What Vegetables Go With Game Meat?

Updated April 17, 2017

Gourmets who appreciate leaner and more flavourful meats consider game meats a delicacy. "Game" typically refers to the meat of any non-domesticated creature; wild boar, for example, is game while the pork loin in the average supermarket is not. As wild creatures have not undergone centuries of breeding to modify their taste as barnyard animals have, their meat has a more pronounced flavour. Choose vegetables that complement game without concealing its taste.


The strong flavour and fragrance of onions stands up to any game meat. Every major cuisine includes some variation on this bulbous root vegetable or its relatives such as leeks, shallots and scallions. Match a more strongly-flavoured meat with a more flavourful onion and pair milder game with mellower varieties. Venison from deer, moose or elk goes well with powerful yellow onions or sweet red varieties, while waterfowl and game birds pair well with the more delicate taste of ramps or shallots. Add onions to a game-meat stew or surround a venison roast with whole onions that will soften as the meat roasts.


The mild flavour of potatoes makes a good counterpoint to the rich, strong aromas and tastes of game meats. Potatoes add a more familiar component to a meal with an exotic meat, so serving them with game can increase the appeal of the meal for game neophytes. These starchy vegetables can bake alongside a roast or blend with milk and butter for creamy mashed potatoes. Pipe potato purée atop spiced, minced game and onions for a shepherd's pie or cut them into strips and make french fries to pair with venison burgers.


Turnips traditionally accompany game meats in older European recipes as both the game and the plant were readily accessible. Although "turnip" generally refers to the root of this member of the Brassica family, the dark green tops taste delicious as well. The root of the plant has a mild sweetness that rivals potatoes in its mellow creaminess. Turnip greens have an astringent, peppery quality that stands up well to strong game meats. Serving mashed turnips alongside braised turnip greens and venison steaks would provide a good flavour balance on one plate.


Whether sweet or hot, all the members of the Capsicum family of vegetables go with game meats. Chilli con carne requires a generous amount of chilli peppers, as do a number of Mexican, Indian, Cajun and Thai dishes. Depending on what the animal ate in life, bear meat can taste overwhelmingly strong for some palates; cooking it with chillies in a stew or goulash tames the taste and makes it more palatable to those who prefer less gaminess. For milder game birds and waterfowl, choose milder peppers that will not overwhelm the meat.

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Lauren Whitney covers science, health, fitness, fashion, food and weight loss. She has been writing professionally since 2009 and teaches hatha yoga in a home studio. Whitney holds bachelor's degrees in English and biology from the University of New Orleans.