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Thread: Caribou Cooking

  1. #1
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    Default Caribou Cooking

    After making plenty of trips up the Haul Rd to try with the bow and some close calls and a few misses I finally got my first caribou last Saturday. It was quite the journey. Almost 15 miles on the 4 wheeler and seeing the signs of alot of successful hunters along the way, we finally spotted a small group about 200 yards off of the trail. I will admit I biffed my first shot but I made my follow up shot count and put a nice sized cow down in its tracks. It was a clean upper neck shot that did not ruin any meat. I have let deer sit over night during early archery seasons (+/- 40 degrees) and had no issues with spoilage so we desided not to gut it for the haul back to the parking area. I also did this to avoid having the exhaust from the wheeler blowing into the cavity during the 1.5 hour ride back. I gutted it at the trail head and it was an hour and a half ride to the house. I skinned and quartered it in the garage and I let the meat sit over night in a cooler outside. The meat did not freeze but cooled nicely and Sunday we finished butchering and vaccuum sealing it. Tonight we cooked some of the back straps just like we have made wild boar and deer before, a real family favorite. I dont soak the meat in salt water or milk, we dont mind the taste of wild game. Wow it was gamey as all get out almost over the top. Some of the meat did have a heavy game smell while butchering and most had that clean meat smell. I refuse to take the easy way out and grind it all into sausage and am wondering if anyone has tips on cooking or ways that worked for them.

    In a perfect world I would of liked to let the meat hang for a day or so but I dont have the space and I didnt want to take the chance of it freezing outside.

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    I realize I should have put this post in the meat care forum but I am still getting the hang of posting.

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    Member mossyhorn's Avatar
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    You shouldn't have to mask the flavor of good caribou. If it's good, it's GOOOOD! I've killed a number of bou up here in my short time in AK. Three that were post-rut very end of October to 1st of November, they were great tasting. Two from the Brooks during August that were amazing and an archery haul road August bou that tasted like crap.

    I've found though with bou, if you over cook it at all it'll go from tasting great to tasting like liver. It's gotta be pink inside.

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    Member hodgeman's Avatar
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    Since you shot a cow then rutty meat isn't an issue but in January it shouldn't be an issue with a bull either.

    Heavy gamey taste is sometimes attributed to stomach contents making contact with meat and personally I would have gutted it in the field. Did you rupture a something aft in the process?

    You might try a crock pot and see how that works... I've eaten a lot of caribou and never had one have a heavy gamey flavor.
    "I do not deal in hypotheticals. The world, as it is, is vexing enough..." Col. Stonehill, True Grit

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    What many consider a "gamey taste" is actually the mineral taste of blood left in the meat. By not dressing it on site or at least gutting it the blood settled into the meat. If I were you I would rethink your no salt water or milk thing. Take your steaks and soak them 24 hrs in buttermilk, change it out if it becomes too pink as it draws out the blood. After 24 hours dry it off and give it a light coat of oil, and coat in your favorite dry rub, use a little salt to draw the spices into the meat and a little brown sugar to get some caramelization. Wrap in plastic wrap and leave in frig for a couple days.

    When ready to cook, sear in a cast iron pan using high heat or grill. DO NOT OVER COOK, cook no more than medium. It is critical to let the meat rest after cooking for 10 minutes or the juices will all run out and it will be dry.







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    Default Caribou Cooking

    In my opinion you should have not let the meat sit in the cooler over night and should have let the meat hang. In cool place. There is only one reason for gamey taste in jan..
    Do I give my friends advice? Jesus, no. They wouldn't take advice from me. Nobody should take advice from me. I haven't got a clue about anything..

  7. #7

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    I compared my personal game processing (white-tail) against how you did it. No gut in field, transport out whole, yours took 1.5 hours and mine usually 15 minutes, so far they are close. You gutted and drove another 1.5 hours, skinned, quartered and placed in cooler to cool. I hang it butt high, skin, gut then let hang for another 8-36 hours, whole. Sometime it will freeze a bit and my fingers suffer but all the heat has dissipated. I am probably too meticulous with trimming, removing silver skin, tendon and the fat (dislike any tallow feel) and never ever leave bone on or cut through a bone (marrow transfer and bone dust, yuck). We both vacuum seal and freeze. I leave steaks, roasts, tenderloin in large pieces and later cook whole, then slice into serving sizes. Grinding the rest.

    Like Stid mentioned, blood might be the culprit. I might add, heat contributed to spoiling the blood somewhat before getting thoroughly chilled. Did you dump all the cuts into a cooler? If so they did not cool evenly and that maybe where the off taste came from, minor blood spoilage.

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    Stid, wow 6:30 am and those pics make me want to cook up some bou for breakfast!!

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    Quote Originally Posted by nuskovich View Post
    I might add, heat contributed to spoiling the blood somewhat before getting thoroughly chilled. Did you dump all the cuts into a cooler? If so they did not cool evenly and that maybe where the off taste came from, minor blood spoilage.
    I will add that I agree that by leaving the hide on you prevented heat from escaping and by leaving the guts in you allowed heat from the inside. Both will cause the meat to degrade quickly. Even in very cold temps a caribou's hollow hair will hold in heat, and heat is the enemy of a quality finished product.
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    The first caribou I ever ate was on Adak over thirty years ago. The first stuff from a welcome to the island group was pretty good. I could tell it was not alfalfa fed mule deer and had a mild hint of "tundra", but it was not too bad. The next meat was taken by someone that had never processed game before. In his previous life he shot coastal blacktails and dropped them whole but gutted at the butcher's on the way home. Back packing a 500 pound caribou off the tundra and no butcher within 1200 miles turned what could have been good meat into a pile of dog food. It was late August and sat with the hide on for two days after being gutted. This was before the eagles started targeting gut piles in force.

    Glenn (Glenn's Game Processing) has told me that caribou, in his experience, do not improve with aging like moose and beef do. However, most of my caribou spend about three days hanging bagged on the bone in the field. It gets bled out while being gutted and being broken down into quarters and the spine (best way to get quality on the bone rib eye and loin steaks).

    This years bull was a touch "gamey" due to him probably getting a little rutty being late September and he was one of the bigger bulls in the group. He was not herding the cows around and was tolerent of the five or six other bulls hanging around. He might be gamey due to his age or being a huge bull getting ready to make little caribou. Whatever the case he cooks up fine as long as I don't push the cooking past medium and keep some pink in the steaks. I did turn most of him into various sausage products because that is just my prefered caribou eats. Glenn's chorizo is the bomb. And mild breakfast sausage makes great hambergers, chili meat, umm breakfast sausage, etc.

    Given that the OP took a cow and it turned into junk meat makes me agree with the "bad blood" opion of others from how it was handled in the field and after.

  11. #11

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    All of the advice about field care given above by Steve and others is spot on, but there is nothing you can do about it now. It will be a little bit of a hassle and additional cost at this point, but if you don't feel like you will eat the meat as is, you might consider further processing it into hotdogs, snack sticks, or salami. You could do it yourself if you are so inclined, or take it to one of the more reputable game processors. The gamey taste may still persist, but it should be a lot more palatable than it sounds like it is now.

    I like caribou, but find that I prefer the natural taste of moose, goat, deer and sheep over that of bou, at least as steaks and ground meat. Caribou makes exceptional cured sausage, and so that is what we do with most of the caribou we bring home. Jalapeņo cheese hotdogs, summer sausage and pepperoni sticks add some nice variety to our freezer and we are always out by the time hunting season rolls around.

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    Member mossyhorn's Avatar
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    Stid, could we get some recipes! Those plates of food look amazing!

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    Quote Originally Posted by mossyhorn View Post
    Stid, could we get some recipes! Those plates of food look amazing!
    Most of the above was prepared as described in the text above the photos. Have a look at the "Whats for Dinner" thread, I have posted many recipes there.

    Treat it like food from trigger pull to fork and there is nothing finer than game meat.
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    Quote Originally Posted by stid2677 View Post
    Treat it like food from trigger pull to fork and there is nothing finer than game meat.
    Amen to that!

    One of the best things I ever did was attend a seminar on field care of game meat by Larry Bartlett. Informative and eye-opening and I've gotta say it changed how I handle meat in the field substantially. I believe the video he showed is still availble- "Project Bloodtrail" or something like that.
    "I do not deal in hypotheticals. The world, as it is, is vexing enough..." Col. Stonehill, True Grit

  15. #15

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    Rather then tossing it or making friends accept your "gift" it can be ground, spiced and dried with a jesrky shooter kit. That stuff never sits around.

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    Quote Originally Posted by nuskovich View Post
    Rather then tossing it or making friends accept your "gift" it can be ground, spiced and dried with a jesrky shooter kit. That stuff never sits around.
    Yes Sir, I have never thrown out any jerky.

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    Seeing as it was neck shot it's possible it did not bleed out from the wound (correct me if wrong) and then likely the throat was not cut to get as much blood out as possible.....add in the guts being left inside and retaining heat in a well insulated animal I'd guess you have that livery minerally taste that happens when the things listed above happen, especially with each other.

    But, I'm 50 50 on caribou anyway, it can definitely taste livery more than other game meats I've had.

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    Member logman 49's Avatar
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    Some wise words from STID "Treat it like food from trigger pull to fork and there is nothing finer than game meat."

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    Stid, you make me want to put some venison kabobs on the grill. Thanks

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    I've only had the pleasure of eating from 2 caribou. One my son shot, and one I shot on the same fly-in DIY trip, in 2010. Both animals were field quartered where they layed, soon after they were shot. Washed in the Middle Fork 40-Mile River, sprayed with citric acid, and then hung in TAG bags. When we flew back in to Tok, all bags were put in a freezer, and hauled back to Kansas. All the bags were then thawed out and then cut or ground up and packaged for the freezer. It was some of the best hoofed wild game meat I have ever eaten.

    After nearly 37 years of butchering my own wild game meat, I have learned a lot from trial and error. I now quarter all my big game out right where they lay as soon as I can. I carry my knives with me in a pack, along with a come-a-long and rope. I don't gut them, I just skin them down and remove each leg quarter and back straps, neck meat, rib meat, ect. I then wash each quarter down with a hose and spray nozzle, to get any foreign material off, and let hang for a few days.

    I have found that the key to good wild game is to immediately cool and let the blood drain. As others have stated, not allowing for this these two things, is undoubtebly the reason for the strong flavor in any wild game meat. Knute

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