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Cooking Meat/Little black wild pig

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QUESTION: We have these little black short eared wild pigs here in Georgia.These are NOT boars by no means as they weigh around 80-100Lbs or so. We sent a couple to the butcher and have 2 small hams and ALOT of pork chops. They were skinned before their cooler stay. Will there be a wild taste that will need to be dealt with? And if so, how do I deal with it. I was planning to cook some in the oven and to batter fry some. This will be my first time cooking anything wild. Any information you could share would be most appreciated. Thanks)

ANSWER: It depends on how old they were whether there will be boar taint, which is hormonal and is why commercially raised pigs are castrated.

There are a number of ways to reduce the taste and smell if in fact it is in the meat.  The easiest is to brine the meat.  This does not remove it, but dilutes it by pulling some of it out and replacing it with whatever flavors you put in the brine.

There are a lot of brine recipes out on the web.  Just google pork or ham brine, or brines for ham or pork.

Note, pork is lean, batter frying them, as in deep frying, might dry out the meat some and you'll have pork jerky.

Try making cutlets, like wiener schnitzle.  Cut the meat out of the pork chop, or use slices of the loin.  Pound with a meat mallet or short piece of 2X4 on a hard surface.  I put a plastic grociery bag of it to reduce splatter or saran wrap will work or a freezer bag.  Pound it on both sides till about 1/4 or less thick.

Now you can bread it like a chicken fried steak, dredge in flour, dip in beaten egg and then bread crumbs.  You can now deep fry them or pan fry them.  I did this with turkey last year and they turned out great. Turkey cutlets for Thanksgiving.   Make some cheesy grits or your favorite potatoes.  Germans eat the cutlets with spaetzel a egg and flour dumpling, and a brown mushroom gravy.  Use a bit of chicken or beef stock or boullion and slice mushrooms. You can make this dish with or without the breading.  Just sautee the cutlets in butter, top with the gravy.  To make something unique, top with a sunny side up fried egg.  That is called Schnitzel Hollstein one of the German King's favorite dishs.  Not to be authentic, schnitzel was made with veal, but can be made with any meat you can pound thin, chicken, pork, beef and turkey, venison.  The pounding makes it tender by mechanically breaking down the tougher fibers.  They should be fork tender.

Another method is wrapp a shoulder or ham in foil and bake.  Lay it on foil, cover with chopped onion and your favorite BBQ sauce.  Wrap with heavy duty foil, with a butchers seal, hold the edges of the foil up over the meat, then fold down 3-4 times to make a steam tight seal.  Then do the same on the ends.  You might want to sear the meat to brown it on the outside first or not.  Then bake it for 2-4 hours at around 250F.  This can be on on the outside grill if you have a cover.  Sear it on the grill then wrap.  Place to one side, and don't have any coals directly under it, but bake with indirect heat covered.

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QUESTION: Hi Keith, thank you for all that information. Without your help I would have ruined this meat! What would you say to searing chops and then slow cooking in a crock pot with gravy or bullion and water? Or would I still need to take a monster mallet to it first?

ANSWER: That would be okay.  That is what we call braising.  The temp should be just below boiling like a crock pot is designed to do.  Remember the pot roasts your mother used to make?  The brown jelly like stuff you'd see on it?  Well that was gelatin, what braising converts the tough connective tissue and gristle to.  That is why its used for tough cuts of meat.

So putting it in a crock pot with a little apple juice and slow cooking would be great.  Then maybe put in some slice apples and onion.

If you want to make gravy, add liquid first, remove the meat and then thicken the juice with corn starch to make gravy.  Bullion might make it a bit salty as it reduces down.

Slow cooking will remove the need to pound it.

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QUESTION: My husband's friend told him to just fry it up like normal, Lol! WRONG!! I explained what you taught me. Since we have so much he made me just fry up a piece (after tenderizing, adding a little season-all, pepper and onion powder. The wild taste and smell was AWFUL and the onion seamed to intensify it! So we probably won't use the onion again. The texture was good though) Definitely going to brine it from now on). As you advised I have searched the web and found several methods. The key being the apple cider vinegar and kosher salt. What did concern me with what I found was that they wanted me to let it sit covered in the fridge for 4 days. I have never left uncooked meat in the fridge for over 3 days and I worry that it might spoil. I do appreciate all the help you have given me here and do not intend to harrass you with questions forver. I just want to make sure about everything. Thanks)

Answer
Don't worry about the length of time in the fridge, it will be fine.  In fact, most bacteria in meat is put there during handling during processing.  Wild meat if processed at home is probably less likely to contain harmful bacteria than that processed in a plant.

If kept refrigerated meat will last a long time. Remember there is a big difference between rot and age.  Aged meat can actually be green on the outside, and if you don't smell rot, you can slice off the or scrape off the green and it will actually be more flavorful and tender.  Thats why aged beef is so expensive, since a bit of weight in moisture is lost making it more expensive per pound.  When brining, the brine is actually inhospitable to bacteria growth.

The pink fluid that comes from meat after cooking is not blood but myoglobin or inner cellular fluid squeezed out as the protein of the muscle tissue coagulates and the meat turns from the squishy red to gray and eventually hard, well done state.

Brining replaces some of the myoglobin with the brining solution and flavors but it takes time several days.  Nature does this by trying to equalize concentrations.  Remember the membrane experiment in chemistry in Highschool?  The salt and stuff in the brine is higher concentration than the meat so the meat gives up fluid and takes in fluid to balance the concentrations.  The membrame is the cell wall of the meat.  It takes in water and plumps up the meat and hopefully loses some of the chemicals that give it the rank taste and smell.

If you decide to freeze any of it, trim off as much fat as possible first, since it gets rancid and can affect the flavor and also will transfer to other things in the freezer.

Plastic when looked under a magnifier looks like a chain link fence.  Water in liquid form cannot go through it, but in the freezer, volitities, flavors and aromas pass through with time, hence freezer burn.  This transference goes both ways and if left in a freezer long enough, everything gets a nasty funky smell and odor.  I had to clean out two freezers my parents had, and some of the packaged meat was 10 years old and believe me, it all had the same nasty funky smell and taste. It wasn't bad, just had been kept too long.  My dad raised hell when he saw me throwing it out, so I cooked some steaks up for him for dinner.  He took one smell and said he couldn't eat it.  I got a big I told you so out of it.

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Keith Patton

Expertise

I can answer questions regarding wildgame cookery ranging from venison, elk, buffalo, wild geese, duck, wild turtle, feral hog, javalena, wild boar, racoon, beaver, and woodchuck.

Experience

I am an avid hunter and chef. I have run a successful catering business, processing my own meat, curing hams and making wild game sausage.

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