Mystery Meat for Dinner =)
What do you do when confronted with this?
I knew where the package came from but what was inside was going to be a surprise. Having butchered a few game animals myself, coming across a package with a big fat smiley face on it was definitely promising. I figured it was elk. Having had a couple other packages from the same source labled as elk burger. Could it be? Let’s take a look.
Still not sure but it does look promising to me.
Now we are getting somewhere. It sure does look like medallions of backstrap to me. Very lean trimmed across the grain like all steaks. bright red and clean baby. This is Robert’s fat ass grin. =)
So knowing what I was looking at, I decided on a very simple preparation. When confronted with top quality ingredients, a cook has to let go of ego and just don’t fuck up the ingredient. That means just prepare things simply so that your rockstar ingredients can shine. I mean really, how often do you come across elk backstrap steaks?
I went for the marinade that I almost always use for top quality game steaks. Olive oil, kosher salt, fresh cracked 4 peppercorn blend, balsamic vinegar, and some chopped garlic.
These still had a little frost in them from thawing. So I just left them on the counter in the marinade to come up to room temperature for about an hour.
In the meantime I felt it was neccessary to dust off the charcoal grill and fire it up. All summer I have succumbed to the conveinence of my propane grill. In the immortal words of Hank Hill “taste the meat, not the heat”. Well that is kind of catchy but for such a treat I thought the extra effort of firing up the Weber kettle was called for. I washed off some sweet potatoes and then rubbed them in butter and seasoned simply with kosher salt and fresh cracked pepper. These were wrapped in foil and slow baked on the grill for about an hour.
Now for the steaks. I admit at this point that I was a little out of practice on the charcoal grill. The potatoes were cooked toward the outside edges of the grill while the charcoal fire was piled in the center. They were cooked with the lid on and all the vents wide open in a very clean grill ( no ash at all in the bottom ). I should have pulled the lid off for just a couple of minutes to supercharge the coals before putting on the steaks. I didn’t. So no super sexy grill marks. Dang it!
I did however leave the top off after realizing my error and the steaks did git a bit of color. Not much because they weren’t on the heat long. These cuts are basically filet mignon. Hardly any fat or any marbling. That fact is exaggerated in wild game. So cooking these beyond rare in my opinion is a cardinal sin. If you were at my house and asked for yours to be cooked even medium, you would be asked to leave. You think I am kidding?
Pull off when very rare. Serve everything as simply as possible. Again I say, let your cook’s ego get out of the damn way. I went with the simplest veg I could find, organic heirloom tomatoes seasoned with salt and pepper.
I put some butter, salt, and pepper on the sweet potatoes.
And the star of the show.
Bloody rare dead animal. Give me mystery meat like this every time.
Over the past several years of blogging, my cooking has come a long way. Complicated labor intensive recipes have graced the pages of several different blogs. Very French things like a 2 day demi glace, stocks from scratch, the Skate with Traditional Flavors Powdered from Daring Cooks, even guest appearances on others blogs with three day marinated fish have all made appearances. I think it took me figuring out complicated recipes like that to be confident enough to perform simple food like this. It is the thing I respect most in chefs like Gordon Ramsey and Marco Pierre White.
Let the ingredients speak for themselves.