By Mark Fike
Each holiday our family gets asked to bring a wild game roast no matter whose house we are going to. I started wondering if it was because the roast actually tastes that good or if it is because everyone knows we only have wild game in our freezer.
So, I asked why everyone wants us to bring a wild game roast each holiday. The answers were all revolving around the flavor and how tender the meat was with very little fat or gristle to deal with. I get asked all the time how we prepare our roasts and am rather surprised by this as the prep is so simple.
The first thing we do is trim off all tendons and ligaments that we can when prepping our meat for the freezer. Yes, I said the freezer. I don’t like to leave fat or gristle on the roast as sometimes that fat can taint the meat. I do, however, leave on the outer layer of silver skin, a thin, clear skin-like layer. This silver skin protects the meat from drying out.
We put our roasts in a slow cooker for at least 14 hours and most often close to 20 hours. Our temperature setting is on LOW the entire time. It is important not to put the meat on high for more than an hour or two. This destroys the chance for a tender, fall apart, texture.
I also make a point to put in at least two full cups of water—at least 16 ounces and often more. This helps keep the meat from drying out and getting tough.
Another tip I offer is to add in your vegetables at lunch the day you are eating the roast. Don’t put them in any earlier, except for onion, garlic or any other herbs that you want for seasoning purposes. Carrots and potatoes will turn to mush if you put them in too early. You can put in thinly sliced veggies an hour or two before eating though if you don’t get home for lunch.
When you season your wild game, use something you have used before or tried on other game. And, use liberally. Make sure the entire piece of meat is seasoned and if there are exposed cuts in your roast, season those areas well. Some people will make incisions in the meat so the seasoning can get inside. That will work but as long as you are cooking the meat, it will cook into the meat anyway.
For smaller roasts or cuts, you can put the meat in the slow cooker early in the morning. You can also put the meat in a sealable plastic bag and marinate it in your favorite seasons if you want. I don’t bother with that, but for those that like experimenting, it can add some additional creative flavor.
One thing I would confess that may help some readers is that this method of cooking is for lazy and forgetful people too. I often forget to lay out the roast from the freezer in time to cook it. No worries! I bet 95% of my roasts are placed in the slow cooker frozen! They cook just fine. You just cannot do that the morning of if the roast is big enough to feed four and expect it to be completely fall apart tender. If you remember to put it in the night before, even late at night, it will turn out great.
So, put your wild game roast on the night before, put in plenty of water and seasonings, and leave the lid on for a great texture and taste. Your roast will be tender enough to pull apart with your fork, no knife needed.
PS—This method works well on ALL cuts of meat. Store-bought beef, pork, wild game like squirrels (use just 6 hours for small pieces of meat), goose or rabbit legs.