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.


~ by climbhighak on August 31, 2009.

14 Responses to “Mystery Meat for Dinner =)”

  1. beauty!

  2. Well said..let the ingredients speak for themselves and let the rockstar ingredient shine! I’ve not tried elk meat, can you compare it to something else? Not to pry..who sent you the mystery meat?
    One more thing…so you mean i can’t order med rare if and when i get to visit you? Alright…i’ll order for rare but i’ll make sure to go to the grill and put my meat back for few more seconds w/o you knowing ha!ha!ha!

    • Not prying at all. It was my cousin’s wife’s cousin that sent a big care package back to my cousin. Did you follow that? We sent lots of fish back with him after his trip earlier this summer. He was very appreciative.

      He was on the halibut fishing trip that we caught the skate on. The same one that the humpback whales surrounded us.

      Medium rare is acceptable but I would strongly reccommnend rare when it comes to such beautifully cared for game. Some game has a wild tasted but this was very mild. You can tell it was well aged and butchered with skill. Not everyone does that.

  3. Those are about as perfectly cooked as I have ever seen. Good job!

  4. Well, I have a freezer full of elk (and moose and deer). I am not a fan of wild game but I must say that elk is actually nice. We ate grilled elk all summer – I have put your recipe on the fridge to give it a whirl.

    Husband is up in Northern BC skulking through the woods for elk as I write this. Have any more recipes?


    • When game is butchered and aged correctly, it is head and shoulders above beef in quality and flavor. Moose is my favorite but I am enjoying this bit of elk.

      Stronger gamey flavors can be helped with the addition of a bit of vinegar in your marinade.

      Other recipes? I did some elk burger sliders on the grill the other day. Basically I just use game the same way I would any other red meat.

  5. Love the rare game. I haven’t ever had elk though. Moose is one of my faves. I love the lean game meat. My dad used to make the best deer summer sausage. It wasn’t fancy, just a lot of peppercorns and a special seasoning blend. He kept it lean and to this day I can’t stand fatty game summer sausage and those meat sticks.

    Good job!

  6. It looks delicious. I must confess, I’ve never eaten Elk before. Venison yes, Elk, no

  7. In college I practically lived off of frozen elk meat (burgers, sirloin, etc) that we cooked on a little hibachi. Elk is delicious.

  8. Those are about as perfectly cooked as I have ever seen. Good job!;. All the best!!

  9. I love the attitude of “start with good ingredients and try not to fuck them upo.” This philosophy has garnered me acclamation for my cuisine that I probably do not entirely deserve. Thos is a splendid meal that I wish that I had had the good fortune to be present for. Simple ingredients (especially when we are talking about game meat and elk trumps all others for me) and a simple presentation will always earn top marks from me.

  10. I regret that I will likely never see Elk on my menu, this can’t be beat for quality and freshness. I have noticed your methods lately have been simpler then older posts…and I like it.
    I love finding little mysteries in the freezer, but mine are usually just some veggie preparation. Although, I did find ham in there a week or so ago = P

  11. I’m so jealous that you can get elk! I have to agree with you though – simple is the way to go. Especially when you’ve got prime ingredients.

  12. I like you al pastor recipe better anyways…I really enjoy your blog, you have been linked.

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