Elk Steaks with Chipotle Potato Puree

June 17, 2013

Elk steak with okra and chipotle potatoes

A few weeks ago I found a surprise on my doorstep – a cooler full of elk! A friend who has enjoyed more than a couple of dinners from the Madd Hatter’s kitchen thought I would enjoy this bounty from the Rocky Mountain states, and he was right. Surprisingly, it’s not a meat I’ve had the privilege to try before, so a little research was needed before I decided to embark upon my elk feast.

Elk is a very lean, red meat. At first glance when I opened the cooler, the coloring of the meat reminded me of bison or venison, both of which have little fat to add flavor to the meat, and the latter having a much more gamey taste. After a little reading through the information Jackson Hole Buffalo Meat Company sent with the elk, I decided it must be more similar to bison meat. Thus I developed a flavorful marinade that would bring in some extra flavor where the fat was missing, but wouldn’t mask the mild, sweet flavor of the meat, which might have been needed if it were more gamey.

I recently added a new flavor to my lineup of olive oils from the Olive Bar – a chipotle olive oil that has a definite kick to it! With this as my base, I began to build on the flavors that I thought would pair nicely with a syrah, as I had decided this is what I would serve with the elk. What I ended up with was one part Southwest, one part Southern, with a sprinkling of Asian spice thrown in for good measure. And might I say, I wouldn’t change a thing about this marinade. It was the perfect balance of spices not only for the elk, but for the 2004 Clautiere Vineyard’s Estate Mon Rouge I paired with it.

Of course, girl cannot live on elk and wine alone. Wait; what?! Who is this talking? Okay, maybe she can, but to round out this plate and make it a meal, I decided on two simple sides – a potato puree infused with that spicy chipotle olive oil, and sauteed okra, which needed nary a spice with everything else going on on the plate. The result: perfectly satisfying. The meat was the most tender I’ve ever had, the potatoes will be happening with many more meals, the okra perfectly cooked, and the wine super mellow at 9 years of age.

Elk Steaks
Serves 2
1/2 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
1/8 teaspoon freshly grated star anise
1 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
2 teaspoons grated orange peel
1/2 teaspoon paprika
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 cup chipotle olive oil
1 tablespoon molasses
Olive oil, as needed
2 elk t-bones

Combine all ingredients from black pepper to molasses in a small dish (I used a 9×9 baking dish), and whisk to combine. You will want the marinade to be at least 1/4 inch deep, so add more olive oil if needed to make this happen. Coat the elk steaks with the marinade, and leave to marinate for at least 4 hours in the refrigerator, turning once if possible.

Remove elk steaks from refrigerator 30 minutes prior to cooking. Heat a grill or grill pan to a high heat, and sear the steak on each side for 1 minute. Turn the heat down to low and continue cooking for 1 to 2 minutes, until the steak reaches a rare to medium rare doneness. Let rest for 5 minutes, then serve immediately.

Note: The quick searing and short cooking time of this is needed since the elk meat has little to no fat to insulate it from the heat. Cook it for too long and you’ll have a tough, flavorless piece of meat. My total cooking time on the gas grill was just shy of 3 minutes and I would say the meat turned out a rare medium rare.

Chipotle potato puree
Serves 2
1 potato, peeled and cubed
1/4 cup chipotle olive oil, more if needed
1/4 teaspoon fresh thyme, chopped
white pepper & sea salt

Boil the potato in salted water until tender, about 15 to 20 minutes. Drain water, and push the potato through a ricer back into the pot. Dry out the potato a bit over a low heat, and add the olive oil, thyme, and salt and pepper to taste (I used 2 generous pinches of white pepper). Whip the potatoes with a whisk attachement on an immersion blender, stand mixer, or hand held mixer until the potatoes are a creamy, smooth consistency. If needed, add more olive oil to achieve this consistency.

Sauteed okra
Serves 2
3 cups okra, washed and thoroughly dried
Olive oil

Ensure your okra is thoroughly dried to keep the sliminess of the vegetable to a minimum. The best way to do this is to wash the okra the night before you plan to use it, and lay it out to dry on a dish towel in a single layer.

When ready to cook the okra, slice and discard the tops (stems) and tips, and slice the okra into 2 to 3 pieces (I keep it simple and usually do only 1 slice, unless it is a really big piece of okra). Wipe the knife as needed to keep the sliminess to a minimum.

Heat oil over medium heat in a saute pan. Add the okra and season with a bit of salt. Cook until okra is tender, about 5 to 7 minutes. Remove and keep warm with a tented & vented piece of aluminum foil until ready to serve.

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