The largest and heaviest member of the deer family, the moose (or elk, if you’re in Europe or Asia) is certainly an uncommon game meat for anyone outside of Alaska. Even if you’re not planning on moving to the snowy tundra, though, you can take part in cooking and eating musky and beef-like moose meat.
Thanks to the magic of the internet, moose meat is available year-round for curious carnivores — and we have all the details of where to get it, how to cook it, and what to expect from your first order of moose meat. Follow along as we explain the ins and outs of ordering and handling this exotic meat, including a simple recipe for a slow cooker moose stew that’s as delicious as it is easy to make.
What Does Moose Meat Taste Like?
Take one look at a moose, and you’ll begin to see what it might taste like as well. They’re as large as a cow, but still most closely resemble a deer — giving them a lean, beefy flavor that still has the characteristic sharp and gamey taste of wild deer.
Suzanne Bishop, a resident of Fairbanks, Alaska whose family hunts moose for subsistence over their long winters, has this to say about the taste of moose meat:
The meat is very dense, and because all their fat is stored between the hide and the muscle the meat is very, very lean. It tastes like its habitat — moose eat a lot of willow, so to me it tastes like willow buds smell in the spring. It has a strong “gamey” taste.”
She also notes that “The age and gender of the moose also make a difference… A young cow is milder tasting than an older bull.”
In your author’s experience with tasting moose meat, we very much agree: It’s a gamey, wild meat with a lean, hearty substance to it much like grass-fed beef.
Perhaps in the end, the taste of moose meat is best left to one of America’s great naturalists, Henry David Thoreau, in his book “The Maine Woods”, where he says that moose meat is:
like tender beef, with perhaps more flavour; sometimes like veal.”
How to Cook Moose Meat
Thanks to its low fat content, moose meat is both intensely flavorful and requires careful preparation to bring out its natural deliciousness. Because it’s so lean, you should avoid cooking cuts of moose meat as steaks — where they’ll be far too tough and gamey — and instead go for long cooking times, extra tenderizing, or overnight marinades.
The recipe with which I was introduced to moose meat, and still my favorite way of cooking wild game meats, is a take on Julia Child’s classic “beef bourguignon” — a French wintertime staple stew consisting of beef, vegetables, and a red wine sauce, all cooked down for many hours.
For use with moose meat, try this simplified recipe. You’ll need:
- 3 pounds moose meat, cut into 2-inch chunks
- 1 carrot, roughly chopped
- 1 white onion, diced
- 4 cloves of garlic, peeled and minced
- 2 cups red wine (any inexpensive red will do, but look for a mild flavor like merlot or pinot noir)
- 2 cups vegetable stock
- Oil, for sweating the onions
- Dried herbs, to taste
- Salt and pepper, to taste
The whole recipe works beautifully in a slow cooker, but you can also make it on the stove in a large pot over a low simmer.
Putting the whole stew together is simple: Just brown the onions and garlic in 2-3 tablespoons of oil (this will take 5-10 minutes), then add the moose meat and vegetables. Stir everything while it cooks for another 5-10 minutes, then add the stock and wine. Bring it to a boil, reduce to a simmer, and add your choice of dried herbs — thyme and oregano work particularly well. Continue to taste the broth while the vegetables cook for 30 to 45 minutes, adding salt and pepper to make everything exactly to your tastes.
And voila! A delicious moose meat stew. Serve it with bread or potatoes, and you’ll have a full meal fit for wintertime feasting.
Where to Buy Moose Meat
Moose can be a particularly difficult meat to source for most people in the United States, due to the fact that they cannot be raised on farms. In fact, true moose meat is derived entirely from wild-hunted moose, and is not available for sale to the general public.
That said, the North American Elk — second largest of the deer family behind the moose — is raised on farms in the United States and Canada, and therefore available for purchase online. While it may not have the same intensity of flavor as true moose meat, this elk meat is still markedly different from beef and will give you a taste of what eating wild moose might be like.
Elkusa.com is perhaps best known for their selection of elk and other American-raised wild meats, and they offer a wide selection of cuts as well as elk burger patties. Check out their entire store here, and consider ordering in larger quantities to get significant discounts.
Fossil Farms pastures their elk on 60,000 acres of farmland in Central Canada, and offers many cuts for sale alongside other exotic meats. Their elk sausage with apples and pears looks particularly appetizing, as does their naturally cured elk salami. See their entire selection of North American elk meats here.
Final Thoughts on Buying, Cooking, and Eating Moose Meat
Unless you’re planning on moving to much colder climes, wild moose meat will be off the table for you — but their slightly smaller cousin, the North American elk, offers much the same flavor while being readily available online. Try making your favorite beef recipes with elk meat, and you’ll be intrigued by the wild flavor that it can add to a soup or stew.