Elk backstrap. It doesn't get much better, right? Wrong. Top a perfectly medium-rare elk backstrap with savory mushrooms simmered in red wine with fresh herbs and now we're talking. If you want to make a meal to impress without a lot of extra work, keep reading!
Why This Recipe Works:
An elk steak seared perfectly in a cast iron pan can't be beat. But once you take the steak out of the pan, what happens to all the delicious flavor left in the pan? You could wash it out and move on, or you could create something delicious in the time it takes your steak to rest. All you need are your favorite mushrooms, butter, fresh herbs, and red wine to take your steak game to the next level. The mushrooms soak up the flavors from the steak while also absorbing the sweetness of reduced red wine and earthiness of fresh herbs. These mushrooms make the perfect steak topping that's sure to impress. And I promise they're super easy to make!
- Elk Backstrap: This recipe uses elk backstrap but you can use any steak cut you'd like!
- Mushrooms: You can substitute your favorite mushrooms for the cremini mushrooms.
- Red Wine: Do you ever open a bottle of red wine that isn't that great to drink? Don't toss it! Pour it into a jar and refrigerate it for a rainy day. You'll be happy to have it on hand for this recipe!
- Cast Iron Pan: While you can use any pan you'd like to cook this steak, a cast iron pan is your best bet for achieving the perfect crust on the outside while keeping the inside medium-rare.
Step by Step Instructions:
How To Cook Elk Steak in a Cast Iron Pan:
Elk steaks (and all steaks for that matter) are meant to be cooked in a cast iron pan. The crust you get from a ripping hot pan is unmatched by any other cooking method. Follow the instructions below for the perfect cast iron steak!
Pro Tip: Patting your steak dry with paper towels before cooking is the key to achieving the perfect crust on the outside. The drier the surface is, the better!
How to Make Red Wine Mushrooms:
You should always let your steak rest for at least 10 minutes before cutting into it. So why not use that time to make something delicious to top your steak with? These mushrooms soak up all the flavorful steak goodness from the pan. Then you add more flavor with fresh herbs and reduced red wine. They're the perfect topping for the perfect steak.
Pro Tip: I always keep a jar of red wine in the fridge from bottles that I didn't love for drinking. Even if it's not a great drinking wine, you can still cook with it!
Putting it All Together:
Your steak is perfectly cooked and your mushrooms are looking gorgeous, what's left to do? Not much! Slice up that steak, top it with the mushrooms, and drizzle a little pan sauce over the top. Pour a glass of your favorite red wine and dig in. Enjoy!
Elk is typically a very mild game meat. It tastes similar to venison (or deer meat) but has a rich meaty flavor with a tender texture if cared for and cooked properly.
Elk meat is very lean and can become tough if it's overcooked. Elk steak should be cooked medium-rare to rare to reserve the moisture and tenderness of the meat.
Elk meat can have a stronger flavor depending on the animal it came from, how it was cared for, prepared etc. Allowing the meat to thaw in a paper towel-lined bowl can help remove a lot of off flavors.
Other Steak Recipes to Try:
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Elk Backstrap with Red Wine Mushrooms
- 12 oz elk backstrap (or venison, moose, antelope, etc.)
- salt and pepper, to taste
- 1 tablespoon pork lard
- 8 oz cremini mushrooms, sliced
- 1 tablespoon salted butter
- 2 sprigs fresh rosemary
- ½ cup red wine
- Pat steak dry with paper towels. Season all over with salt and pepper.
- Heat a cast iron skillet over medium-high heat. Once pan is hot but not smoking, add lard and swirl to coat pan.
- Place steak into pan and cook for 4 minutes or until bottom of steak develops a nice crust without overcooking the bottom half of the steak.
- Flip and cook an additional 4 minutes or until internal temperature is 115-120°F for medium-rare. If the sides of the steak looks raw, sear each side for 20-30 seconds.
- Remove steak to a plate to rest for at least 10 minutes. This is arguably the most important step in cooking a perfectly juicy steak.
- While steak is resting, cook mushrooms. Add mushrooms to hot pan. Don't clean the pan before adding the mushrooms. Cook for 3-5 minutes or until the mushrooms release their liquid and reabsorb it.
- Add butter and rosemary sprigs to mushrooms. Stir to melt the butter, about 1 minute.
- Add in red wine and cook for 4-5 minutes, or until wine is reduced and there is a small amount of sauce in the pan. Taste the mushrooms and add salt and pepper if needed. They may already have enough from what was left in the pan from cooking the steak.
- Slice steak into ½" slices and serve with mushrooms on top. If you have any sauce left in the pan, drizzle it over the steak. Enjoy!
- Patting the steak dry with paper towels helps achieve the perfect crust on the outside of the steak.
- If you come across a bottle of wine you're not too fond of drinking, save it in the fridge and use it for recipes like this!
- Allowing the mushrooms to release their liquid and reabsorb it without adding cooking fat intensifies the flavor of the mushrooms and leads to a more delicious finished product.
Make it with whitetail backstrap. Absolutely delicious and not difficult to make.