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17 responses to “On Cooking Wild vs. Domestic Meat”

  1. Angry Brit

    Truly excellent post. Game Meat 101. This might be my favourite of your posts thus far.

  2. Andrea

    ….and THIS is only one example of why you are so very deserving of the nomination for best food blog by the James Beard Foundation!

    Congratulations, Hank! You rock.

  3. Andrea

    PS When are you going to put your work into a book that will become a best seller? Because it is INEVITABLE.

  4. Peter

    Thanks for the comparisons Hank…good points to remember when cooking either wild or domestic.

  5. brendalynn

    Congratulations on the James Beard nom nom nomination!

  6. Thomas

    I thought about 2 you missed but I can’t think of any easy comparison meats and I hadn’t noticed recipes for them on your pages. Bears and big cats. Bears taste somewhat like dog but then most people in the US haven’t been in a situation where need for politeness to a host caused them to sample dog with a bit of grimacing in their mind.

    Nice article although I’d argue that nothing tastes like a good antelope that’s been killed and handled properly, most especially larger African antelopes species, but Prongers are up there too on the “ME WANT EAT NOW!” list for me, anyway.

    Happy Hunting and Eating,

  7. Thomas

    It’d also be hard to find something of equivalent size (big enough that you can make steaks out of) that tastes like gators, too. Similar to crustaceans such as shrimp and lobster et al but different enough. Snakes are also pretty unique.

    For somethings not on the list that I can come up with comparisons for: Nutria and squirrels are both somewhat like rabbit. Raccoons and Possums, it’d be a tough call as to what I’d say was near in taste but they’re all sorta in the “rodent tasting category” in my mind.

    Pardon my rambling, just the reading of your article caused some reminiscing on memorable game meals I’ve created and been served over the years.

    You covered the broad range and that’s what makes this a nice post. I doubt you’ll end up in a situation where somebody ever asks you what to substitute for a lot of stuff I’ve eaten over the years 😉

    Mostly when people ask me what things are like I have a habit of saying things like “Well, they were like wildebeest testicles, because that’s what they were!”

    You’re a better man than I who wrote a nice utility post.

    Happy Hunting and Eating,

  8. Catherine

    congratulations on your nomination! I’m SURE you’ll win!

  9. Angela@spinachtiger

    I was really impressed with this article, especially since I’m cooking out of Le Cordon Bleu at Home with a group and often doing substitutes because I cannot always get the required protein. Love your blog. Bravo.

  10. NorCal Cazadora

    Thomas, I’m told mountain lion tastes like pork, but I wouldn’t know because California outlawed mountain lion hunting (and if you do kill one to protect yourself or your livestock, you’re not allowed to eat it, which seems criminally wasteful to me).

  11. Nick

    I agree with Andrea, again great job. To write so comprehensively about such a little discussed topic is what I love about your blog.

    Angela-coming from a cook who was trained under Le Cordon Bleu in SF, please do not spend to much time on this cookbook. It will be worth your while to delve into some less rigid recipes. If you are a fan of classic french, let me suggest Anthony Bourdain’s Les Halles. This cookbook is much more relaxed and less stuffy french.

  12. Thomas


    A long time ago in a galaxy far far away, my roomate on a 2000 acre ranch we were caretaking took a bobcat. I can’t think of anything to compare it too and I’ve had the oddness of eating lion loin in Africa, thanks to a mate of Sand River Safaris if you ever go over there, and that didn’t taste at all like the bobcat.

    Funniest thing was, I had a heeler pup at the time, maybe 3 months if that. Barely weaned and about 6lbs dripping wet. She stood guard by the laydown freezer the bobcat went in until it came back out to be skinned and made into foods. Intermittently barking at the freezer because there was a big cat in it. She was one of the best dogs I ever had.

    She ate her serving of bobcat with a large amount of evident enjoyment.

    Was really funny having a pup bark all night at the freezer. Can’t say I blame her even if she did keep us sorta awake all night. She was going to have NO PART of a large cat in the ranch house.

  13. Wilderness Recipes Gang


    Great post!!! Many people don’t know what they are missing if they have not tried non-traditional meats that are mainly viewed as wild game in the United States. Whether the game is domestically raised or the result of a successful hunt, it is a delicacy not to be missed.
    One of the biggest contributors to gamey tasting wild game is the processing of the game from taking it down until it hits your grill or stove.

  14. Josh

    Why not colorado lamb?

  15. Hank Shaw

    Josh: Because most lamb raised in Colorado is finished on corn and other grains, which makes them taste milder and makes them a lot fatter. The flavor and fat profile of these lambs is quite different from those that are grass-fed.

  16. Linda Gertig

    Depending on what a bear has been eating, it can taste pretty much like non-confinement raised pork.I’d cook it low and slow. Probably no matter what the fat will reek so I would consider it useful but not edible.

  17. Anetta

    You’re a godsend – thanks for this helpful information!

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