what you need to know before processing game meat

blog banner before processing game meat

where meat comes from in animalKnow where good meat comes from before you process game

It is important to know what areas of the animal have higher quality meat before your try to process your own game meat.  Traditional butchering skills for cow do not actually translate to successful game meat processing.  This is because a cow has enough meat in enough places to make those cuts make sense.  But, there are still plenty of great reasons to do this meat processing yourself.  Additionally, if your trying to pack out 200 lbs of elk meat you might make some compromises.  You may opt to leave the spine and forgo making it out with any T-Bones. Knowing these fundamental concepts will allow you to get the right meat off an animal.

I simplify the process by only having three categories of meat: Steak, Stew Meat and, Hamburger.  While everyone has different preferences, I’ll show you what areas you SHOULD make steak with and what areas you CAN make steak with.  First and foremost, if you remember nothing else, you can feel the meat quality when you are butchering it.  If you get lost and have 50 lbs. of meat sitting on your kitchen counter, know that how easy the meat is to cut raw will tell you what type of meat it is.  Are you struggling to cut through it? it’s hamburger.  If you cut through it with ease it’ll probably make a good steak.  And if its in the middle I call that stew meat.  If you just payed attention to how easy it is to cut and nothing else you’ll be alright.

Steak Cuts

Before Iget started talking about steak cuts you’ll notice I wont be using terms like rib-eye, sirloin or filet mignon.  You’ll find that once you understand this process, you can further specify what type of steaks you have if you want.  These ‘restaurant cuts’ come from a cow which has a lot of meat surface area to work with.  If you did these cuts on a whitetail you might find the result to be underwhelming.  The parts of the animal you want to use for steaks (in order) are the tenderloins, back-straps and rear quarter (round steak).

The Tenderloin

The Tenderloins are located inside the gut cavity along the inside of the spine towards the rear of the animal.  This is your filet mignon.  It is also the most likely to get sliced and have urine or fecal matter dribbled on it if you are a sloppy field dresser.  I’m sure its nothing that can’t be washed off but, I like to know my food hasn’t been pissed on before eat it so I take great care when field dressing for this reason.  Personal preference I guess.

The Back-Straps

Back-Straps Start at the base of the neck and run along the back of the animal to the front of the hip.  The higher quality meat starts at the rear and slowly degrades in quality as you work your way forward.  I use this entire mu

butchering meat

scle for streak meat.

Round Steak

The hind quarters steak meat is the round steak (and sirloin) .  This is the toughest of the steak meat I have listed.  That’s because this muscle is designed for serious business (like running away as soon as you crack the car door).  What determines which part of this I turn into steak usually is based on animal size, age and gender of the animal.  Sometimes if its an old buck or bull I’ll opt to make more hamburger with the hind quarters.

You can get some great steaks from this area but it’ll be a little tougher.  This is a great area to get a roast from and is probably a better purpose for it.  Since it is a tougher area cooking it long and slow as a roast will soften it up.   A

fter butchering for a while and eventually defrosting roasts just to cut up into steaks I’ve started turning all my round steak roast directly into steaks from the beginning.

Hamburger

Hamburger is any cut of meat that is small, awkward or tough with ligaments and tendons throughout.  Make sure you exclude any traumatized meat from this pool before processing game meat.

Stew Meat

Stew meat I call everything that isn’t good enough to be steak meat but, contains few tendons or ligaments.  Stew meat isn’t just good for stews. I use it for anything that you want to serve that can be cooked long and slow and, would be a shame to use good steak meat for.  You want to reserve this for long, slow crock-pot type meals so you can cook down some of the toughness.  Game day chili is a great example.  It cooks for several hours and would be a travesty to cut up good steak meat for.

Game Processing – Now What?

Since you know where all the ‘good parts’ are, you’re almost ready to process game meat.  Now, process your own game meat in these easy steps (coming soon)

 

game meat partspreparing game meatcooking game meat

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