Elk hunters put a lot of thought, planning, and resources into their hunting expeditions. It’s a lot of work, especially if you take a DIY approach, which is why a successful elk hunt is a cherished moment that will likely remain in the memory for the rest of the hunter's lifetime. But, when that long-anticipated harvest is complete, you have a brand new challenge ahead — what to do with all that elk meat?!
Fortunately, elk recipes can be delicious. Low in fat and cholesterol, elk is a very healthy meat as well. The lack of fat in the meat poses a challenge, however, as you need to be careful not to overcook elk or risk it drying out. The most important things to know about cooking elk are to choose a quick-cooking, high-heat method for tender cuts like backstrap and tenderloin, and aim for medium-rare or medium doneness. For tougher cuts like rump, shanks, shoulder, neck and larger roasts, cook elk at a low temperature for a long time, ideally with some liquid in a braise. Ground elk is versatile and adaptable to both approaches.
If you’re new to cooking elk, start with some tried-and-true recipes. You probably have plenty of elk meat in the freezer to try many preparations, but here are some tempting ideas to get you started.
Bacon-Wrapped Grilled Elk Backstrap
This delicious elk preparation recipe from allrecipes takes the smart approach of wrapping fatty, rich bacon around lean elk backstrap. It calls for a simple, umami-rich marinade of Worcestershire sauce, garlic and onion powder and black pepper, which complement the natural meaty flavors of the meats. The marinade also features a touch of liquid smoke flavoring, but you could probably skip that if you adapt this recipe for outdoor cooking with nature’s own superior smoke flavoring!
Next time you’re in the mood for a classic, all-American meatloaf, try this recipe that substitutes ground elk for the usual ground beef. The ingredients list comprises staples you probably have on hand, including eggs, canned tomato sauce, Dijon mustard and a touch of brown sugar. The meatloaf bakes for 70 minutes in the oven, but putting it all together only takes a short amount of time. Serve this hearty meatloaf with mashed potatoes and a green vegetable, and look forward to making sandwiches with the leftovers the next day.
Making a burger from ground elk is exactly the same process as making one from ground beef or any other ground meat. With elk, keep the grill heat high and cooking time short to prevent dry burgers, just 4 minutes per side. What distinguishes this recipe from other burger recipes is the blend of seasonings added to the ground elk. Along with salt and pepper, there’s cayenne pepper (optional if you don’t like the heat), paprika, ground cloves and sumac powder. It’s an unexpected spice blend that gives these elk burgers a complex flavor you’ll love.
Elk Bone Broth Ramen Bowl
A two-part recipe for delicious elk bone broth ramen, this is a project that takes a little time (and requires a pressure cooker), but the results promise to be well worth it. The first stage transforms elk bones — the recipe suggests elk soup bones, knuckle bones and marrow bones — into a rich broth. Strain out the aromatics and bones, but save any pieces of elk meat for the ramen bowl.
The next stage is to infuse that broth with garlic, ginger, soy sauce and sesame oil. Simmer some fresh vegetables and ramen noodles in the soup base, add the reserved elk meat, and serve with soft-boiled eggs and garnishes. This recipe is great for using up elk bones, and should leave you with plenty of extra broth to freeze for future elk recipes.
Slow-Cooked Elk Loin
Save this hearty, comforting elk recipe for slow-cooked loin for a winter weekend when you have a full day at home to supervise 8 to 10 hours of braising. The method uses a slow cooker, so it’s almost entirely hands-off time with amazingly tender, tasty results.
Along with flour-dredging and browning a 1-pound elk loin or roast, you’ll prepare a braising liquid with a base of butter, leeks, sage and German wheat beer, as well as a separate gravy from the same ingredients. When the elk is done, its texture should be soft enough to shred, similar to pulled pork or carnitas. Save any leftovers for sandwiches or tacos.
Grilled Elk Satay
The Indonesian dish of satay, which is marinated cubes of meat, skewered and grilled, is adaptable to all kinds of proteins, including elk. This recipe for grilled elk satay calls for elk sirloin, which you cut into thin strips and marinate for at least 4 hours. This technique helps the elk soak up the flavor-packed marinade, and cook super quickly without drying out. Along with marinating ahead of time, remember to soak your wood skewers in water for at least a few hours so they don’t burn.
We think this would make an amazing camping meal. You could even cook camp-friendly minute-rice instead of the jasmine rice suggested by the recipe.
Hungry for Outdoor Adventures?
Feasting on elk you hunted and harvested yourself is an amazing way to carry on enjoying your outdoor hobbies, long after you’ve returned to the comfort of home. Another way to do that is by planning your next outdoor adventure, which should include stocking up on the best gear for hunting, camping, hiking and more. Head over to PikeTrail.com and check out our full range of top-of-the-line, field-tested products, all at affordable prices.