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Featured Game Recipe:Simple Game Pie

Slow Cooker Recipes > Game Recipes

Guide to Slow Cooking Wild Game Birds

Although game animals are traditionally associated with hunting, many are now widely available in supermarkets. In fact, some farms have started raising game animals for mass consumption. There are two major types of game, birds and furry animals. While all these various creatures produce very different meat, they can all be prepared into a delicious meal using a slow cooker.

Game birds include pheasant, partridge, grouse, quail, and other commonly hunted small fowl. Choosing the best cuts of meat from these birds is somewhat different than selecting poultry. For example, varieties like pheasant and partridge will have a somewhat pungent aroma, which is a sign of their freshness. Additionally, birds like grouse and quail should look meatier than poultry birds and have smaller bones. Before preparing any type of game bird, it is important to double check the meat for any bullets or pellets. When game birds are hunted, these shots often break into fragments. You will want to use your fingertips to detect any remaining fragments and carefully remove them prior to cooking.

Cooking Older Game Birds

Older game birds will benefit most from slow cooking. Techniques such as braising, pot roasting, and stewing work well with these tougher, drier birds. One popular method of cooking an older game fowl involves wrapping the bird with pieces of fatty bacon. This helps draw flavour out of the meat while it cooks. Additionally, the various breeds of game birds respond differently when slow cooked. For example, pheasant is especially responsive to pot roasting and stewing as a whole bird. Meanwhile, pigeon is frequently cooked in a steamed pudding with other meats and partridge blends will into casseroles.

Sizes of the Game Birds

The various breeds of game birds are also differentiated by their size. The type of bird you choose will determine how many pieces of game you will need to adequately serve your guests. The largest of the game fowl are usually pheasants. These are so meaty that a single pheasant can feed up to three people. In contrast, grouse is a rather small game bird, which means it will rarely serve more than two people. Partridge, an even smaller fowl, is fit for just a single person, while quail are so small you may need two birds per diner.

Marinating Game

All game birds respond exceptionally well to marinating techniques. When these are used prior to cooking, an exceptionally moist, rich flavour can be gained. For best results, birds should be allowed to marinate for at least four hours or overnight. You should always marinate your meat in a shallow, covered dish placed in the refrigerator. Additionally, birds will need to be turned once while marinating to ensure an even flavour. As for the actual marinade used, game birds lend themselves to a wide variety of flavours. However, some of the most popular choices include red wines, citrus and herbs, and cider mixed with ginger.


Slow Cooker Tips - Near the end

  • Stir in spices for the last hour of cooking. They will lose flavour if cooked with the rest of the ingredients for the long cooking period.
  • Add tender vegetables like tomatoes, mushrooms and courgette during the last 45 minutes of cooking time so they don't overcook.
  • You can thicken the juices and concentrate flavours by removing the lid and cooking on HIGH for the last half hour of cooking time.

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