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How To Make Delicious Venison Using An Instant Pot

Instant Pots have quickly become another ubiquitous kitchen appliance. But is it worth the investment for those looking to cook their venison or other wild game?

How To Make Delicious Venison Using An Instant Pot
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Instant Pots, alongside air fryers, have quickly become another ubiquitous kitchen appliance. I suspect, on most kitchen counters, real estate is becoming scarce. But what is an instant pot, exactly? And is it worth the investment for those looking to cook their venison or other wild game?

An instant pot boasts multiple functions but at its core it can serve as either a slow cooker or a pressure cooker. With most models, you can make everything from yogurt to soups to spaghetti to roasted neck of venison. You cannot fry or grill foods. It won’t bake for you either, but as far as compact kitchen appliances go, it is pretty versatile.

THE AUTOMATED PRESSURE COOKER

This is where I think the real value lies in an instant pot. Anyone who has ever worked with a manual pressure cooker or pressure canner knows it’s a bit of a process and can be dangerous if you don’t maintain your equipment and follow the proper steps. I know folks who, several years ago, were burned from the hot steam of a pressure cooker when removing the lid early. With instant pots, as a result of a few features, the entire process should remain safe, void of a burn risk. The process of pressure cooking is all automated and very simple. No needing to babysit the pressure valve, like I have to do when canning meats with my pressure canner.

HOW A PRESSURE COOKER HELPS COOK VENISON

As pressure inside an instant pot rises, liquids convert to steam and the overall temperature rises. The combination of steam, high pressure, and high heat cooks venison quicker, sometimes in a quarter the amount of time it may have taken with other cooking methods. Because the cooking environment is sealed and constantly surrounded by steam (assuming you added enough liquids), we don’t have to worry about our lean wild game drying out during cooking.

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For your tougher cuts of game, this is an invaluable function. Think front-quarter roasts, bone-in shanks, bone-in neck roasts; or you can even consider your other collagen-riddled bits of wild game such as wild-turkey legs, the wings from a Canada goose, or the trim from a feral pig.

SHOULD YOU SEAR YOUR GAME BEFORE USING AN INSTANT POT

Searing or browning meat caramelizes the exterior of meat and initiates what is called the Maillard reaction, which is a chemical reaction between amino acids and reducing sugars that deepens the flavor of meat. While most instant pots offer a sear function that will maintain a base temperature of 400 degrees Fahrenheit (a great searing temp), the pot is still a pot with walls that circulate steam as you sear, versus that steam escaping as it would in a shallow skillet.

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What this does: Steam both softens the crust (not a major deal if you’re going to pressure cook anyways), but also inhibits the Maillard reaction. My recommendation: If you’re serious about browning meat ahead of using an instant pot, do so in a separate, preferably cast-iron skillet, then transfer your game to the instant pot and go from there.

GENERAL TIPS FOR COOKING TOUGH WILD GAME CUTS

    • Use the high-pressure function after browning meat. Remember to season meat an hour (minimum) ahead of searing.
    • Allocate 30 minutes per pound of meat. For tougher, more stubborn cuts (think the neck off a buck killed during the rut), shoot for 40 minutes per pound of meat.
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  • Add ample liquids and don’t use water. Most instructions call for at least a cup of water. Use beef or chicken stock or some other flavorful liquid instead of water. Add 1 cup per hour of cooking time. This liquid is IN ADDITION to any sauces you might add (like marinara or tikka masala).
  • Try to trim as much silver skin and fascia from game before adding to pot. These bits can imbue adverse flavors into the final product.

TIPS FOR MAKING WILD GAME PASTA IN AN INSTANT POT

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  • Don’t use cream sauces as dairy will curdle.
  • Pressure basically bakes the sauce into the pasta, which is very cool, but make sure you double the liquids you would normally include in addition to sauce.
  • Add 50% more sauce than you normally would.
  • Try to make sure pasta is completely covered by liquids in pot. This may mean breaking spaghetti in half or into quarters.
  • Opt for high pressure: 8 minutes for al dente spaghetti, 10 minutes for softer spaghetti. If you’re making thicker pasta, like penne, add 2 minutes to the aforementioned times.
  • Consider a bit of freshly minced garlic, perhaps some fresh basil or oregano, and half a cup of red wine to red sauces to up the flavor of store-bought sauces.
  • Add the cheese when plating, not while the pasta cooks in the instant pot.

SUMMARY

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As far as countertop appliances go, I would say an instant pot may indeed be a worthy investment for some folks with a good sum of wild game in the freezer. When choosing a model, I would suggest getting the largest you can afford with the most functions. An instant pot can serve as both a slow cooker and a pressure cooker, so you’ve just eliminated two roosters with one trigger pill. But where does it rank, in my opinion, compared to other “Must-Have Countertop Appliances for Hunter Cooks”? See below:

  1. Coffee maker
  2. Food processor (or blender, though not always interchangeable)
  3. Dehydrator
  4. Sous vide
  5. Instant pot
  6. Slower cooker (if you don’t have an instant pot)
  7. Microwave oven
  8. Air fryer
  9. Toaster
  10. Stand mixer

Need more insight or have thoughts? Disagree with my rankings above? Reach out to me on Instagram (@WildGameJack) with any questions or comments




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