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Cooking Bear Meat – tips and suggestions

Cooking Bear Meat – tips and suggestions

Hunting for meat is one of the most important things we do as homesteaders. Bear is a hardy red meat that can be used in any recipe you’d normally use for beef. Cooking bear meat has a learning curve but in general is a lot like cooking beef. I’ll be explaining a lot of how we hunt bear and all the work that goes into this for the month prior to opening day.

Tips for Cooking Bear Meat

Bears can carry the parasites that cause trichinosis and toxoplasmosis, the same problems you might encounter with pork. You must cook the meat properly just as you do pork.

  • Over cooking bear meat isn’t better than cooking it correctly. Well done doesn’t mean burnt or dry.
  • The internal temperature of the cooked meat must reach 160° and stay there for a minimum of three minutes.
  • No pink meat or pink juice dripping from the meat.
  • Bones absorb heat and slow the cooking process so check the meat around the bone before you serve.

A good rule of thumb as told to me by Erin Merrill (who also shot a bear in 2014) makes it easy to remember – season like beef, cook like pork. My bear was a lot smaller than her 457 pound boar and she graciously shared a roast with me. We’ll cook that this winter.

Bear meat is very dark, darker than most any other meat. It’s important to remove as much fat as possible during butchering but there will still be some attached to the meat. I removed the fat around the edges to help keep the flavor good.

cooking bear meat, bear chopsChoose your favorite seasoning for red meat.
season bear chops, I sauteed onions and garlic in butter and then placed the chop on top. The onions and garlic will caramelize. cooking bear meat, cooking bear chopsTest the meat for pinkness at the bone. If necessary, turn the heat off and let the residual heat in the cast iron finish cooking bear meat.

Cooking bear meat isn’t hard! I’d love to have you share your recipes with us! Here’s Tenley’s recipe for Bear Stew.




Bear Stew Recipe – Cooking Wild Game

Bear Stew Recipe – Cooking Wild Game

Bear Stew Recipe

(Works well with beef or other red meats.)  Bear hunting season’s work started last Saturday. I’ll be writing about what we do with the bears, why we do it, and how we use the meat. I want to be sure you all understand that we use the meat. This is not “trophy” hunting, though I don’t begrudge anyone a trophy as long as they’re using the meat. I have a trophy bear on the living room wall, and I’ll tell you about him soon. Let’s start off the bear season with Tenley’s bear stew recipe. I have tips and suggestions for cooking bear meat here in the blog.bear stew recipe

Dutch Oven, Slow Cooker or Oven

Bear stew is a great way to start cooking bear meat. You won’t dry out the meat even if you over cook. Thanks to Tenley Skolfield and Fish River Lodge for the photo. I use a cast iron Dutch oven for bear stew. If I’m home I set it on the back corner of the wood stove and let it simmer a while, otherwise it’s in the oven or on the simmer burner on the propane stove.

Bear Stew

3 pounds bear stew meat
3 Tablespoons bacon fat
1/2 C flour

Coat the meat with flour and brown in bacon fat in the Dutch oven, or in a fry pan if you’re using a slow cooker. Remove meat and set aside. For a slow cooker, transfer the drippings from the pan into the cooker after you finish sauteing the ingredients.

1 onion, chopped
1 pound carrots
4-5 large potatoes
3 stalks of celery

Wash and cut carrots, potatoes and celery into bite size pieces. Saute onion, carrots, potatoes and celery in the bacon fat. When the onions caramelize or the bottom of the Dutch oven is coated, deglaze with the wine. NOTE: Room temp red wine. Cold liquid can crack cast iron. It’s rare but it happens.

Beef stock, enough to cover all ingredients by two inches
2 cups frozen peas
1 jar stewed tomatoes
2-3 bay leaves
Italian seasoning to taste


Simmer until the potatoes and carrots are almost cooked. Remove the Dutch oven from the heat, and then allow the stew to set for 30 minutes while it finishes cooking. If you’d like a thicker stew you can make a roux with equal parts butter and flour. Cook the roux for five minutes, stirring constantly, to eliminate the flour taste. Stir a little roux at a time into the stew. It will take up to 15 minutes to finish thickening.

Any recipe you have for beef stew will work with bear meat. Be sure to cook bear meat thoroughly.





Pickled Venison Heart

Pickled Venison Heart

Pickled Venison Heart

Never did I imagine pickled venison heart would be the number one entry in the old blog. Number one. It has 50% more page views than the second place post. It’s one of the posts that must be moved here. Hunting is one of the methods used by homesteaders to provide meat. partnerships

I knew I wasn't going to like venison heart but I was determined to try it. Waste not, want not.Click To Tweet

Pickled Venison Heart Recipe – Cooking Wild Game

pickled-deer-heartI knew I wasn’t going to like venison heart but I was determined to try it. Waste not, want not. I’ve been looking at recipes. Pickled venison heart? mmm…no thanks. I love cooking wild game and seldom try anything I don’t like, but this might be the exception. I didn’t expect to like heart at all but the first recipe I tried today was fantastic.

Peter did an excellent job of cleaning the deer heart for me after also field dressing the deer for me. I didn’t have to do anything more than wash it again. I cooked three-quarters of it one way and a quarter has been pickled. Yes. Pickled. I did it.

Did you just crinkle up your nose? Ya…So did I. Pickled heart? I think I’m going to like it.

Pickled Venison Heart Recipe

The venison heart I pickled was sliced one-eighth inch thin. Simmer a few minutes in water. Remove from water and cool. (I saved the water to add to the dogs’ supper.) I used about a cup of heart so there will be only two jelly jars of pickled meat.

Put 1/2 cup of thinly sliced venison heart in each jelly jar.
1/2 tsp seasoned salt (I used Lowry’s)
1 tsp pickling spices
1 pinch of garlic powder or a dab of freshly chopped garlic

Mix a brine:
1 part water to 2 parts cider vinegar. If that seems strong to you, mix it 50/50%.

Fill the jars with brine to 1/4″ from the top and close snugly. jars and store in the refrigerator. I’ll try it in a week or so. I meant to put a little onion in but forgot. I’ll do that next time.

pickled venison heart, pickled deer heart, pickled heart


Swedish Meatballs, Moose Style

Swedish Meatballs, Moose Style

Swedish Meatballs

In my early adulthood, while we were terribly busy running the rat race, I discovered frozen Swedish meatballs. Slip those delicious, or so I thought at the time, meatballs into microwave, wait impatiently for three minutes and ding! Supper time! It wasn’t until we left our jobs to move out here that I learned to make Swedish meatballs. We lack big, well-stocked grocery stores here. The largest, best-stocked grocery is 50 miles away. The store only 30 miles from home sold out and down graded. The store in town is more than adequate since building the addition a while back but it’s small and limited. Nobody sold two pound packages of factory farmed, full-of-additives, high sodium Swedish meatballs. I had to <gasp> learn to make them myself. They weren’t very good in the beginning, we didn’t have the internet that resembled anything that it is today (can you imagine!) to deliver thousands of recipes to us. Trial and error. Here’s what I came up with years ago. It works well with moose, as I’ve made here, deer, beef, bison – just about any meat. It’s probably great with pork and turkey. partnerships

ingredients, Swedish meatballs, how to make swedish meatballsSwedish meatballs, recipeswedish meatballs, moose meat, recipeegg noodles, Swedish meatballsIngredients

  • 1 pound ground moose meat
  • 1 large egg (I used 2 Silkie eggs)
  • ½ cup bread crumbs (If using ground beef you’ll probably need ¾ to 1 cup)
  • ¾ cup milk, divided into ¼ and ½ cup portions
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • salt & pepper to taste
  • ⅛ tsp Allspice (don’t leave this out, it makes a difference
  • 1½ Tbl butter
  • 1½ Tbl all purpose flour
  • 1 cup beef broth
  • 1 Tbl olive oil
  • 8 oz egg noodles
  1. Combine moose burger, bread crumbs, ¼ cup milk (yes, really), the egg, garlic, salt and pepper, and allspice. Mix well. Use your hands, they’ll wash. Get a feel for the texture.Is it a little too soft? Add bread crumbs.
  2. I use a small ice cream scoop to make uniform meatballs. They’ll cook evenly this way. Make the meatballs and pan fry them in 1 Tbl olive oil until they are medium rare.
  3. Melt the butter. Add the flour to the butter and stir together to make a roux. Cook the roux on low heat for five minutes. If you skip this step the roux will taste like flour.
  4. Add ¾’s cup beef broth to the roux and stir until bubbly. Continue to stir while adding ½ cup milk. Simmer over low heat until the sauce begins to bubble. Taste the sauce. Add salt as needed. Thin the sauce as needed with the remaining ¼ cup beef broth.
  5. Add the meatballs to the sauce. Leave the fat in the pan but be sure to get the bits of meat. They add a lot of flavor to the sauce. Keep the sauce and moose meatballs warm over a low flame.
  6. Cook the egg noodles for six to seven minutes. Drain. Place a serving of noodles on the plate and top with moose meatballs and sauce. Add a vegetable and you have a complete meal! Enjoy!
Moose Meatloaf Recipe

Moose Meatloaf Recipe

Moose Meatloaf Recipe

Some of my favorite meals are based around wild game. Supper is hours away and my stomach is already growling. I mixed up moose meatloaf this afternoon to let it set for a few hours before I pop it into the oven. You can read about the day this moose became an ingredient in my moose meatloaf recipe.


Here’s the recipe. Adjust it as you see fit. Most ingredients are in “to taste” amounts.

1 pound ground moose (works well with deer, pork, turkey and beef)
1 egg
1/3 cup chopped onion
1 small chopped bell pepper
1 tablespoon minced garlic
salt & pepper
1 tablespoon burger seasoning
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, divided

Combine the moose meat with all ingredients except cheese, then sprinkle the cheese on top before baking. It’s just as good with the cheese mixed in but I like the appearance of it browned on top of the loaf. For seasoning this time I used Gourmet Burger by Weber. I sometimes use Italian seasoning. I mix with my well-washed hands.

I used two eggs because they’re small, laid by my Silkie chickens. The garlic was grown in my garden and the moose was hunted a few miles from here. The salt came from Maine Sea Salt. The onion, pepper and seasoning were store bought.

I don’t add bread crumbs or other dry fillers to this moose meatloaf recipe because wild game is lean.

One pound of ground meat filled two small cast iron pans. I baked the meat loaves in cast iron pans that hold one-half pound of meat each at 400* for 15-18 minutes. Moose meat is lean so be careful to not dry it out by over cooking. A bread pan sized meatloaf will need to cook for about 45 minutes, then allow it to rest for 10 minutes to finish cooking.

My favorite way to use leftovers is a sandwich. Slice the meatloaf while it’s cold, warm it up on an oiled or buttered cast iron pan, add a slice of good cheese and make a sandwich.

moose meatloaf recipe, pepper, onion, garlic, eggs
moose meatloaf recipe, Weber seasoning
moose meatloaf recipe, ingredients
moose meatloaf recipe, parm cheese

moose meatloaf recipe, meatloaf


Moose Meatballs – large batch now, convenience later

Moose Meatballs – large batch now, convenience later

Moose Meatballs

It’s getting to be that time of year when life gets busy – garden and high tunnel, seedlings in the house, outdoors work, a new landscaping project, firewood, releasing an apple tree, enlarging a food plot, fishing, turkey hunting… You get the idea. I had an unexpected free afternoon last week so I thawed a five pound package of moose burger and got busy making moose meatballs.

You may download and print the recipe in a pdf file.

Moose Meatball Recipe

5 pounds ground moose (substitute other wild game or beef if you’d like)
1 Tbl black pepper
2 Tbl Kosher salt
2 Tbl Garlic powder (or fresh garlic to taste)
2 Tbl Paprika
2 Tbl Thyme (dry) and 2 Tbl basil (dry) OR 4 Tbl Italian Seasoning
6 large eggs


Mix it all together. I used the KitchenAid because I had a lot of moose burger to mix well. Mixing this way rather than by hand or spoon changes the texture of the meatballs and loaf. It will be more compact. I don’t mind the difference in texture.

Shape into meatballs. Sometimes I use a scoop to make sure they’re the same size, other times I wing it.

I bake my meatballs in a cast iron skillet. You can use a baking pan or cookie sheet if you don’t use cast iron. They’re also great cooked on the stove top but take more attention. On a chilly day like we have in the late winter and early spring, it’s nice to have a little added warmth from the oven.

If you bake them, you don’t need to preheat the oven. Put the meatballs in the oven, turn it on and let them cook for 15 minutes. Turn once and turn the oven off to let them finish cooking.

When cool, vacuum seal or otherwise wrap the moose meatballs for the freezer.

moose meatballs, ingredients
moose meatballs, cast iron
moose meatballs, vacuum seal for storage