The paleo diet is all the rage these days, and it’s catching on with athletes, in particular. Even U.S. soccer goalkeeper Tim Howard recently shared his paleo eating habits. My own family has been doing our own version of paleo for about three years now and we have noticed many improvements in our health.
This year we took the ancestral way of eating to a new level by adding game meat into our regular meals. Wild game quickly became one of my favorite meats to prepare and eat. Today I’ll share a bit about three of my favorite game meats: venison, dove, and rabbit.
According to the USDA, one serving of venison contains 129 calories, almost 27g of protein, and two grams of fat. Venison contains more iron, vitamin B6, niacin, and riboflavin than beef, according to Outdoor Life. Additionally, venison has a lower ratio of omega-3 to omega-6 fatty acids and a lower cholesterol content than other types of red meat. And when prepared correctly, it’s delicious.
I’ve always heard venison is difficult to cook, but I haven’t found it much harder than any other high-quality cut of meat. If you already cook grass-fed beef on a regular basis, transitioning to venison will be a breeze, since the preparation methods are similar. Here’s one of my favorite ways to prepare venison.
Easy Venison Stew
- 1-2 lbs venison, cut into cubes
- Olive oil, butter, or coconut oil
- 1 bottle dark ale
- 1 onion, chopped
- 1 celery stalk, chopped
- 6 cloves of garlic, minced
- 1/2 head of cabbage, chopped
- 1 tsp cumin
- 2 sprigs rosemary (1 tsp dried)
- 2 sprigs fresh oregano (1 tsp dried)
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Brown the venison in the oil or butter.
- Add the onion, celery, garlic, and cabbage. Saute until the vegetables are soft and translucent.
- Add the bottle of beer and water to barely cover the venison.
- Bring it to a boil, stir the meat, then decrease heat to low and cover.
- Cook for at least 3 hours or until the meat is soft.
- Add the herbs and spices about 45 minutes before it’s finished, as well as salt and pepper to taste. Serve over a bed of greens.
When it comes to reproduction, doves give rabbits a run for their money. Mourning doves are some of the most common birds in North American and can produce six broods per season in warm climates, according to Gunner’s Den. Nutritionally speaking, dove contains 33.5g of protein per 140g serving. It’s a lean, dark meat that I enjoy eating alongside a fattier meat, like bacon.
A few months ago we created a dove feast using four different preparations. My favorite method was the bacon-wrapped dove with jalapeno. We simply wrapped the dove breasts in a slice of uncooked bacon, added a slice of jalapeno, and grilled for about fifteen to twenty minutes. My second-favorite preparation was a simple recipe for dove breasts cooked in a white wine sauce and sprinkled with – you guessed it – bacon.
Rabbit is known for its high protein and low fat content. In fact, the meat is so lean that tribes used to suffer if they ate too much of it, according to the Weston A. Price Foundation:
The groups that depend on the blubber animals are the most fortunate, in the hunting way of life, for they never suffer from fat-hunger. This trouble is worst, so far as North America is concerned, among those forest Indians who depend at times on rabbits, the leanest animal in the North, and who develop the extreme fat-hunger known as rabbit-starvation. Rabbit eaters, if they have no fat from another source-beaver, moose, fish – will develop diarrhoea in about a week, with headache, lassitude and vague discomfort. If there are enough rabbits, the people eat till their stomachs are distended; but no matter how much they eat they feel unsatisfied.
That’s how lean the meat is. I’ve only prepared rabbit twice, but in my experience this description is accurate. The meat is ridiculously lean, and the best way to consume it is in a heavy stew with plenty of butter or, even better, bacon drippings. Here’s a simple recipe for a rich, hearty rabbit stew.
- 2 rabbits, about 2-3 pounds each
- 3-4 Tablespoons butter or bacon grease
- Handful of fresh thyme
- 2 sprigs fresh rosemary
- 1 teaspoon chopped fresh sage
- 1 cup red wine
- 1 onion
- 1 cup mushrooms
- 6-7 cloves garlic
- Water or broth to cover
- Brown the rabbits in oil or butter on medium-high heat.
- Add the onions, mushrooms, and garlic and cook until soft and translucent.
- Add the wine and scrape the bits off the bottom.
- Add water to cover.
- Bring the liquid to a boil, then reduce the heat and cover the pot.
- Cook for two hours until the meat comes off the bone easily.
- Remove the meat from the bone, then add it back to the remaining sauce.
- Serve over a bed of rice, drizzled with plum sauce.
Don’t forget, one of the best things about hunting for and cooking your own meat is that you can use more of the animal. Use bones and hooves to prepare gelatin-rich broth and meat stock to boost your gut health and improve joint integrity. You can even use deer tallow to make candles and homemade soaps. I haven’t tried those last two applications yet, but I feel an experiment coming on.
Do you eat game meat? What’s your favorite kind and how do you prepare it?
Photo 1 courtesy of Shutterstock.