There are plenty of ways to cook wild game, from browning and broiling venison to braising a pheasant’s chunky joint in chicken stock. Unfortunately, game meat often gets a bad reputation for its dry, tough texture if poorly cooked. Using an Instant Pot to cook game allows you to preserve its distinctive taste, while the Pot’s high pressure tenderizes potentially chewy and sinewy joints.
What Exactly Is an Instant Pot?
An Instant Pot is an electric pressure cooker that serves several purposes in your kitchen. This appliance retains the steam from the boiling water within the pot. The build-up of steam causes the internal pressure to increase, breaking down proteins, connective tissue and other tough parts on your cut of meat faster than standard cooking methods.
Instant Pots can also double as rice cookers, steamers and slow cookers, helping you cut down drastically on the time you spend preparing meals for the week ahead. You can even find a yogurt preset on the Instant Pot that allows you to make healthy Greek-style yogurt in under an hour.
The Instant Pot’s high-pressure function is ideal for cooking wild game: You can produce delicious roasted venison and lush braised rabbit in a matter of hours.
Different Ways to Cook Wild Game with an Instant Pot
You’ll find there are many ways of cooking wild game in an Instant Pot, from pan-frying through to braising in a thick, meaty stock sauce.
Pot roast is a classic American recipe that usually takes about 3-4 hours in a low oven, depending on the roast’s size. In the Instant Pot, you can get a beautifully tender venison pot roast in under two hours.
Set your Instant Pot to sauté for 10 minutes, and drop in about a tablespoon of oil. Rub a venison shoulder with your favorite dry rub and, once the oil is hot, sear the outside of the cut until browned. Add in spices of your choice—herbes de Provence, thyme or oregano are always good choices—and pour in 1.5 cups of dry red wine, 2 tablespoons of red vinegar and salt and pepper to taste.
Put the lid on and set it to cook on high pressure for 60 minutes. While waiting, chop up your favorite vegetables for roasting. Let it naturally release pressure for 10 minutes before manual releasing and opening the pot.
Add in your vegetables, stirring to combine, and cook it at high pressure for about another 10 minutes. Once it’s done, do a manual release immediately, remove your vegetables and shred your tender meat.
If you want to thicken up your gravy, pour the liquid back into the pot and add a cold mixture of flour and water. Whisk it and sauté for around five minutes or until it thickens.
Sautéing and Pan-Frying
The Instant Pot’s sauté function is effective for getting a flavorful caramelized crust on your meat. Some models even have multiple temperature presets so you can choose the level of browning you want. However, as most game meat is naturally low in fat, it can dry out if overcooked on this function.
Choosing the right cut of meat, like venison backstrap and pheasant or duck breast, and using the high temperature setting on the sauté function ensure flavorsome, juicy results.
You can also use the Instant Pot’s sauté mode to increase the thickness of your sauce. If you’ve accidentally thinned out your stew or ragu by adding too much water, just switch on this function, and the pan’s base quickly heats up, causing this excess liquid to evaporate.
When you broil your wild game, you get meat with a char-grilled flavor reminiscent of barbecued foods. Season your cut of venison or rabbit first, and then marinate it in a sweet or spicy sauce. For sweet sauces, add smoked paprika to maple syrup and water. If you like heat, combine sriracha, hot sauce and water. Let the meat marinate for several hours before cooking.
Switch on your cooker’s sauté function and heat a tablespoon of vegetable oil in the unit’s pan. After this, you can brown your seasoned, marinated cut of meat for several minutes before adding stock. Set the pressure cooker to 20 minutes on high, and manually release after it finishes for a beautiful piece of meat.
An Instant Pot’s searing function is often interchangeable with the sauté preset. Both modes turn your cooker into the equivalent of a heated frying pan. To get a good sear on your wild game cuts in the Instant Pot, use oil with a high smoke point, such as sesame, peanut, avocado, groundnut, sunflower or almond oil. These oils withstand higher temperatures than other options, so you won’t have to worry about your food tasting burned or excessively smoky.
Instant Pots are ideal for braising delicious pieces of wild game. If you have a fatty or marbled joint of venison or pheasant, cut it into smaller chunks and blanch the meat in the cooker. After cooking the game for 10 minutes, drain the water and the meat’s excess liquid, keeping some aside to use as stock later on.
You can then switch to the sauté function on your Instant Pot, pan-frying tasty herbs before adding the meat and some blanching liquid to the cooker. Change the Pot to its high pressure mode and cook for between 40-60 minutes, depending on what meat you’re using.
Which Types of Wild Game Are the Best to Cook with an Instant Pot?
The more you use your Instant Pot, the more you’ll realize certain types of wild game are perfectly suited to this style of cooking.
Venison is suitable for most wild game recipes. Venison is one of the tastiest and leanest meats, and you can use your Instant Pot to whip up a delicious venison stew in under 30 minutes. Just brown the meat, sauté some vegetables, and then deglaze with wine or tasty, thick stock. After that, use the high pressure function to cook your stew for 15-20 minutes, and you’ll be ready to serve up a satisfying meal for friends and family.
Much like venison, duck has a distinctive flavor more akin to red meat than poultry. You can use your Instant Pot to create a juicy roasted duck in under an hour, or you can make a delicious duck confit by searing the meat in your cooker. This process brings out excess fat from the meat, meaning you don’t have to add any extra liquid when you turn on the high pressure function to cook the duck. Just make sure before cooking that you cure the duck legs for a day in the fridge, with salt and other seasonings to draw out moisture, making the meat more tender and bringing out the flavor.
Pheasant tastes more flavorful and gamey than chicken or turkey, and you’ll find there are plenty of ways to cook this meat in an Instant Pot. You can shred the cut into smaller pieces and sauté these chunks in the pot before using the pressure function to cook the meat through. You can dip the pheasant pieces in an egg and flour mixture, and then brown them in the pot before adding stock and switching to the slow-cooking function. At the end of the cooking time, whisk butter into the remaining stock to create a rich, decadent sauce.
The Final Word
Wild birds and animals are far leaner than domesticated variants, and this is reflected in the characterful and strong taste of wild game meat. When you cook this type of meat, you want to make sure you’re preserving these vibrant, bold flavors. Using an Instant Pot to sear, sauté, broil or slow cook wild game is an ideal way to retain the meat’s taste while ensuring tender results.
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