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Help Lessening Gaminess of sustainably raised pork

boston_stokerboston_stoker Posts: 794
edited 5:47AM in EggHead Forum
Hello everyone,

I went to a pig butchery demo the other weekend at Formaggio Kitchen in Cambridge. They got a sustainably Massachusetts raised Landrace pig from Savenor's for the demo. I bought an entire shoulder at the end of demonstration.

I only give the details about the pig because the head of charcuterie there told us since the pig was not mass raised and processed, it's meat was likely going to have more flavor than the typical pork you buy at the market.

This weekend I cooked the Boston butt, and the instructor was spot on. The meat was for the lack of a better word gamey. I admit it was different, but it did not bother me. The pull was still quite tasty. My girlfriend, however, did not like it to say the least.

I still have the picnic left for another cook. Does anyone have any recommendations about how I can reduce the gamey taste (preparation, brine, marinade, etc.)?

Thank for your help.



The butt:


  • 2Fategghead2Fategghead Posts: 9,623
    Very interesting. I'll be watching for reply's.
  • Austin  EggheadAustin Egghead Posts: 3,690
    This may sound weird, but our former neighbor use to swear that wild hog and sweeten condensed milk were a match made in heaven. I never had a bad piece of pork from his grill. Search the net and see what you find.
    Large, small and mini SW Austin
  • Little StevenLittle Steven Posts: 28,740
    There are many options from brine to youghurt to buttermilk to lessen the gaminess of meat.



    Caledon, ON


  • thirdeyethirdeye Posts: 7,428
    Well, you're on the right track. You basically have two choices.... dilute the flavor or disguise it.

    Most gamy flavors come from the feed, the animals age & sex, and are held in the blood, fat, bone, and lastly the flesh. Of course I'm assuming you removed the hair, heheheeee. Sorry, old hunter's joke.

    De-boning it, removing a lot of fat are a good start. Once you do that, a salt water soak, a buttermilk soak, a cold water & vinegar soak, or a cold water & cider vinegar soak out will remove some of the blood and the gamy flavor.

    To disguise it you can go with a marinade, or can change up your cooking method and braise it with something like a red wine, or a lot of aromatics.

    Another good way to disguise it would be to grind it and make meatballs or sausage out of it. Not something like bratwurst, but traditional Chinese or Moroccan flavors might work well.
    Happy Trails

    Barbecue is not rocket surgery
  • fishlessmanfishlessman Posts: 20,892
    this might work, dont be afraid of the garlic, infact add more, last time i made it i used blood orange, was even better, mix the mojo sauce for dipping and squeeze another lime on top
  • stikestike Posts: 15,597
    trying not to come off like a total knob here, but i often do, especially when i try NOT too. :laugh:

    why buy it if you don't like it? or if you have to disguise it?

    american factory pork has had most of the fat (flavor) bred out of it, and we have grown up on a steady diet of neutral, relatively bland pork (and beef).

    for me, it comes to to enjoying what a thing is. that pork isn't factory pork. it is supposed to have flavor. what you are tasting isn't 'gaminess'. it's likely 'pork'.

    the word 'gamey' creeps into every discussion about meat that tastes 'different'. heck, i want my game to taste like game. someone hunts down venison and honors me with a chunk, it would be sacrilege to smother it, i think. same for that pig.

    i think maybe you could look at ways to enhance the flavor, so that it works with other ingredients, rather than is obscured under them.

    consider this book... it is about cooking with sustainable pork, beef, fowl, rabbit, etc.

    Good Meat

    To be honest, sustainability shmushstainability. I will buy it if it tastes excellent. i'm interestd in meat that's not from the commercial famrs mainly for flavor reasons. and if it's no better tasting, i won't feel bad about going back to buying it from the stupormarket either.

    it's the differences in things that make them interesting. look at it as a learning experience. no one likes wine th first timme they try it either. even the boone's farm. :laugh:
    ed egli avea del cul fatto trombetta -Dante
  • Yup, you came off as a knob. :laugh:

    How does your response contribute to answering the question I posed? I usually enjoy your posts, but this was less than helpful.

    It was purchased to try something new and different, and it was not me who did not like it.

    I too want game to taste like game, but this isn't really game. I as well am not a sustainability fanatic. This is what they used at the class. Thus, this is what I could buy if I wanted to take away some meat from the class, which I decided I did.
  • If I brine it first in salt water or vinegar, could I then do a buttermilk soak as well, or would that be disastrous?
  • JohnBJohnB Posts: 177
    hmmm. I eat a lot of pork from my local farmer:

    and have never had any gamey flavors with their pork. I've cooked chops, loins, shoulders, ribs, etc... It may be what was mentioned above -- where and what they're eating. You may want to try a different farm.

    Now, on the other hand, sometimes the fat, not the meat, on the steaks will taste pretty gamey, but that's about it. The meat is delicious!
  • thirdeyethirdeye Posts: 7,428
    Yeah, I don't think you could pair one method with another. And the concentration of the salt water is way less than a brine, maybe a tablespoon of salt in a half gallon of water. All you want to accomplish is some leeching of blood.

    You should see some color change in the water as the salt draws out some blood. With real fresh meat I've seen the buttermilk darken slightly too.

    Timewise could be from a couple of hours to overnight.
    Happy Trails

    Barbecue is not rocket surgery
  • stikestike Posts: 15,597
    sounded to me like you were going to keep buying it. the qwuestion implied you were going to buy something you didn't like, and wanted to cover up the flavor.

    i wasn't being a knob, sorry if you took it that way

    as for contributing... try that book. the recipes work with the meat, and the flavors come together.
    ed egli avea del cul fatto trombetta -Dante
  • Thanks John,

    According to the instructor, these pigs forage as well as receive a higher grade feed. The Boston butt is fairly well marbled with fat, so I think you are correct in your assessment.

    I am good with the meat at Costco. I just bought this because I thought it would be fun to take some meat home from the class. The skin was still on, although I trimmed it off prior to rubbing it and smoking. I think this contributed as well. Luckily it was boneless. Since you make stock from them, I am sure they contain a lot of flavor as well.
  • No worries.

    I still have the 8 lbs of picnic left because I bought the whole shoulder at the class. I am just hoping to have better results with it than I did with the butt, so that everyone else will enjoy it as much as I did. For that to happen, I know I need to try to reduce some of the meat's flavor, as sad as they may sound.
  • fishlessmanfishlessman Posts: 20,892
    sometimes its not just the flavor, its peoples expectations of what it should taste like, maybe roast it up for some cuban panini sandwhiches
  • Seems a shame to take steps to reduce the flavor, when that flavor is what people pay extra for. If you liked the flavor of the butt, but your girlfriend didn't, why not cook the picnic on an occasion where there would be other options for your girlfriend, like a party? Share that fantastic cut with people who will appreciate it.
  • mkcmkc Posts: 540
    boston_stoker wrote:
    If I brine it first in salt water or vinegar, could I then do a buttermilk soak as well, or would that be disastrous?

    What about combining both? Add a little kosher salt to the buttermilk. I do that with lamb shanks (overnight in the fridge) and it works quite well. I also trim off the large areas of fat.
    Egging in Denton, Texas
  • Do you know if anyone else had a problem with the meat they bought/cooked? Maybe you got some "boar taint".

    I've been buying local pork from non-industrial operations and haven't had problem with flavor.
  • The charcuterie expert warned us this pork was likely to have a stronger flavor, so I knew going in it would have a stronger taste. However, I didn't really know what that meant necessarily, although now I certainly do. Savenor's is one of the best butchers in Boston, so I do not doubt the quality of the meat.

    I actually don't mind the flavor. Since my girlfriend doesn't like it, I am afraid that other friends of ours may be put off by it as well. That is why I asked for tips on how reduce the flavor before I cook the remaining picnic I have left.
  • Can you use other adjectives other than 'gamey'? Sour, peaty, 'like freshly turned sod', truffles, or something else?

    I really don't think you can effectively cover up or remove the taste of more flavorful meats without compromising other aspects of the meat.

    Those of you down south may cringe at the thought of this, but I used to drive from MN to TX every January to hunt wild boar/feral hogs with a pistol. Try as I might to help reduce your population of these pests, I couldn't make a dent in it, and I always collected lots of groceries. :)

    The in-laws feasted and enjoyed the pulled pork I served one day, that is until they found out what it was - then they told me they hated it. Now they're skeptical of anything I serve that they don't see come out of a plastic wrapped styrofoam package...
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