grinder. Since it is just myself and my wife, Deborah, at home, it is my go-to piece of equipment for 5 to 10 pounds of wild game processing.
How Much Fat?
Depends on what you are cooking and personal preference. For my burgers, I stick with a standard 20%, this helps the patties, meatballs or whatever you are making stick together and not fall apart on the grill.
Chili, stews or a spaghetti sauce, I might even take it down a notch to 10 or 15% since I don’t need it stick together.
When I’m grinding to make some type of sausage, like Chorizo, brats or Sweet Italian, I will go a bit heavier on the fat and bump it up to 30 or even 35%.
As far as what type of fat, our go-to is pork, preferably fatback, but pork butt is easier to find. I also will use bacon pieces but you have to be careful that it does not overpower the flavor of what you are preparing.
Check out the video below to see us do a demo on some fresh ground elk while we are still in camp.