Cooking Elk Meat

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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!).IMG_1050

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:

IMG_1043Grilled Elk Steaks (Source)

4 venison steaks, about 2-3 pounds total

Salt

Vegetable oil

Black pepper

Lemon juice (optional)

Directions:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.IMG_1052
  3. 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.
  4. 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.

IMG_1030One 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.

IMG_1033One 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 theIMG_1051 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.IMG_1053

Trying Out New Types of Meat: Elk Steaks

IMG_1037      For this project, I chose to work with elk steaks. The reason for this was that I wanted a cut of meat that was healthy, 386and with 25g of protein, and only 110 calories per steak, elk fit the bill! I’ve also never had elk before, so I thought that it would be an interesting meat to experience.

The use of elk for their meat has a long history, as it was a key part of the diet of Aboriginal People and European Settlers (source). In fact, their co-existence with humans reaches back to the prehistoric era, as rock paintings of elks have been found at ancient sites (source). When cooking them, it is very important to not overcook, because as elks lack fat, it will become exceedingly dry and inedible. In fact, with steaks, one can brush the meat with butter, to help keep it from drying out. The steaks have a very fast cook time, around 5 minutes (source). There are 4 main cuts that are found: roasts, steaks, ground and stewing meat. Because of the lack of fat, cooking these cuts takes less time than with beef, and one can use both dry and wet cooking methods (source).

385One of the main draws of elk is its similarity in taste with beef, without all the saturated fat (source). Elk is also a great choice for healthy eaters. With almost 9 grams of protein per ounce, this amount is higher than what is found in both chicken and beef (source)! It’s vitamin game is also strong. People who eat a 3.5 ounce serving of elk will be ingesting their full daily dose of Vitamin B12, 15% of their daily iron, a fifth of their daily phosphorus and thiamine, as well as many other nutrients (source). Finally, elk has zero carbohydrates, so while that means you won’t be getting any fiber from the meat, there also isn’t any sugar, as well, the sodium level of the meat is very low (source).

The cut I chose was steak, which comes from the rib area (source). This cut is one of the more tender ones, as the elk does not rely on its back muscles. As already mentioned, whe n cooking elk steaks, one must be very careful not to overcook, because as elk is lacking fat, it will be very dry and inedible if not cooked perfectly. When cooking them, the maximum inner temperature the steaks can reach is 160°F, because this signifies that they are well-done, however, they should be taken out at 155, because of carry over cooking (source). There are 3 main ways to cook steaks, all dry heat methods. These are frying, grilling and broiling, all of which are appropriate because they are fast cooking methods (source). Another plus is that no marinating is needed, just salt and pepper, as well as butter if one desires. All you need to do for a delicious elk steak is season it, pop it on the grill, and Bob’s your uncle, you have a great meal!

Elk steaks are a great alternative to beef or chicken, because they are a great source of protein and a ton of vitamins. While it is possible to render them inedible when cooking, with the proper care being taken (and perhaps a dab or two of butter!), you can enjoy a delicious and healthy meal.