When hunting, butchering and cooking, there are always meat scraps that don’t quite make it into any particular cut. This is especially true with the more muscular bits. Those can all be collected and frozen in well-labeled plastic bags. During the summer, I like to gradually use the meat scraps in my freezer in order to make room for the fall hunting seasons. Here are some dish ideas that are perfectly suited for those leftover meat scraps.
Sausages are one of the oldest prepared foods. Traditionally, it was a way to make use of the less-desirable animal parts and scraps that could be cured in salt and put in the cleaned, inside-out intestines of an animal. Today, things aren’t done much differently than they were thousands of years ago. Sausage is simply a combination of meat scraps, fat, salt and spices, stuffed into natural animal casing. The combinations of flavors are endless, and it is a chance to experiment with your favorite ingredients.
Using freshly ground spices will give the scraps a vibrant flavor. And since the meat scraps will likely have a lot of muscle tissue, it is important to grind the meat finely to avoid a dense or chewy sausage. To do so, make sure you are working with very cold meat and equipment before putting it through the meat grinder.
If stuffing sausage casings is a bit more work than you’re up for, meatloaf is another great way you can your use scraps. Simply grind frozen scraps, then mix with bread crumbs, eggs, fresh herbs, minced onion, celery, carrot, Worcestershire, coarse mustard and your other favorite flavors and bake at 350 degrees for an hour, and you have a delicious meal for dinner. It is even great served cold on sandwiches the next day. Hunter’s Pie
A pie is perfect for a medley of game-bird scraps that wouldn’t necessarily make a meal on their own. You can use a double pie crust the way you would in a traditional “pot pie,” but you could also use leftover mashed potatoes as your top “crust.” This is sometimes referred to as Hunter’s Pie. I have often seen it made with pheasants, but any game bird or other game meat will work well along with your favorite veggies. I find that three chukar is equal to two pheasants, three grouse, six quail or 12 doves.
Javelina scraps are one of my favorite meats to turn into chili. The natural smokiness of the meat lends itself well to chili. Once you have enough meat, you can put the frozen scraps through a meat grinder, or dice it finely, then toss in a skillet with a chipotle pepper in Adobo sauce, some diced peppers and some beans and simmer until fully flavored. This chili will taste even better the next day, and even better the day after that. It will also freeze well in smaller portions.
There’s nothing better than a stew of meat scraps that have turned buttery over a long period of cooking. Stews are best in the colder months, but summer stews can be tasty if you lighten them up with fresh summer vegetables like fava beans, peas, swiss chard, tomatoes, corn, or other seasonal vegetables in your area. You can keep the broth light by using water or bird stock and skipping any flour or other thickener.
What are your favorite ways to use leftover meat scraps?