Being an adventurous hunter, I’ve tried many different types of game meat. One of my favorite game meats is moose meat.
It is also one of the most asked-about game meats.
If I were to describe what moose tastes like in a nutshell, I would say it’s like a cross between beef and venison.
Taste of Moose
As I mentioned above, moose tastes like a cross between beef and venison, but there is more to that.
Like most animals, the taste of moose meat is heavily influenced by habitat and diet.
I say moose taste similar to beef and venison because of their primary aquatic plant diet.
Venison is often considered strong or gamey, but moose, on the other hand, don’t have this strong flavor and is milder like beef.
An even closer resemblance to moose would be beaver, but not many people have tried beaver, so I usually stick with the beef venison cross.
Moose range across the boreal forest, including Russia, Scandinavia, and even as low as Maine and Oregon.
Given their dispersity, a moose’s diet varies greatly, and this variation can impact the flavor of moose meat.
Many of the moose in Scandinavia feed on juniper plants which have a very potent flavor than then infuses the moose meat.
In Alaska and Northern Canada, moose feed on a lot of willow and aspen which have a milder flavor.
During the Rut
Like deer, moose have a rutting season when actively breeding.
During this time, moose are highly active both physically and hormonally. This means a different flavor and texture for a consumer of game meat.
Many people relate the word gamey and venison to the strong smell or taste of deer meat.
Often one of the leading causes of this is because of the hormones bucks release to attract females.
Moose have these same hormones and, like deer, also urinate on their hind legs to attract females.
In some cases, if the meat isn’t correctly handled, it can become tainted with these hormones and pungent smells.
However, I’ve harvested some large mature bulls during the rut that would knock you out with their scent, yet the meat smelled mildly fragrant with the scent of wild grass.
Much of this is to say that the taste of moose can change with the season, but often it’s improper handling that leaves it foul tasting.
If I gave you a ribeye steak and a filet mignon, you would have two different flavors and two different opinions of each steak.
The same is true for moose, there are many different cuts, and they all vary in flavor to some degree.
The tender cuts, such as the backstrap and tenderloin, are mild and more similar to beef than some of the tougher cuts.
Cuts that are made up of mostly bone, such as the ribs and the shanks, have a deeper flavor and lean more towards the venison side of the flavor.
How Cooking Influences Flavor
As a chef, it’s essential for me to understand how cooking alters the flavor of food, which is true of moose meat.
As I mentioned earlier, some cuts of moose meat are on the milder side, which means the flavor will be what the meat is paired with.
Stronger flavored cuts work better with heavy seasoning and pairings.
Similar to venison, moose has a very low-fat content, which means it is very easily overcooked.
Also, similar to venison, most people find moose fat unpalatable, which is why it is often mixed with pork or beef fat.
All of these influences will impact the flavor of moose directly, and it is up to us to bring out the best flavor.
I recommend that if you have the opportunity to try moose to take it.