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ELK? Help!

Hi fellow hounds
my friend brought us some elk meat. Steaks and ground meat. Do I just treat it like beef and make a stew??

any special advice?


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    1. It is very lean, so as saeyedoc says, don't overcook it. I use the ground elk the same as I do ground beef. I marinate my steaks and do them on the grill, on the rare side.

      1 Reply
      1. re: marycarol

        Elk is very lean and the best elk-burgers always need a bit of beef fat added to them.

        I have found the wild game steaks are always better when marinated for 3-6 hours. Grill them over a very hot fire, and don't cook to much over 150F. Don't forget to let them rest covered with loosely tented foil for 5 minutes.

      2. Strangely enough, Joy of Cooking might have a recipe. I have one of their older cookbooks and they have advice for cooking some pretty exotic game.

        Another place to try is the LL Bean cookbook.

        1. Definitely agree with addition of beef tallow to the ground elk, otherwise they will fall apart.

          1. Hi - Have not cooked elk for years, but my family's main red meat is venison, similar to handle. I have found that the lean game is wonderful when treated in the manner of Wiener schnitzel. Slice your steaks thinly, then dredge in flour, an egg dip, then seasoned bread crumbs. Regrigerate to set, then fry. Read up on the process - it's simple, but precise...and a quick weeknight meal. The ground meat makes delicious meatballs. I agree with the addition of some ground fat to enrich, but have also had great success with just adding an additional egg and egg yolk to the meat/crumb/aromatic mixture when I am out of any tallow or fatback. I hope your friend gives you more elk - it's great!

            1. Lovely, thank you.

              Indeed Louise is correct, Joy does have a section on venison, a word which (I learned there) properly refers to all large antlered game animals...including elk!

              Alas, i don't know if the cuts I have are tender or tough parts...and here in northern Vermont we have already put our grill away for the long winter. Would a tender cut be ruined by making a stew? Red wine?

              Alternatively, is there a way to tell by just looking at the piece of meat what it is? This is a wild animal that my friends processed themselves, so it's just wrapped in white paper. No marks or anything.

              Wiener schnitzel is a great idea -- I love a fast weeknight meal, and elk meatballs sound delish.

              Now if only I could figure out what part of the animal these lumps of meat came from...

              3 Replies
              1. re: amyamelia

                To determine how to prepare your venison I would recommend testing it by cutting off a small piece of the meat then quickly sauteing it in a hot pan with a little oil (not long, just to rare or medium rare). If it is too chewy you probably have a "tougher" cut that should be cooked slowly (stew, braise, etc) so that the natural connective tissues can breakdown. If the test piece is tender then you probably have a cut that is better suited to quick cooking (roasting, sauteing, grilling, etc). You'll also be able to tell how "gamey" the meat is at this point. If it's too gamey for your taste then marinating or breading/frying will certainly mask that flavor and that's probably about all you can do make it enjoyable. However, I think that too many people believe venison tastes like Worchester sauce. If the animal was harvested/processed properly and the flavor of the meat is good then don’t cover it up. Roll it in some herbs or salt and pepper, sear, roast to 130-140 F internal temp (rare to mid-rare), make a simple sauce, and enjoy.

                1. re: GoodGame

                  It is called a "backstrap" steak. So from what I can find out it is a tender cut that should be cooked quickly. Our friend is an avid and experienced hunter so I expect it will be excellent, but even if it is too gamey for my taste, my husband will be up to the task. He eats anything.

                  thanks to everyone for all of the help.


                  1. re: amyamelia

                    "Backstrap" is another name for the boneless loin... one of the most tender cuts of meat from the animal. Enjoy!

              2. I think it depends on how old the elk was. A friend of mine has told stories about elk steaks she has been given by hunter acquaintances. They found the resulting meat to be overpoweringly strong flavored, and nobody in the family would eat it, even after I suggested she marinate it in red wine vinegar and peppercorns. When I was growing up people used to give us deer meat, and my mother usually cooked it with sauerkraut, which disguised any strong taste the meat may have had.

                Sarah C

                1 Reply
                1. re: kittyfood

                  It was amazing. We seared it, in a cast iron skillet with just salt and pepper. Served with pesto-smashed potatoes and a green salad. Yummy and so tender I didn't even need my knife. Not a hint of gamey flavor. Leftovers for tonight! thanks for all the help...I never would have had the nerve to cook it so little. It would have been wasted in stew.