I've got elk - now what?
Someone gifted me with two pounds of ground elk meat and what is labeled "round steak", which appears to be quite large (I'm guessing 16 - 24 oz). Anyone have any great ideas on how best to cook this meat? The obvious choice would be burgers with some of it...
I have LOADS of moose meat, which is more similar to elk mean than elk is to deer meat. (p.s. all are considered "venison")
I use it just like I would beef, with one difference.... I add more fat when cooking, as it's quite lean.
Contrary to what I had been told also, it really does not require long cooking. Elk and Moose are pretty "slow" animals, which means the meat is more tender than an active animal like the smaller deer. There is, on many cuts, quite a lot of silverskin to trim, but the dog isn't complaining about the scraps.
My first outing I made a moose bourguignon, because I thought a daube was the way to go, but it really wasn't necessary. It tasted fine, but I save lower quality meat for the long cooking treatment.
I've since made moose stroganoff, and a seared tenderloin, served up against a beef tenderloin. Again, the big difference was the leanness. Moose hash, moose burgers, moose sausage, grilled steaks- you name it.
So, use it any way you would beef, just add more butter/oil, or even better- duck fat. That's splendid.
I just posted this on the better burger thread. Mix small bits of frozen butter through the game meat before making it into patties if you're doing burgers. Last ingredient in if you're adding anything else. You want the butter to stay frozen as long as possible before hitting the heat. Then get them quickly on the grill or in the pan. As the butter melts it bastes the very lean meat making it moister. I use this method with venison and last night used it with caribou. With the caribou I also added a couple of tablespoons of water while mixing up the meat. Another poster suggested that and it really seemed to work. In other ground game recipes (like meat loaf, meat balls) there seems to be enough moisture from the other added ingredients. I've also used ground game in shepherd pie, pasta sauces, pot pies any recipe that you'd use other ground meat in. However, I don't recommend mixing it with other meats if you want the flavor of the game to come through, it's easily covered up. Some people add beef fat to their ground game- might as well just eat beef. If you need to moisten it up without using butter add a little neutral tasting fat (non-transfat Crisco for example).
I haven't had the chance to cook elk but I found that my go to red wine marinade for venison was too strong for caribou and I'm thinking the same may be true for elk. I switched it out for a white wine. Wine, s&p, olive oil, garlic, rosemary and a few juniper berries, just a touch, maybe a tablespoon of cider vinegar is in my marinade. I mix it in a small pot and let it warm for a few minutes to steep the herbs, then I marinate the roast for a few hours. I proceed from there as I would a pot roast. This is where I sometimes make an exception to the no other meat fats rule and I'll lay some strips of nice bacon on top of the roast to baste it while it's cooking.
I also do picatta and marsala with caribou and venison. Prepare it the same way as you would veal, no need to marinate. Slicing the meat 1/4 inch thick and then pounding it flat breaks down the connective tissue.
Braising works beautifully too and the marinating is optional.
I've had little success in serving venison and caribou as traditional grilled or pan-seared "steaks" unless the cuts come from the backstrap or loin (same thing, different terms) and with those I wouldn't go beyond a just medium rare because it will end up tough and leathery. I'm not a rare meat fan so I learned this by experience. I'm sure this is because the meat is so lean.
Enjoy your elk and let us know how it turns out!
I'd be tempted to use some of the ground meat in a slow-cooked sugo, supplemented with an equal amount of ground pork, as in this recipe from Lidia Bastianich:
I used this recipe subbing lamb for the pork (I only had ground lamb and ground beef on hand at the time) and was very happy with the results--very hearty and dense with flavor.
I have the feeling that I've recommended this recipe to you before under different circumstances, but I might be mixing you up with someone else. [sigh] There's nothing like premature senility to keep me humble... ;-)
I've only had elk in chops. But it is very low in fat--lower even than chicken. You'll need to keep that in mind for whatever preparation you choose. For the larger piece of meat, I'd go with a stew or a braise, something that requires a long slow cooking to break down the collagen.