When looking for an interesting cut of meat, I settled on Elk Steaks, because they were something unique withoutbeing completely out there (I really wanted to buy rattlesnake, but I didn’t think my family would go for it!).
With meat, I always think simple is better. While there are a boatload of recipes for elk steaks that with ingredients lists a mile long, I settled on a simple recipe because I wanted to let the meat shine. While this recipe was calling my name, I didn’t want the taste of elk to be obscured by bacon or liquid smoke, because I wanted to get the full experience of elk meat. Here’s the recipe I chose:
Grilled Elk Steaks (Source)
4 venison steaks, about 2-3 pounds total
Lemon juice (optional)
- Bring the venison out of the fridge and salt it lightly. Let it come to room temperature for at least 15 minutes, or up to 1 hour. Use this time to get your grill ready.
- When your grill is hot, use a grill brush to scrape down the grates. Soak a paper towel with some vegetable oil and, using tongs, wipe down the grates.
- Pat the steaks dry with paper towels and coat them with a thin film of vegetable oil. Lay them down on the grill. Do not disturb for 2 minutes. Use tongs to pick the steaks up and move them 90 degrees on the grill—this will give you the cross-hatch grill marks. Grill another 2 minutes.
- Flip the steak and grill until done, using the finger test for doneness (outlined above). Move the steak to a cutting board and grind black pepper over it. Let it rest for 5 to 10 minutes before serving, with a squeeze of lemon juice if you’d like.
One thing I really liked about the webpage which contained this recipe is that it explained why this method was chosen, as the author believes that more intensive recipes (marinades, brining, etc.) should be reserved for the tougher cuts of meat, such as meat from older animals, but with some meats, such as elk, the flavour is show stopping enough without any extra help (Source). When I set out with this recipe, I chose not to include the lemon juice, because I didn’t want it overpowering the meat. I also decided to grill the steaks, as opposed to baking or pan-frying them simply because I prefer meat that is cooked on the grill. I always find that the smokiness that is added compliments the juiciness of the dish.
One main thing to keep in mind when cooking elk is that there is barely any marbling, so one must not overcook it. While this is obviously the goal when cooking anything, overcooking elk meat is disastrous because it renders it completely dry, and barely edible (source). Because my steaks were pretty thin (maybe an inch thick, if that!), I was very careful with the cooking time, and perhaps cooked it for half the amount of time, and the result was a nicely cooked, medium rare elk steak.
The result of this recipe? I didn’t think it quite meets the claim that it is completely interchangeable with beef (Such as is said here), but it was a nice change. The flavour was quite mild, and would be a nice alternative protein source when planning out dinner. I do understand now why people would want to marinate these steaks or add bacon and the like, because the flavour of elk is not completely outstanding, and is much more subtle than one is used to with red meat. However, given the nutritional statistics of the steak I ate, I think elk will be featured more often in my diet because it is a great way to satisfy my craving for red meat without blowing my caloric budget.