Skip to main content

Chef Andrew Zimmern teaches us all about wild game cooking

It's going to get wild

Wild Game Kitchen tv show.
Wild Game Kitchen / The Brooks Group

Chef Andrew Zimmern, outdoorsman and renowned food media star, is a busy man. From his popular substack, Spilled Milk, to his cooking videos on Instagram, Zimmern loves sharing his expertise on all things food. Lately, one of his most passionate missions is teaching Americans all about wild foods. His latest show, Andrew Zimmern’s Wild Game Kitchen on the Outdoor Channel, showcases that mission with a hearty serving of creative and approachable outdoor-themed recipes beyond the typical crockpot and burgers.

“It’s great for enthusiasts of all skill sets, right?” Zimmern said. “It doesn’t take a lot. You can do it on an inexpensive, little kettle grill. Or you can have some big, fancy rig. It can be as simple as grilling hot dogs and hamburgers, or you can be doing whole hogs.”

And with dishes like grilled turkey legs with creamed greens and zesty lemon orzo to wild hog adovada with cilantro-lime rice and charred tomatillo salsa, the third season of Wild Game Kitchen promises delicious food along with advocating another goal — how wild foods might just be better for both health and society.

Andrew Zimmern cooking over fire.
Wild Game Kitchen / The Brooks Group

Andrew Zimmern’s advice on cooking wild foods outdoors

Consider your environment

One of Andrew Zimmern’s tips about outdoor cooking is to keep flexibility at the forefront, namely the environment, which can be the best part of outdoor cooking or the most challenging obstacle.

“Instead of just challenging all five of your senses — which regular cooking does, all cooking does — it challenges, what I call, that six sense,” explains Zimmern. “Which is — how am I managing my fire and the temperature of the air and the winds and anything else that sort of pops up? And it’s not as simple as turning down a knob to make the temperature lower or turning up a knob to make the temperature higher. Set it and forget it meals. Is your liquid going to evaporate? Is your fire gonna die and leave you with a cold, raw piece of meat?”

There’s so much variety when it comes to wild game

Another aspect of wild foods is the sheer variety. For Zimmern, one of his favorites is mushrooms, an ingredient he uses widely to add umami flavor to various dishes. Elk and venison, a healthier red meat, is another prized ingredient he prefers over beef. Finally, there are wild game birds such as duck, pheasant, pigeon, and goose, all meats Zimmern thinks should be more widely embraced throughout America. Zimmern enjoys cooking his pheasant with a cream sauce made with apple cider, currants, heavy cream, and fresh herbs, an upgrade to the standard crockpot version. But his favorite game birds might be duck and goose, both full of fat and flavor.

“Duck is so forgiving, so is goose, so is lamb for that matter,” said Zimmern. “But duck and goose — like lamb — you can cook it to medium, rare, or you can cook it well done. It’s gonna be tender both ways. There are very few foods like that, that are so forgiving.”

Andrew Zimmern holding meat.
Wild Game Kitchen / The Brooks Group

A mission of renewability and diversity

In Chef Andrew Zimmern’s opinion, outdoor cooking and wild foods aren’t just delicious fun; it’s also a way to address a serious issue — the climate crisis and factory farming.

“Food from the wild, fish from the wild, plants from the wild all help reduce our pressure on factory farm-raised foods,” explains Zimmern. “And I think that’s vitally important if we want to solve our existential climate crisis and our seemingly existential hunger and waste crisis, which is not going away, even though we can afford to do something about it, which is, to me, a criminal act.”

Finally, there’s resourcefulness and cultural diversity, aspects of wild foods that aren’t often discussed. This philosophy is a direct result of Zimmern’s extensive travels throughout his career as the host of various television shows, namely Bizarre Foods on the Travel Channel.

“Everything I’ve learned that people say, whoa, that’s cool, I learned from someone’s grandma in some faraway place,” explains Zimmern. “And that really is the truth. I learned how to be more resourceful and how to be greener in my home, recycle everything, and waste nothing by living with tribal people where nothing is wasted or thrown out. And it’s why, when I am hunting, to bring it back full circle.”

Sweet & Sour Braised Pigeon


  • 3 squab or pigeon, cut into light and dark quarters
  • 5 tablespoons olive oil
  • 4 ounces sliced pancetta, minced
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 2 carrots diced
  • 1 tablespoon fennel seeds, toasted and crushed
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 1/2 cups pitted green olives (such as Lucques or Ceragnola)
  • 1 whole dried hot chile (such as arbol chiles)
  • 3/4 cup sweet red vermouth
  • 3/4 cup dessert wine (such as a muscat, Riesling or sauternes)
  • 3 tablespoons Banyuls or sherry vinegar
  • 1 cup crushed San Marzano tomatoes


  1. Working in batches, season and brown the pigeon in the olive oil over medium heat in a large cast iron skillet. Reserve.
  2. In a large Dutch oven, cook the pancetta until lightly browned. Add the onion, carrots, fennel seed, bay leaves, olives, and the chile. Cook until softened.
  3. Add the vermouth, wine vinegar, and tomatoes. Gently simmer for 15 minutes or so, stirring.
  4. Add the browned pigeon pieces to the pot. Simmer, uncovered, for 20-30 minutes until meat is tender and liquids have reduced.
  5. Season with salt, pepper, and some more vinegar for balance and serve.
Hunter Lu
Hunter Lu is a New York-based food and features writer, editor, and NYU graduate. His fiction has appeared in The Line…
How to make your own hot honey at home (so you can add it to your food and drinks)
The possibilities are endless on how you can use hot honey
Hot honey on meat

The combination of "spicy" and "sweet" holds a lauded position in many international cuisines, with chefs and diners celebrating the way these seemingly contradictory flavors complement each other. From General Tso’s chicken to Mexican chocolate, the popularity of spicy-sweet foods shows no signs of dying down, much to the delight of this writer, a self-proclaimed lover of heat.

In recent years, a condiment that perfectly encapsulates the spicy and sweet appeal has carved out a major niche for itself, and its name is "hot honey." Companies like Mike’s Hot Honey and Bushwich Kitchen (Bees Knees Spicy Honey) successfully sell pre-made versions of this treat, but it’s surprisingly easy to make at home, and we’re here to guide you through the process.   
What is hot honey?

Read more
What to know about Hanwoo, the Wagyu beef of Korea
Find out how this is different from Wagyu and if you can get your hands on it
Hanwoo beef

In South Korea, there’s a native breed of cattle that connoisseurs say rivals the best Japanese Wagyu beef. Known as Hanwoo, this beef is one of the most prized items in Korean cuisine and enjoyed either for celebratory dinners or given as luxurious gifts during Lunar New Year or Chuseok (Korean Thanksgiving).
What is Hanwoo beef?

Although often described as the Wagyu of Korea, the reality is that the Hanwoo breed predates all Japanese cattle. Cows first arrived in Japan from the Asian mainland over 2,000 years ago, with many of these first-generation cattle hailing from the Korean peninsula. Between 1868 and 1910, Korean genetics were also infused into cattle raised in the Japanese prefectures of Kumamoto and Kochi. In fact, Red Wagyu/Akasuhi cattle bear a strong physical resemblance to the Hanwoo breed.

Read more
The best fried chicken recipe you will ever make
This is simply the best, and you can stop looking for this recipe now
Eating fried chicken

As you know, we love all things fried chicken. It’s the ultimate comfort food no matter the day of the week, no matter the weather. We just can’t get enough of that golden brown and delicious chicken. Keep reading, and you'll find the best fried chicken recipe ... hands down.
The history of fried chicken

Europeans were the first to fry up chicken during the Middle Ages. Fried chicken was considered an expensive delicacy until after World War II and was only served for special occasions. Scottish immigrants were the ones who introduced fried chicken to the U.S., but they didn’t use any seasonings until West Africans added spice blends into the recipe. Since then, it has been a staple in Southern cooking.

Read more