After spending almost 15 years as a vegetarian (five of those years as Vegan), I was disappointed to learn that due to health issues I would need to consume a greater amount of proteins and amino acids. Eating meat was something which I had to literally re-learn. My childhood remembrances of eating “wild game” meats was not something I thought I would ever consider when I took up the life of an omnivore once again, but I found several of the wild game meats to be much more palatable than what I had remembered them to be, specifically Elk and Bison.
Since we do not live in an area which is the habitat of either of these, I do not get the opportunity to consume wild game nearly as much as many other meats that you find in your local grocery. There are numerous websites however that do sell both Elk and Bison, along with numerous other meats which are labeled exotic. So if you ever do feel like walking on the wild side for a meal, I would definitely recommend you first start out with Elk.
Elk is one of the lowest fat red meats that can be found. It is lower in fat and cholesterol than beef, chicken, turkey, and pork. It also has a wonderful rich taste that likens it to a good piece of beef. It is incredibly high in iron, and can be used any way that beef can be used.
This recipe, comments, and photos are courtesy of Cynthia Detterick-Pineda of Andrews, TX.
This is a very simple Elk recipe which comes from my husband’s grandmother, Felipa Barrera. I took the liberty of adding a different spice as a dry rub than the salt, pepper, and chiles which she uses, but the result is virtually identical to her recipe.
We were lucky enough to have this last month while visiting my husband’s grandparent’s home in New Mexico. A neighbor had taken down an Elk not long before our visit, and with Elk being rather large animals, had opted.
Photo on the right is Felipa Barrera, my husband’s grandmother who lives in New Mexico. She is 93 years old and still does all the cooking in her home, so she must be eating something right!
- 1 pound Elk meat, cubed (Bison, Venison, and even beef or pork can be substituted)
- 1 (31.2-ounce) package Achiote Rojo*
- 2 tablespoons vegetable oil (omit if using beef)**
- 1/2 cup warm water or vegetable stock
- Pipian sauce (also available in most markets in the ethnic food aisle)***
Cut Elk meat into 1-inch square cubes. In a large bowl, toss the cut-up meat with the Achiote Rojo to coat. Cover and place in refrigerator for approximately 20 minutes.
In a cast-iron Dutch oven, or a large frying pan, heat the vegetable oil over medium-high heat. Add the cubed Elk meat and sear it quickly, turning so all sides are cooked.
Adjust heat to low and add water or vegetable stock, stirring to mix. Allow to simmer over low heat for 1 hour, stirring only once or twice in this time and checking to make certain there is adequate liquid in the pan to keep the meat from sticking and burning the bottom. When done, remove from heat.
Serves about 6.
* Achiote Rojo is a blend of Mayan spices most commonly used for the dish Cochinita Pibil (Cochinita is a suckling pig; Pibil is Mayan for to bury). It is a flavorful combination of annatto, Mexican oregano, cumin, clove, cinnamon, black pepper, allspice, garlic and salt. Usually available at most large grocery stores in the ethnic food section.
** Elk requires the vegetable oil to be added since it is such a lean meat. If you are using beef, pork or any other meat with a higher fat content, the meat will sear well without adding any extra oil.
*** Pipian sauce is a piquant Mexican sauce made of ground pumpkin seeds, nuts, spices, and chiles. It is part of a larger family of ground sauces known as moles. This sauce is also called Green Pumpkin Seed Sauce. Usually available at most large grocery stores in the ethnic food section.