As milder weather creeps in on these first few days of spring, we’re dreaming of firing up our grills for the season and all the perfect char marks we’re going to get on meat, fish, and veggies. While we always love a juicy steak or burger that’s grilled to perfection, we’re looking to expand our meat skills this year and get some new types of animal protein on the grill. So we turned to chef Mike DeCamp of the newly opened P.S. Steak in Minneapolis. Not only does his menu boast favorites like rib eyes and short ribs, but he dedicates a section to lesser-used meats like boar and pheasant. He gives advice on how to season and cook four types of meats that aren’t beef so you can up your grilling game this year and impress any and everyone.
Wild boar is so overpopulated in the United States, especially in southern states, that you’re actually doing the environment a favor when you cook this succulent meat. Boar is a hearty meat, so it can take a lot of seasoning because it won’t overpower the flavor of the flesh. DeCamp suggests seasoning it with salt, pepper, and paprika. If you want to give it some Italian flair, marinate the meat in olive oil, red wine, crushed garlic, and thyme overnight. When cooking boar, DeCamp suggests caramelizing it over direct heat to start, then finishing it slower by using indirect heat until it hits medium. To serve, DeCamp makes an agrodolce (basically a sweet and sour sauce) with bacon and sherry vinegar and serves the meat alongside creamy polenta and braised peppers.
Venison is another great meat to get on the grill. If you happen to find some deer ribs, we love brining them for 24 hours before grilling them to perfection. But if you get ahold of venison steaks, DeCamp suggests seasoning them with salt, pepper, and curry powder to give them an extra kick. He grills them over direct heat until the steaks are medium-rare, or 115-120 degrees Fahrenheit. To serve, DeCamp loves plating any kind of venison meat with hearty greens (think Swiss chard, collards, and spinach) and root vegetables, which makes for a wonderfully-grilled meal come late summer and early fall.
If you’ve never tried elk, this season is the perfect time to get this wonderful game meat on your grill. If you or your guests aren’t used to game, DeCamp suggests soaking the meat in milk to give it a milder flavor. From there, all it needs is salt and pepper to let its natural characters shine. Elk cooks a lot like beef, so it’s a good meat to experiment with if you’ve never grilled game meat before. But it is easy to overcook, so be sure to watch it carefully. DeCamp suggests caramelizing it over direct heat first, then choosing your own adventure from there — you could either finish it over direct heat or indirect heat until it reaches a medium doneness. He serves it dressed with fennel and bagna cauda, which is a delicious garlic and anchovy sauce that will make grilled elk taste simply irresistible.
You’ve likely had bison before, and it’s a wonderful grilling meat, whether you get your hands on some steaks or burgers. Just like beef, all bison really needs it a hearty sprinkling of salt and pepper so it forms a crisp, flavorful crust. Because bison is lean, DeCamp says to leave as much of the fat on as possible before cooking. Bison should be cooked over direct heat, but you could even add some smoke chips to give it a rich, barbecued flavor. Medium works well for this type of meat, but feel free to prepare it to the doneness that you desire. Because bison is so lean, DeCamp likes serving it with a richer sauce — like an aioli or bernaise — to give it a craveable, fatty, tangy goodness.