1. You can Use it Anywhere You Likely Use Beef
Elk has a flavor that is uniquely its own and isn’t gamey if cooked correctly. One of the questions people often ask, is “how do I pair elk with the right vegetables and sides?” Because the amount of recipes using elk out there are not as plentiful, a general rule of thumb is that although the taste is distinct, you can really use Elk anywhere you would use beef – with the same seasonings you might add to beef, and any sides you might pair with beef, etc.
2. Less Fat makes it both a Blessing and a Curse
Elk is a wonderfully healthy meat that is incredibly low in fat and cholesterol. Right from the start in looking at your product, you’ll notice that this meat is not “marbled” like most other meats you probably will work with. It’s great because it won’t shrink up as much as other red meats, but with very little fat, Elk will become tough if you cook it too long. This is not a meat that you can forget while you walk off and talk with friends.
3. You’ll Need to Watch Your Timing..Closely
If you want to do it absolutely perfect, most recommend that you use a meat thermometer. On a thermometer, getting it rare to medium rare is between 130-140 degrees Fahrenheit of internal temperature. This is the recommended doneness. Once it hits 150 degrees, the meat will start to dry out…fast. If you are grilling the meat, you should know in advance if you have “hot spots” on your grill, and avoid placing the meat there to get a nice even temperature.
Whether just grilling freestyle (for the brave) or using the meat thermometer method, as long as the internal temperature is right or you judge it to be done, be sure to let the meat sit for about 10 minutes before serving it. Resting the meat gives it a chance to finish up the process and let the juices distribute nicely….and it’s also a great time to get your sides together.
4. If You like it more Well-Done, Marinate!
No matter what is recommended, some people will simply want their meat a bit more cooked than medium rare. If you have friends or family who like it more well-done, I’d ask them to try medium rare but if they insist, a method that helps tremendously in retaining moisture is marinating the meat. Don’t hesitate to give it a try, and put together a wonderful marinade…but as a precaution, I’d be sure to tell my guests that although marinating does all it can to keep moisture locked in, due to the leanness, this meat will likely dry out quickly no matter what you do when cooked over a certain point. Proceed with caution, and it is possible to get that meat cooked more than medium rare, but still tender.
Elk photo by: wildhog1977 via Flickr