Monday, April 23, 2012

Grilled Elk to Start the Season

There's no better way to kick off the grilling season than with a nice piece of elk.  

A co-worker of mine regularly gets stocked up with game meat from family in Montana.  Knowing that I'd never eaten elk, he generously gave me a big chunk.

If you are going to eat red meat, elk is better for you than beef.  It is much leaner, has more minerals, and less calories.  Also, the elk meat I got was wild caught and butchered by hand so it did not participate in the industrial food system at all.

Going into it, I had no idea what would come out the other side.  I'd never eaten elk before.  I anticipated something like venison.  The guy at the wine shop said it was something like lamb.  My co-worker warned me to be careful cooking it because it was very very lean.   My wife was fearful that it would be too gamey.  My only consolation was that there's a pizza shop right around the corner from my house.

To prepare the mystery elk I went for very simple, preferring simple true flavors over elaborate layers. I wanted to do as much as possible on the grill as possible.  I focused on using seasonal vegetables from the farmer's market. I went with a mesquite wood fire because it seemed to fit the ingredients.  Elk is a wild animal, it deserves a real wood fire.

Elk meat
Purple and yellow heirloom carrots
New onions
Olive Oil, fresh thyme, sea salt, black pepper.

1.  Coarsely crack the black pepper with a mortar and pestle.
2.  Season the meat with fresh sea salt and the cracked black pepper.
3.  Grill the meat over a mesquite wood fire to medium.
4.  Rub with olive oil,  then grill the onions and asparagus.
5.  Roast the carrots in the oven with some olive oil and fresh thyme.

Maybe it was the combination of salt, pepper and smoke, but the meat had none of the gamey flavor that some people had warned me about.  It also wasn't lamb-y either.  In fact, it wasn't like any type of meat I could think of.  It tasted sort of like what I imagine brined beef would taste like.   In any case, it was delicious and we'll definitely be eating more elk in the future.

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