Wild Game: Recipes for Healthy Meat Alternatives

Increasingly popular with gourmet diners, wild game offers meat eaters a healthier alternative.

  • Grilled Buffalo Tenderloin with Root Vegetables, created by Chef Jody Denton, won the Wild About Game Cook-Off’s second-place award.
    Photo By Susan Seubert
  • Roasted Elk Loin Rack from Chef John Sundstrom of Lark Restaurant in Seattle.
    Photo By Susan Seubert
  • Sauteed Quail Breast from Chef Scott Staples of Seattle's Restaurant Zoe.
    Photo By Susan Seubert
  • Chefs at the annual Wild About Game Cook-Off use local, seasonal produce to prepare gourmet gammeat entries.
    Photo By Susan Seubert
  • Chefs race through the kitchen as they prepare for the cook-off.
    Photo By Susan Seubert

With growing concerns about food sources, more and more people are turning to wild game as an alternative to industrially farmed meats. Many species are high in omega-three fatty acids and have all of the protein of traditional livestock, but with less unhealthy saturated fat.

More often farmed than hunted these days, game meat, such as venison, buffalo and duck, still has the same genetic markers as its forebears. There are fewer health and humane-treatment concerns with game as with factory-farmed meats, but check the source of any meat you eat. (Game meat is subjected to voluntary U.S. Department of Agriculture inspection only.) Seek out elk, bison and deer that have been grass fed. While game animals aren’t treated with growth hormones, ask whether birds, such as duck and geese, have been treated with antibiotics.

Chefs and diners in Portland, Oregon, find new ways to enjoy game meat every September during the Wild About Game Cook-Off sponsored by Nicky USA, a West Coast game-meat purveyor. During the competition, the contestant chefs draw a slip of paper to determine what kind of meat they will cook, and they spend the day preparing feasts using a variety of local, seasonal ingredients. Meanwhile, guests peruse booths featuring Oregon’s bounty, from wines and seafood to produce.

1st Place: Roasted Elk Loin Rack 

Chef John Sundstrom, Lark Restaurant
Seattle, Washington

This recipe is part of a beautiful multicourse meal called Elk Tasting, which includes Elk Loin Chop with Celery Root and Truffle Salt, Elk Liver with Pearl Onions and Quince-Vanilla Bean Gastrique, and Elk and Wild Mushroom Crépinette.

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