Seared Deer Steaks in a Cilantro, Lime, Jalapeno Sauce: Kick Summer Up a Notch!

“People get a little bolder and more wild in summer. You’ve got things going on kabobs, things cooking on the bone. There’s something about standing over a grill or outside with the family that inspires us.” ~Guy Fieri

Living in the middle of a desert, seafood isn’t always the best choice.  Anytime I order fish or other seafood from a restaurant, I can almost taste the freezer burn.  I can actually see it on the crab legs when I am at the grocery store. Don’t get me wrong, I still buy those crab legs and cook them up as a special treat every once in awhile, but I am still saying that in the middle of the desert, seafood is not like seafood you get other places.

That being said, oddly enough our little town has a sushi restaurant.  If you had opened up a sushi restaurant in this simple little uranium mining town thirty years ago, you would have been laughed out of town.  And most likely gone bankrupt, because I can’t imagine the tables would have been full.  However, as the town has blossomed, or actually a better word is probably exploded, into a tourist destination quickly over the last ten years, the cuisine has evolved.  There are several Thai restaurants, a handful of Mexican places, and even this sushi restaurant.

Anyway, for being a sushi restaurant sitting in a barren dust bowl of red blow sand, cactus, and sweltering heat, it is actually pretty good.  The fish is flown in daily from Hawaii, and they try to source local ingredients for the rest of their ingredients, such as vegetables and fruits.  I think the local produce is part of what appeals to me when I dine at the sushi place, and in particular I like their La Sal Roll.  Named after the mountains to the west of the town, the La Sal Roll is a salmon based roll with asparagus, lime, cucumber, and avocado.  The roll has a refreshing bite from the lime and cucumber, but is also hearty from the avocado.

This roll is the inspiration for this deer steak dish.  With summer dragging in an extra long heat wave this year, eating has been…challenging.  It feels so hot that steak sounds awful.  But it is also summer, the season of grilling, which makes steak sound appealing.  It’s a confusing state to live in.  This deer steak is a great compromise.  It takes the refreshing flavors of lime and cilantro and pairs it with the kick of jalapenos, creamy avocados, and a bit of spicy ginger.

For the steaks, I used deer backstrap and cut it into four medallions about three inches thick.  It would also work great with tenderloin or another steak cut.  Another substitution would be to use elk, moose, or pronghorn. I think this sauce would pair great with any of those steaks.  Let the steaks rest at room temperature for ten to fifteen minutes.  Then season them liberally with salt and pepper.

While the steaks are resting, preheat the oven to 400 degrees.  On a rimmed cookie sheet or in a roasting pan, place some cherry tomatoes and asparagus.  I usually do four to five cherry tomatoes and half a bundle of asparagus per person.  Drizzle a little olive oil over everything, season with salt and pepper, give everything a quick mix using your hands, and throw those puppies in the oven.  They should take about twelve to fifteen minutes to cook.  You will know they are ready with the tomatoes are just starting to burst.

Next, prepare the sauce.  To a large bowl, add two big handfuls of cilantro, just torn with your hands into chunks, one jalapeno sliced into rings (if you aren’t a fan of spicy, remove the seeds before you slice up the pepper), two teaspoons of grated fresh ginger root (which I suggest purchasing a microplane to use.  They are the best, and can be used on cheese, garlic, nutmeg, or for zesting fruit), two cloves of garlic (which can also be grated on the microplane!), the juice of three limes, and four tablespoons of coconut aminos.  I like to use coconut aminos for this recipe because it adds that salty soy sauce taste, but it also adds a hint of sweetness.  If you don’t have coconut aminos you can always just substitute in soy sauce or tamari.  Whisk everything together and set aside.

To cook the steaks, heat a skillet over medium high heat.  Wait until the pan is good and hot before adding the steaks.  This will create a really nice crust to the steaks.  I like to actually time my steaks when cooking them.  Since these steaks were fairly thick, I let them go for three minutes per side, for a total of six minutes cooking time.  That resulted in a medium rare steak.  If you are more of a medium person, add a minute.  More of a rare person?  Subtract a minute.  If your steaks are thinner than three inches, subtract a minute.

Once you have cooked both sides, it is time to add the sauce.  Leave the pan on medium high heat and slowly drizzly the sauce into the pan and over the steaks.  The pan should be hot enough when the sauce hits the pan, it sizzles.  You are almost caramelizing the sauce for a minute.  Let it bubble around the steaks for about thirty seconds and then turn the heat off.  Let the pan sit while you prepare the plates.

For plate preparation, dice up half an avocado per person.  Make the pieces bite size chunks.  Lay two medallions onto each plate.  Place the roasted cherry tomatoes, asparagus, and avocado around the steak.  Pour the sauce over everything and garnish with a little fresh cilantro.

So, if you are looking for fresh twist on steak, give this recipe a try.  I love the heat you get from the jalapenos, the spicy little kick of the ginger, and the sweet hints from coconut aminos.  Enjoy!

Happy Hunting!

Seared Deer Steaks in a Cilantro, Lime, Jalapeno Sauce: Kick Summer Up a Notch!

Prep Time: 5 minutes

Cook Time: 23 minutes

Total Time: 28 minutes

2

Seared Deer Steaks in a Cilantro, Lime, Jalapeno Sauce: Kick Summer Up a Notch!

Ingredients

  • 4 deer steak medallions, about three inches thick
  • Cherry Tomatoes
  • Asparagus
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • Avocado
    Steak Sauce
  • 2 handfuls torn cilantro
  • 1 jalapeno, sliced
  • 1 inch piece ginger, grated
  • 2 cloves garlic, grated
  • 3 limes, juiced
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 4 tablespoons coconut aminos
  • salt and pepper

Instructions

  1. Cut deer steaks into about three inch thick medallions. Allow to rest at room temperature for fifteen minutes. Season liberally with salt and pepper.
  2. Place tomatoes and asparagus on a rimmed cookie sheet, coat with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Place to 400 degree preheated oven for fifteen minutes, or until tomatoes begin to burst.
  3. For the sauce, whisk together cilantro, jalapeno, ginger, garlic, limes, olive oil, and coconut aminos.
  4. Heat a pan over medium-high heat. Once the pan is preheated, place seasoned steaks down for three minutes per side.
  5. Pour sauce over cooked steaks, allow to come to a bubble for thirty seconds. Turn heat off.
  6. On a plate, set two steak medallions, four to five cherry tomatoes, asparagus, and diced avocado. Pour sauce over top and enjoy!
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Elk Guinness Hand Pies

“You gotta try your luck at least once a day, because you could be going around lucky all day and not even know it.” ~ Jimmy Dean

Every year for St. Patrick’s Day, I put a corned beef in the crock pot to slowly cook throughout the day, make a loaf of Irish soda bread filled with caraway seeds and raisins, and mix up a couple of green beers.  It is a St. Patty’s Day tradition around our house, even though we are not of Irish heritage.

This year, I wanted to create a few twists on traditional St Patrick’s Day menu items and substitute the meat with wild game. I started doing some research on customary Irish foods, and learned a few things that kind of flipped my world momentarily upside down.  First, in Ireland they do not traditionally eat corned beef on St. Patrick’s Day.  They usually serve lamb or bacon.  That really put a twist in my plans. Second, the green beer thing is not actually a thing in the St. Patrick’s Day celebrations in Ireland.  In fact, many of the traditions I have learned since I was a kid, like pinching anyone that did not don green, are customs and traditions that evolved in Irish-American cultures.

One of the biggest things I love about cooking is the connections created between the food and customs, traditions, or even just interesting facts that pop up.  While my research into traditional St. Patrick’s Day foods was not what I expected it to be, the mere task of looking up some ways to work differently with corned beef directed me into a full on discovery of how St. Patrick’s Day was founded, which traditions are from Ireland and which grew from Irish-American cultures, and even the different celebrations that occur around the world for St. Patrick’s Day.

For this recipe, I stuck with the Irish-American tradition of corned beef.  I love the flavor profile created in a corned beef.  It is a salty, sweet, and pickled taste.  I wanted to try that kind of seasoning on wild game.  So, with from a chunk of elk meat, some corned beef seasonings, and a dry stout beer brewed in Ireland, I made an elk hand pie.  This meal is a twist on two other meals: corned beef and cabbage, and Guinness pot pie.

To start, place a pound of potatoes in a large pot of water.  I used fingerling potatoes and kept the skins on.  You could also use red, Yukon, or russet potatoes.  I think a fun twist for next time will be to replace the potato with a sweet potato.  Also, you can peel the potatoes if you aren’t a fan of the skins.  Turn the heat to high and bring the potatoes to a boil.  Once the water is boiling, place a lid over the pot, turn the heat off, and allow the potatoes to cook for five minutes.  Set the timer for this part, because you only want to parboil, or partially cook, the potatoes.  For this dish, you want the potatoes to remain somewhat firm, not mushy, and also they will continue to cook more in the meat mixture and finally in the oven.  After five minutes, drain the potatoes and set them aside to cool down.

For the elk meat, I ran mine through a coarse grind one time.  For this recipe, I used the 3/8″ hole meat grinder plate.  It is also a good idea to have the meat at a relatively cold temperature, or even partially frozen, when grinding.  This will help to prevent the machine from pulverizing the meat, or as some people term it, “mashing” the meat through the plate.  I made a pound of ground elk for this recipe, and had enough mixture by the end to create about a dozen hand pies.  You could easily cut this recipe in half if you don’t want that many pies, but they freeze really well so I always make a big batch and eat the rest later.

Preheat a large skillet with one tablespoon of olive oil over medium-high heat.  Add a medium size onion, chopped into bite size pieces, and allow to sauté for three minutes.  Add two cups of shredded cabbage, season lightly with salt and pepper, and cook an additional five to seven minutes.  The cabbage should be soft by now, and the onions should be starting to turn translucent.  Remove the cabbage and onions from the pan and set aside.

To the already preheated skillet, drop in the pound of ground elk meat.  Season the meat with a teaspoon each of ground cloves, ground mustard seed, ginger, coriander, cinnamon, all spice, and dill weed.  Cook the elk until it is browned, about seven minutes.  While the meat is browning, dice up the now cooled potatoes into bite size pieces in preparation for adding to the skillet.

Deglaze the skillet with the bottle of Irish dry stout beer.  Also add in two tablespoons of Worcestershire sauce and return the cabbage and onions to the pan.  Add the diced potatoes as well.  Keep the heat high, and allow the beer to reduce down by half, which takes about five minutes. Turn off the skillet and let the mixture cool down.

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.  While waiting, roll out the pre-made pie crusts.  I rolled the dough a bit thinner so I could get more pies from the crusts.  If you like a thicker crust on your pies, simply buy a couple of boxes of the premade dough.  Use a biscuit cutter to make circles for the hand pies.  I actually don’t own a biscuit cutter, so I used a bowl and a knife.  A cup also works well in this situation.  Place the dough circles on an ungreased cookie sheet.  I lined my sheet with aluminum foil to make the clean-up a bit easier.  Pile each circle with a couple of spoonfuls of the meat mixture and then top with a second circle.  Pinch around the edges using a fork, poke a small vent in the top, and brush each pie with an egg wash.

Bake the pies in the oven for 12 minutes, until the tops are golden brown.

Well, I hope you enjoy this St. Patrick’s Day recipe with a twist on corned beef and cabbage.  The pies, with their flaky crusts, give hints of corned beef seasonings paired with the sweetness of cabbage.  Each bite is like a full meal, with potatoes, onions, meat, and cabbage.  Enjoy!

Happy Hunting!

 

Elk Guinness Hand Pies

Elk Guinness Hand Pies

Ingredients

  • 1 pound ground elk or deer meat
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 2 cups shredded cabbage
  • 1 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1 teaspoon coriander
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon all spice
  • 1 teaspoon dill
  • 1 teaspoon ground mustard seed
  • 1 bottle Irish stout beer, such as Guinness
  • 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 pound parboiled potatoes, diced bite size pieces
  • 1 package pastry dough

Instructions

  1. Ground elk or deer meat into coarse grind.
  2. Preheat large skillet with olive oil over medium high heat. Add diced onions and sauté for three minutes.
  3. Add cabbage, season with salt and pepper, and cook for five to seven minutes. Cook until cabbage and onions are soft.
  4. Remove cabbage and onions from skillet.
  5. Add ground elk and cook until just brown, about five minutes.
  6. Season ground elk with cloves, ginger, coriander, cinnamon, all spice, dill, and mustard seed. Season with salt. Cook additional two to three minutes.
  7. Deglaze the pan with beer.
  8. Add potatoes and cabbage back to pan.
  9. Add Worcestershire sauce.
  10. Cook until liquid has reduced by half, about five minutes.
  11. Turn off meat mixture and allow to cool.
  12. Cut pastry dough into circles using extra large biscuit cutter.
  13. Preheat oven to 400.
  14. Place half of circles on an ungreased baking sheet. Pile each circle with a couple spoonsful of the meat and cabbage mixture. Top each circle with second pastry second and pinch edges with fork.
  15. Brush each pastry egg wash. Cut small vent holes in the top of each pastry circle.
  16. Bake in oven for ten to twelve minutes, until tops of pastries are golden brown.
  17. Enjoy!!!!
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Whiskey Rosemary Cream Sauce over Deer Steak and Mushrooms

“The four characteristics of humanism are curiosity, a free mind, belief in good taste, and belief in the human race.” ~ E.M. Forster

Growing up, I hated mushrooms with a passion.  My dad loved them.  He would always order pizza with everything on it, including white button mushrooms.  I could smell those white button mushrooms before the box was even open.  And then I would complain, and whine, and moan, and let him know that not only had he ruined the pizza but my life as well.  You know, a typically six year-old meltdown that somehow starts with mushrooms and evolves to a young life being destroyed by the mere presence of mushrooms in the home.

My mom would tell me to just pick them off.  I would grumpily, using only two fingers, pull them off and place them as far away from my pizza slice as possible.

“I can still taste them,” I would whine.  “And see where they were on my pizza!”

My parents would ignore me.

Eventually, I would start to reluctantly eat my slice because I was hungry, and well because I was six and it was pizza.  What six year old can turn down pizza?  Everything would be going fine until I realized that not only were there mushrooms on this pizza, but there were also onions.  And I had just eaten one.  Return to complain, whine, moan mode with probably a little crying because my dad had “tricked” me into eating onions and my life was once again ruined.

Nowadays, I love mushrooms and onions.  I actually think of ways I can add them to my meal.  Six year-old me would definitely be red-faced scolding me right now, hands in little tight fists, and a massive melt-down just around the corner.  Luckily, she isn’t here, and I get to share this amazing, savory whiskey rosemary cream sauce over deer steak and mushrooms dish with you!

To start, select the cut of deer steak you want to serve for this dish.  I used tenderloin, but this dish works well with any steak from the deer.  Other suggestions I have are the back strap, the infraspinatus found in the shoulder of the deer, or a sirloin, which is cut from the hind quarter.  To help get a better sear on my steaks, I usually pat them with a paper towel quickly to remove any moisture on the outside of the steak.  Cut a clove of garlic in half and rub the cut side over the outside of the steaks.  Season liberally with salt and pepper and place in the hot pan, which is my favorite part of cooking steak.  I love that sizzling sound of the meat first hitting the pan.

Deer, like other wild game steaks, is best when cooked on the rare side of doneness.  Deer is a very lean meat, and without the extra fat on the steaks, like is found on beef, it tends to dry out quickly when cooked.  A well-done deer steak will be very tough and have an unpleasant texture, almost rubbery.  So, I suggest cooking deer steaks to medium-rare or less.  I like mine medium-rare and reach that cooking the steak about five minutes per side.

Once the steaks are finished cooking, plate them under a loosely constructed aluminum foil tent.  Allow the steaks to rest under the tent while you finish the cream sauce.  A proper meat resting, which is about ten minutes, allows the juices to reabsorb into the meat.  While cooking the meat, the moisture tends to move towards the surface of the steak, and if you immediately pull the meat from the heat source and cut into it, the juices will rush out of steak.  This resting time stops that from happening and results in a moist, juicy steak.

While the steaks are resting, add four tablespoons of butter to the skillet.  Once the butter is melted, drop in the diced onion and sauté for three minutes, allowing the onions to become soft.  Add the minced garlic and cook an additional two minutes.  Watch the garlic closely.  If it starts to brown, drop the temperature on the skillet, as browned garlic adds a bitter taste to the dish.

Time to add the mushrooms! Roughly chop your favorite mushroom and add it to the onions and garlic. I used shiitakes this time, but I have also prepared this meal with baby portabellas or cremini mushrooms.  Be sure to clean the mushrooms before using by taking a damp paper towel and gently rubbing the surface of the mushroom to remove any dirt.  Also, with the portabellas or cremini, pull the stems from the mushrooms before chopping.  Season the skillet with nutmeg, salt and pepper.  Cook the mushrooms with the garlic and onions for five minutes.

Once the mushrooms have cooked down a bit, remove the pan from the heat source and deglaze with a half cup of whiskey.  This is also one of those moments I love.  When the whiskey hits the pan, it sizzles! Such a great sound!  And I should mention that the kitchen will be smelling amazing at this point!  The aromas created from the whiskey, onions and mushrooms together is intoxicating, and if you weren’t hungry when you started cooking this meal, you will be after those smells start mingling around the kitchen.

Return the skillet to the heat source, and allow the whiskey to cook down for about two minutes.  Add the balsamic vinegar  and continue reducing the liquids for an additional two minutes.

Finally, add in 3/4 cup of cream, the minced fresh rosemary, and a tablespoon of Dijon mustard.  Give everything a quick stir, reduce the heat to medium-low, and allow the sauce to simmer for five minutes.  The sauce should be thick enough to coat the back of spoon.  It should be creamy and glossy.

To serve, slice the steaks against the grain into thick slabs, cover generously in the whiskey cream sauce, making sure to get a heaping serving of the mushrooms on each plate, and add a suitable side.  I like to add a side of asparagus because it pairs wonderfully with the cream sauce.  A side of mashed potatoes would also be delicious for absorbing some of the sauce.

I love this meal because it has simple flavors that highlight the tender, juicy deer steak.  The earthy hints of rosemary and mushrooms pair great with the flavor from the deer, and the onions and cream add a savory but almost slightly sweet hit to the dish.

Happy Hunting!

Whiskey Rosemary Cream Sauce over Deer Steak and Mushrooms

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook Time: 22 minutes

Total Time: 32 minutes

4 servings

Whiskey Rosemary Cream Sauce over Deer Steak and Mushrooms

Ingredients

  • 4 deer steaks (your choice of cut: filet, tenderloin, flat iron, etc)
  • 3 cloves garlic (mince two and leave the other whole)
  • 4 tablespoons butter
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 2 cups mushrooms chopped (your choice of mushroom: shiitake, portablella, etc)
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 cup whiskey
  • 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
  • 3/4 cup cream
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • 1 tablespoon minced fresh rosemary

Instructions

  1. Preheat a large skillet over medium-high heat.
  2. Prepare the steaks by taking the whole clove of garlic, cutting it in half, and rubbing the cut edge over the deer steaks. Season generously with salt and pepper.
  3. Place the steaks in the preheated pan and cook to medium-rare (or your preference). These steaks were somewhat thinner cuts, about 3/4 to a full inch thick, and I cooked them for two minutes per side.
  4. After steaks have cooked, tent them loosely under aluminum foil and allow to rest while you start the sauce.
  5. To the same pan the steaks were cooked in, add four tablespoon of butter and melt.
  6. Once the butter is bubbly and melted, add the diced onion. Allow to cook for three to four minutes.
  7. Add the minced garlic and cook an additional two minutes. Watch the garlic, if it starts to brown, drop the heat on the pan.
  8. Add the roughly chopped mushrooms and cook for five minutes. By this point, the mushrooms and onions should both be soft.
  9. Season the mixture with nutmeg, salt and pepper.
  10. Turn the heat off from the pan and pour in the half cup of whiskey. Allow to boil for two minutes and then add the balsamic vinegar. Boil gently an additional two minutes.
  11. Pour in the 3/4 cup of cream and the Dijon mustard. Stir and bring to a simmer. Add the rosemary.
  12. Allow the cream to reduce slight by simmering the mixture for five minutes.
  13. Slice the deer steak into thick chunks, cutting against the grain of the meat.
  14. To plate, arrange deer on serving platter and generously cover in whiskey cream sauce.
  15. Enjoy!
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Deer Eggs Benedict with a Tarragon Béarnaise Sauce

 

“It’s OK to have your eggs in one basket as long as you control what happens to that basket.” ~ Elon Musk

Those are truly great meals that you eat slow, share stories, and possibly go back for seconds, or thirds depending on how long you decide to wait before you make the effort to actually put on pants.

Breakfasts like those long Saturday morning ones seem like the perfect opportunity to share a wild game meal; however, I find that breakfast is the area I struggle the most with when using wild game.  If I do add deer or elk to the table, I tend to follow the same pattern each time: deer breakfast sausage.  I might get inventive and make a burrito from the sausage or some type of scramble, and don’t get me wrong, those are fantastic meals and I gobble up every satisfying bite, but sometimes I want to share something that is a little different, a little unexpected.

This past weekend, I awoke for my late Saturday morning breakfast, still in my pajamas, and decided it was time to try out a new wild game breakfast item.   I thought about how to best add wild game to the meal without getting too strange, and decided on taking one of my favorite classics and putting a wild game spin to it: the deer eggs benedict.

First popularized in New York, eggs benedict is a savory breakfast dish composed of a toasted English muffin topped with Canadian ham or bacon, a poached egg, and creamy Hollandaise sauce.  Many variations of the dish exist, including substituting the Hollandaise sauce for a Béarnaise sauce, and switching the ham for salmon, steak or chorizo, adding spinach, tomatoes, or avocado.  The meal base eggs benedict creates is a wonderful starting part for experimenting, especially when it comes to adding in some wild game.

Eggs benedict is the perfect lazy Saturday meal.  It is not a particularly difficult meal to pull together, but it does require a bit of time.  And honestly, it also makes quite the kitchen mess with the necessity for so many pots, pans, and utensils.  But that is what makes it the perfect Saturday breakfast, as there will be plenty of time to clean-up after this meal is shared, bellies are full, and maybe an early afternoon nap happens.

To start, pre-heat a skillet over medium-high heat.  Season your deer steaks liberally with salt and pepper.  Compared to beef, deer is a very lean meat, and when steaks are cooked to medium or well-done the texture tends to become very rubbery and chewy, for this reason,  I recommend eating deer rare or medium-rare.   For this benedict breakfast, I used deer tenderloin steaks that were about an inch and half thick., so I cooked each side for about four minutes and then tented the steaks under aluminum foil.  When you are ready to slice the meat, work across the grain and make about quarter to half inch slices.

While the steaks are resting, prepare the béarnaise sauce.  Traditionally, eggs benedict is served drizzled in Hollandaise sauce.  I switched the Hollandaise for Béarnaise in the this recipe.  Hollandaise and Béarnaise are both quite similar, as both are lusciously rich and creamy sauces with a cheerful yellow color.  The preparation base is the same for both sauces: eggs yolks emulsified in warm, melted butter and a hit of acid.  Where the sauces differ is the type of acid used and the addition of flavors.  Hollandaise gets it acid from lemon juice, and a slight heat is typically enhanced in the sauce with the addition of white pepper or cayenne.  Béarnaise sauce gets is acid from white wine vinegar, and it’s flavor profile is further developed with the addition of fresh herbs and shallots.  I love the combination of the lightly licorice flavored tarragon herb with deer, so I decided to make a tarragon béarnaise for this eggs benedict.

To create the Béarnaise sauce, melt two sticks of unsalted butter, or 1 cup.  Let the butter cool just slightly.  You want it to be warm enough to emulsify the egg yolks, but you don’t want it so hot that it actually cooks the egg yolks, which will result in a lumpy sauce.  Add egg yolks and the white wine vinegar to a blender and turn the blender on a medium speed.  Once the yolks are broken up and mixed a bit, slowly start drizzling in the warm butter.  As the butter and eggs start working together, the sauce should thicken.  Once all the butter is added, drop in the shallots, minced tarragon, and season with salt and pepper.  Let everything blend for a few more seconds.  I leave the sauce in the blender after I have prepared it, this way it will stay warm.

 

After the steaks are cooked and the Béarnaise sauce is ready, it is time to poach the eggs.  There are several egg poaching techniques out there.  Some people add vinegar to the water, other people poach in a shallow pan of water, and some even use a giant pot of boiling water.  The technique I am sharing is the easiest for me.  In a large pot, bring about five to six cups of water to a gentle boil.  Have your eggs broken into separate bowls or ramekins in preparation for addition to the boiling pot.  Using a large wooden spoon, create a whirlpool in the pot.  Drop the eggs one at time into the swirling water, and watch as the eggs fall apart and then, almost magically, start to pull together into perfectly poached eggs.  Allow the eggs to cook in the water for two and half minutes before removing with a slotted spoon.

 

Okay, after all that mess making, it is time to assemble the benedicts!  Toast a slice of sourdough bread and brush on a little butter.  To the buttered bread, add a thick, juicy slice of beefsteak tomato.  Top that with two or three thin slices of the deer steak.  Carefully balance the poached egg on top of the stack, and finally drizzle on a healthy pour of the Béarnaise sauce.

I love a beautifully cooked deer steak served with a side of potatoes or asparagus, but this deer eggs benedict really opened my eyes to all the possibilities of working with wild game.  Breakfast can be more than steak and eggs or breakfast burritos.  This meal is creamy and savory, with a hint of tartness, and even a little sweet from the tomato.  It makes for a great lazy Saturday breakfast that is sure to impress all your diners.  And it is pretty great for the chef as well!

Happy Hunting!

Deer Tenderloin Eggs Benedict with a Tarragon Béarnaise Sauce

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook Time: 8 minutes

Total Time: 18 minutes

4

Deer Tenderloin Eggs Benedict with a Tarragon Béarnaise Sauce

Ingredients

  • 2 deer steaks (your choice of cut, but I used tenderloin!)
  • 4 eggs
  • 4 slices of sourdough bread
  • 1 beefsteak tomato
    For Tarragon Béarnaise Sauce
  • 2 sticks (or 1 cup) butter, melted and still warm
  • 3 egg yolks
  • 1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
  • 1 minced shallot
  • 1 tablespoon minced fresh tarragon
  • salt and pepper to taste

Instructions

    For the deer steaks
  1. Preheat a large skillet to medium-high heat.
  2. Season the deer steak with salt and pepper.
  3. Place the steak in the preheated pan. Cook the steak to medium-rare. The time will depend on the thickness of the steak. For these steaks, which were between an inch and two inches thick, I cooked each side for four minutes.
  4. Remove the steak from the heat and light tent in tin foil, allowing the steak to properly rest.
    For the Tarragon Béarnaise
  1. Melt the two sticks of butter and let cool slightly. You don't want the butter bubbling hot, but you want it to still be warm.
  2. Place the egg yolks in a blender and pulse a few times to break them up.
  3. With the blender running, add the white wine vinegar and mix for a few seconds.
  4. With the blender running, slowly stream in the warm butter. Once all the butter is added, continue to blend for a minute.
  5. Add the fresh tarragon, and salt and pepper. Blend for another minute. Keep the sauce warm with the lid on the blender.
    For poached eggs
  1. In a large pot, bring to a light boil about three cups of water.
  2. Once the pot is gently boiling, use a large spoon to create a whirlpool in the water. With the water spinning, drop the cracked eggs, one at a time, into the pot.
  3. Allow the eggs to cook for two to two and half minutes. Remove using a slotted spoon
    For the Benedict
  1. Brush the sour dough bread slices lightly with olive oil and toast on a griddle until golden brown.
  2. Place a tomato slice on the toasted bread.
  3. Pile on a few slices of deer steak.
  4. Gently rest the poached egg to the stack.
  5. Cover generously with tarragon béarnaise sauce.
  6. Enjoy!
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Asian Style Elk Meatballs: A Perfect Party Appetizer

“I wanted to be a skinny little ballerina but I was a voluptuous little Italian girl whose dad had meatballs on the table every night.” ~ Lady Gaga

I am not always the best pre-planner. If I am headed on vacation, I am the one packing my bags thirty minutes before we are scheduled to leave.  I tend to forget essentials, you know, like my tooth brush.  I do not know why I have to wait until thirty minutes before our scheduled departure to start preparing for my trip, but I do it every time.  And every time, as I am realizing I don’t have any clean socks to pack, because that would require a pre-check of my dresser drawers to ensure there are socks available for my trip, I curse myself for procrastinating.  You would think I would learn my lesson.  Arriving at your destination without pants to wear can be quite unfortunate.  But every vacation, no matter what, I still find myself packing that bag thirty minutes before jumping in the car and hastily roaring away, most likely with a pair of dirty socks, no toothbrush, and pant-less.

This incredible skill of procrastination is also useful in other situations.  This past New Year’s Eve, I was invited to a late night celebration.  I was invited well over a week in advance, and was told to bring three simple things: myself, a drink to share, and an appetizer dish to share.  Guess what was ready with an hour before party time?  Nothing. Not my drink to share, not my appetizer dish, and certainly not myself.

Realizing people would probably not care if I stopped at the store and grabbed a bottle of some drink to share and that I was dressed like a slob (with dirty socks of course), I did think people would notice if I arrived with no appetizer in hand.  I contemplated buying one of those pre-made vegetable or meat and cheese trays, but I figured my fellow procrastinators would also devise this plan and arrive with the same appetizer.

I opened my refrigerator in search of something to throw together, and luck would have it, there was a pack of elk chunk waiting to become my quick, throw together New Year’s Eve appetizer.  I quickly ran the chunk through my meat grinder.  It resulted in about a pound of ground elk.  To the ground elk, I added a cup of panko bread crumbs, some fresh chopped parsley, and a little nutmeg.  I also seasoned generously with salt and pepper.  I also added in one beaten egg and two tablespoons of milk.

I find the best tactic for mixing meatballs is to just dig right in with your hands.  This gets everything incorporated really thoroughly.  Also, it allows you to test the consistency of the meatballs.  If the meatballs feel too wet and things aren’t really sticking together, add more panko bread crumbs.  If things feel to dry, add in more milk.

Since this was a quick throw together appetizer, I used what was available in my pantry to make my meatballs.  If you don’t have, or maybe you don’t like, panko bread crumbs, traditional bread crumbs will also work.  Also, I don’t always have fresh parsley on hand.  I actually never have it on hand, but for some reason on this particular evening I did.  If you don’t have fresh parsley, dried would also work.  You would only need a tablespoon of dried parsley instead of a quarter cup like with the fresh.

Roll the meatballs into balls using about a tablespoon of the meat mixture.  Place them on an ungreased baking sheet.  For easier clean-up, line the sheet with aluminum foil.  Bake the meatballs in a 400 degree oven for about 12 minutes.  The meatballs should be slightly browned and your kitchen should smell delicious!

While the meatballs are roasting away, pull out a crockpot.  Set the crockpot on low heat.

To the pot, add 3/4 to 1 cup of hoisin sauce.  I started with 3/4 of a cup and then added more at the end of I wanted more of the hoisin flavor to stand out.  A beautiful dark amber color, hoisin is a sweet and salty sauce commonly used in Chinese cuisine.  It is a pungent sauce packed with a ton of flavor, so start with less and you can always add more.

To the hoisin, add one tablespoon of soy sauce, a teaspoon of sesame seed oil, two cloves of minced garlic, and a teaspoon of ground ginger. To help liven up the flavor of the spices in the hoisin sauce, add a tablespoon or two of rice wine vinegar.  Give everything a stir and a quick taste.  The sauce should taste salty and a bit spicy.  Now it is time develop the sweetness of this sauce.  I always taste things before I start adding my sweetener to see where things are at.  This is important with the hoisin because it also adds sweetness to the dish, and you don’t want the meatballs tasting like lollipops!  Anyway, slowly add the honey in a drizzle at a time, tasting as you go, until the sauce is where you want it.  If you desire a bit more salt, add a little more soy sauce.  If you want more hoisin flavor, drizzle some more of that in.  I ended up with about a tablespoon of honey at the end.

After the meatballs are done cooking, add them to the hoisin sauce, making sure to coat all the meatballs with the sauce, and you are ready to party!  I took the entire crockpot to the gathering with me, this way everything stayed nice and warm.  To serve the meatballs, sprinkle a few sesame seeds on top.

Meatballs are a great party appetizer.  A pound of meat and a few simple ingredients make a deliciously quick treat.  They can be served using only toothpicks, so there is no need for utensils or plates.  They can also be made in advance and then just added to the crock-pot to heat back up.

These salty and sweet Asian-style meatballs received lots of praise at the party, and no one suspected they were a product of procrastination.

 

Asian Style Elk Meatballs: A Perfect Party Appetizer

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook Time: 22 minutes

Total Time: 32 minutes

20-25 meatballs

Asian Style Elk Meatballs: A Perfect Party Appetizer

Ingredients

    For the Meatballs
  • 1 pound ground elk
  • 1 cup panko bread crumbs (more as needed)
  • 1/4 cup fresh chopped parsley
  • 1 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 2 tablespoons milk
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • Salt and pepper to taste
    For Hoisin Sauce
  • 3/4 to 1 cup hoisin sauce
  • 1-2 tablespoons rice wine vinegar
  • 1 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 1 teaspoon sesame seed oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1 tablespoon honey

Instructions

    For Meatballs
  1. Preheat the oven to 400. For easier clean up, line a baking sheet with aluminum foil.
  2. In a large bowl, mix together the ground elk, panko bread crumbs, parsley, nutmeg, milk, beaten egg, and salt and pepper. Use your hands to thoroughly incorporate all the ingredients. If meatballs seem to wet, add more panko. If meatballs feel to dry, add more milk.
  3. With around a tablespoon size scoop of meat, rolls the meatballs and place on the baking sheet.
  4. Bake in oven for 12 minutes, until meatballs are browned.
    For Hoisin Sauce
  1. Turn the slow cooker on low.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk together the hoisin, rice vinegar, soy sauce , sesame seed oil, garlic, ginger, and honey. Taste to see if it is as sweet or salty as you desire. If you want it a bit sweeter, add a little more hoisin or honey. If you want things a bit saltier add a little more soy sauce. If you want more acid, add a little more vinegar.
  3. Once things taste how you want it, pour the bowl into the crock pot. Add the meatballs.
  4. Allow meatballs to cook in crock pot for ten minutes before serving so everything is evenly warm. Garnish meatballs with sesame seeds and serve using toothpicks!
  5. Enjoy!
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Whiskey Elk Backstrap Steaks

henrymountainswebsize“You know what my drink is? Jack Daniel’s. Yes, that is a wild man drink. That should come with bail money, you know what I’m saying? Because on Jack, you don’t know where you’re going to end up, but you know when you get there, you won’t be wearing any pants.” ~ Dave Attell

You know that wonderful feeling when you pull out a coat or pair of pants you have not worn in a really long time and find money stashed in the pocket? You can pull out a $20 and you are on top of the world, or even pull out a $1 and think, “It’s gonna be a good day!” I love that feeling. I can’t accurately put into words how excited I get finding money in long forgotten places.

I had that feeling last week.  But it wasn’t evoked by a crumpled old bill hiding in my pocket. It was from the freezer. I was feeling a bit overwhelmed trying to figure out something to make to eat. Sometimes that happens. I am in the mood for something different, but nothing quite seems right or everything sounds too hard to make. I usually end up getting flustered and in a frantic attempt to pull myself out of my indecisive state end up making grilled cheese. That didn’t happen this time. Instead, when I opened the freezer sitting on the top shell, somehow forgotten, was a pack of elk back strap. I could not believe it had been missed! I thought all that was left was roasts or large chunks suitable for sausage or stews.

It was exactly like finding that $20 bill in a pair of old jeans.

And instead of having a dinner of canned tomato soup and grilled cheese sandwiches, I sat down to a fantastic, on-top-of-world feeling, perfectly marinated and cooked elk back strap steak dinner. It was a good day!

I was lucky to find my hidden elk back strap to use for this recipe, but deer or antelope would also work for this dish. Also, if you don’t have back strap on hand, probably because you are like me and ate it all immediately, other cuts that would work great for this recipe include: tenderloin (if you have that on hand, which I never do because it is always my first meal after my harvest and I always make a simple steak and eggs meal to share with everyone who helped me during the hunt), top sirloin (which is found in the hind quarter of the animal), and the flank steak (which is also called the infraspinatus muscle, and I think is greatly under-utilized).

While this is an easy meal to throw together, it does require a little bit of pre-planning in order to properly marinade the meat.  The meat needs at least four hours to sit in the marinade. To make this sweet and smoky whiskey flavored marinade, grab a medium-sized bowl and whisk together 1/2 cup of your favorite sipping whiskey, 1/2 cup of soy sauce, 1 tablespoon of olive oil, a heaping tablespoon of Dijon style mustard (I always cheat and add a little more when I use Dijon mustard because I love that tangy flavor it adds), a quarter cup of honey, 2 cloves of minced garlic, and some fresh cracked black pepper.

whiskeysteakmarinade

Lay the steaks into a large shallow pan and pour in the marinade. Throw a little plastic wrap over the dish, and toss that baby in the fridge. After two hours, flip the steaks over so both sides can enjoy equal time bathing in that delicious marinade.

whiskeysteakmarinating

Once the steaks are done marinating, pull them out of their soaking bath and let them rest on a plate for ten or fifteen minutes. This creates a little more even cooking of the meat if the temperature of the steak is consistent throughout. Also, I like to let the marinade dry out a bit on the surface of the meat, as it creates a bit more of a sticky or somewhat crunchy texture to the outside of the steak.

Get the grilling pan nice and hot. You want the steak to make that beautiful sizzling sound when it hits the pan. You know that sound, that sharp crackling sound when the steak hits the pan and then steam immediately flows off the steak. (Love that moment!) I usually test if my pan is hot enough by sprinkling a little bit of water on the pan. If it starts to sizzle upon contact, I know the pan is hot enough.

whiskeysteakcooking

Drop the steak into the preheated pan and allow it to cook for six to eight minutes on the first side. Try not to move the steak immediately after it first touches the pan. In that first minute or two, the meat tends to grab onto the hot pan and will tear if you try and move it. Once the first side of cooked, flip the steak and cook the second side an additional six to eight minutes. This should result in a medium rare steak. If you are more of a medium to well-done steak person, add a few minutes to each side. If you are a fan of the rare steak, subtract a minute or two per side. Transfer the steak to a plate and allow it to rest before slicing for about five minutes. Allowing the meat to rest is important because it creates a juicier and tastier slice of meat. Also, when it is piping hot and you cut into the steak it really just tears the whole thing up and makes things look not so pretty.

whiskeysteakfinalplate

Well, that is it for this super amazing meal! I served my steak with a side of grilled asparagus. Other fantastic sides would include potatoes, green beans, corn, a simple salad, crusty bread, wild rice, or whatever else your imagination can come up with.

Happy Hunting!

Whiskey Elk Backstrap Steaks

Whiskey Elk Backstrap Steaks

Ingredients

  • 4 elk back strap steaks (about eight ounces each)
  • 1/2 cup favorite whiskey
  • 1/2 cup soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • pepper to taste

Instructions

  1. In large, shallow dish lay out steaks.
  2. In medium bowl, whisk together whiskey, soy sauce, olive oil, Dijon mustard, honey, garlic, and pepper. Pour over steaks and cover with plastic wrap. Allow at least four hours in the refrigerator, flipping the steaks half way through.
  3. Remove steaks from marinade and allow to rest at room temperature for fifteen minutes.
  4. Heat grilling pan over high heat.
  5. Add steaks to pan and cook 6 to 8 minutes per side.
  6. Let meat rest for five minutes before slicing.
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Elk Shepherd’s Pie: Dutch Oven Style

shepherdspiescoop
That is shepherd’s pie in all its glory right there: meat, veggies, potatoes, and ooey, gooey cheese!

“I do hunt, and I do fish, and I don’t apologize to anybody for hunting and fishing.” ~ Norman Schwarzkopf

I never had shepherd’s pie as a kid.  My mom never made it. No grandmother on either side of my family passed along their secret ingredient that made their shepherd’s pie a family favorite, requested for any special occasion.  Growing up, the closest I had to shepherd’s pie was when my mom would split a hot dog in half down the center, place it on a baking sheet, pile on a mound of mashed potatoes, sprinkle on cheddar cheese, and melt it under the broiler.  Not exactly shepherd’s pie, but I see some similarities I guess: meat, potatoes, cheese.

I wasn’t introduced to shepherd’s pie until I graduated high school.  Over a college break, I stayed with a friend’s family and we had it for dinner.  I immediately was a fan of the gravy soaked beef with vegetables under a dome of potatoes and cheese.  I was informed then that this meal was a family favorite, ever requested by aunts, uncles, and cousins when they came to visit.  I was secretly a little angry at my own family for trying to pass off hot dogs as an acceptable substitute.  Trust me, aunts and uncles weren’t requesting hot dogs as a special treat when visiting my home growing up.

Since then, I have prepared shepherd’s pie many times and experimented with different flavor and texture combinations.  I have used different meat bases: elk, deer, pronghorn, beef, lamb, buffalo.  I have manipulated the gravy from cream-of-this to cream-of-that or even gone broth or wine based.  I’ve switched up the vegetables: corn, celery, carrots, maybe a little cubed sweet potato.  Once, I even used mashed turnips in place of the mashed potatoes to see if anyone would notice.  For the record, they did, and not really in a good way.  The only thing I always keeps the same is a big pile of cheese to finish everything off.

This recipe is a double bonus; it is a wild game dish, and it is a dutch oven recipe that is perfect for your hunting camp!  To start, light your coals.  I use a charcoal chimney when I am camping.  They heat the coals quickly, and the chimney is easy to use.  Simply pour the desired number of charcoal briquettes in the top, wad up a few pieces of newspaper, stuff them under the chimney, and light the newspaper.  The chimney should start to smoke and the coals should be ready in about 15 minutes.  You can tell they are ready to go when the top layer of coals start to turn to ash around the edges.

shepherdspieelkFor this recipe, I used a 12″ oven, but a 14″ would also work fine.  Place the oven over a fairly large number of coals, like 20 -25.  You want to get the oven as hot as you can in order to fry the meat.  You could also use a gas camp stove for this part, which would save on the number of coals needed for the entire recipe.

Drop in a pound of ground elk meat to the oven.  I used my homemade elk burger for this recipe, which is simply a 1/4 pound of bacon ends ground with 3/4 pound of elk.  I like the bacon because it adds a hint of bacon flavor to the burger but still the perfect amount of fat.  Brown the meat, which takes about five to seven minutes.  About half way through the meat cooking, throw in the diced carrots, onion, and celery.  You want them to cook until they are soft.  Once the vegetables are soft, add two or three tablespoons of tomato paste.  Season the pot with salt and pepper to your liking.

shepherdspievegetables

Okay, it is now gravy time!  With the pot still hot, pour in a cup of red wine.  You can use whatever type of wine you prefer or have on hand.  I used pinot noir this time because I wanted to have a glass of that wine with my dinner, but merlot or cabernet would also be great.  Let the wine reduce down by half and then add two cups of beef stock to the pot.  Continue to cook over medium high heat and allow this to start to reduce down, which can take around ten minutes.

shepherdspiecheeseWhile the beef stock is reducing, in a large pot of water boil two pounds of potatoes.  I used a Yukon potato, but you could use russet or red potatoes too.  Another great option when camping would also be the boxed instant mashed potatoes.  These would eliminate the need to boil a pot of water and cook the actual potatoes.  Boxed instant potatoes simply require adding boiling water to dehydrated potato flakes.  Another option would be to make the mashed potatoes at home and just bring them along.  You will heat them up when you melt the cheese, so this option works just as well as any.

To the potatoes, add a quarter cup of butter and a quarter cup of milk or cream.  You could also add a couple tablespoons of sour cream, if you so desire.  Be sure to salt and pepper the potatoes.

Once the stock has reduced down, pour in the can of corn.  Spread the mashed potatoes over the top of the elk mixture, making sure to reach all the corners of the pot, and sprinkle on a cup of the cheese of your choice. I tend to use cheddar cheese when I make shepherd’s pie, but I went with a Monterey Jack for this recipe, thinking it would pair better with the red wine.  If you are cooking over coals, remove about half the coals, leaving behind 12-14 on the bottom.  If you cooked your meat over a camp stove, set out 12-14 coals for your oven to now sit on.  Place 15-20 coals on the top of the oven.  Let the shepherd’s pie cook for fifteen minutes, giving enough time to melt the cheese, heat the mixture thoroughly, and soften the corn.

shepherdspiefinalplate

Shepherd’s pie is comfort food at it’s best, and this dutch oven version allows you to bring comfort food straight to the outdoors.  Perfect for sharing around the campfire, this meal is hearty with fluffy cheese covered mashed potatoes, and a little bit sweet from the carrots, corn, and touch of red wine.  The elk definitely shines as the star of this dish!  Enjoy!

Happy Hunting!

Elk Shepherd's Pie: Dutch Oven Style!

Elk Shepherd's Pie: Dutch Oven Style!

Ingredients

  • 1 pound ground elk
  • 2-3 stalks celery, diced
  • 2 carrots, diced
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 1/4 cup tomato paste
  • 1 cup red wine
  • 2 cups beef stock
  • 2 pounds potatoes
  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 1/2 cup milk or cream
  • 1 can corn
  • 1 cup shredded cheese of choice

Instructions

  1. Start coals for dutch oven.
  2. In large pot add potatoes, cut into quarters, and boil.
  3. In dutch oven over medium-high heat, cook ground elk.
  4. Add diced celery, onion, and carrots, cook until soft.
  5. Add tomato paste and stir. Season with salt and pepper.
  6. Pour in red wine and reduce by half, about five minutes.
  7. Add beef stock and continue to reduce, about ten minutes.
  8. When potatoes are soft, about 15 minutes, mash and add butter and milk. Season with salt and pepper.
  9. Once stock has reduced, add the can of corn.
  10. Spread mashed potatoes over elk mixture, covering completely. Sprinkle on cheese.
  11. Cook in dutch oven over 12-14 coals on bottom and 15-20 coals on top for 10 minutes, until cheese has melted.
  12. Enjoy!
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