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ELK STEAK. Need I say more? Elk is by far my favorite wild game meat and this is one of my absolute favorite steak recipes. It's been a few years since we've had elk in the freezer and this year we were fortunate enough to bring home TWO cow elk. Elk is such a special meat to our family so I had to come up with something really special to honor it properly. But don't be afraid of this recipe. Even though it looks fancy, it's actually super simple to make! If you're looking for fresh ideas for your steak, this recipe is for you!
- Elk Steaks
- Lard (or other cooking fat)
- Salted Butter (preferably Irish butter)
- Blue Cheese Crumbles
- Fresh Thyme
- Fresh Sage
How to cook a perfect elk (or venison) steak:
To cook a perfect elk steak, you only need a few simple things: steak (obviously), lard, salt, pepper, paper towels, a cast iron pan, and a good digital thermometer. There is a wide array of advice regarding cooking fats but I find lard to be the best for wild game because it helps achieve a nice crust while adding great flavor to the steak. Cast iron pans are great for cooking steak because they hold heat well. Having a really hot pan is also essential for developing a crust on your steak.
If you have good quality meat, all you need to season it with is salt and pepper. Ok, this recipe adds some more flavor after the fact but the steak is still amazing on its own! Last, a they hold heat well. Having a really hot pan is also essential for developing a crust on your steak. If you have good quality meat, all you need to season it with is salt and pepper. Ok, this recipe adds some more flavor after the fact but the steak is still amazing on its own! Last, a digital thermometer is a great investment to ensure consistent results in temperature. For medium-rare to rare, an internal temperature of 120 degrees F is perfect.
Ok, now that you have what you need, let's get cooking! The first step to achieving a perfect crust is to pat the steaks dry with paper towels. Excess moisture can prevent caramelization so get it as dry as you can! Season the meat just before cooking. Salt draws the moisture out of the meat if it sits for too long. You want the outside to be dry but the inside should still be moist and tender. Get your pan good and hot, add in a tablespoon or so of lard, and set your steaks in the pan.
Cooking time depends largely on the shape, size and thickness of your steak but try not to peek for at least 2 minutes. You can watch the steak cook from the bottom up so use your best judgement and flip it when the brown part starts creeping up the side of the meat. Flip it and test the temperature about 1 minute after cooking the other side. Move the steaks to a plate or cutting board when the internal temperature reaches 120 degrees F. Let them rest for at least 10 minutes to keep the juices in. If using compound butter, place it on top of the steak immediately after removing from the pan. Slice and enjoy!
What does elk steak taste like?
Like any wild game, elk meat varies widely in flavor and texture depending on many different factors. In general, elk is a very lean meat with a mild flavor and is, in my opinion, some of the best wild game meat out there. Age, sex of the animal, and meat care are the biggest determining factors in how the meat will taste. But other factors like habitat and time of year also play a role. In general, cow elk are more mild than bull elk but an older cow can also have a strong taste and tougher texture.
Proper meat care can help reverse negative qualities of a not so ideal meat. Proper field dressing and aging goes a long way in improving both flavor and texture of wild game meat. Sometimes even if you do all the right things, your meat can still end up tough. In that case, I recommend adding lots of flavor and slow cooking the meat to break down the tough tissue like in this braised shank recipe.
What goes well with elk steak?
A perfectly cooked elk steak is really a showstopper on its own. I mean, come on, look at it! With that being said, simple sides are the way to go so that your star can really shine. Roasted or grilled veggies along with a simple starch like roasted potatoes, mashed potatoes or homemade bread with butter are all excellent choices. Don't forget to open a bottle of wine too. A bold cabernet sauvignon pairs very well with the meatiness of the elk steak.
How to make blue cheese compound butter:
Compound butter is a magical topping that can take an amazing steak to 5 star restaurant quality with very little effort. Compound butter is a butter that has been blended with herbs, spices, or other ingredients. The butter is then rolled into a log and sliced for placing on top of resting meat. The butter then melts while the meat is resting and adds extra layers of flavor to the meat. This particular recipe includes Irish butter, blue cheese crumbles, garlic, fresh thyme, fresh sage, salt, and pepper. The result is a flavor bomb that is the perfect complement to a delicious wild game steak.
Compound butter looks and sounds fancy but is actually super simple to make! Follow the instructions below and you'll be surprised at how easy it is!
Freezing compound butter:
You may be thinking, ok this looks great but what am I going to do with all this butter? Eat some now and save some for later, of course! Compound butter freezes beautifully and you can freeze it in individual servings to elevate a simple meal later! Follow the steps below to keep the quality of the butter.
Putting it all together:
As I said before, elk steak can be a real stunner on its own. But once you put this blue cheese butter on top, your taste buds will be singing. Don't have any wild game steak? No worries. You can slap this butter on a ribeye or beef tenderloin for and enjoy it just the same. You can make this recipe to enjoy all for yourself or use it as a centerpiece for a special meal enjoyed with friends and family. Either way, you're going to be coming back to this recipe over and over again!
Elk Sirloin Steak with Blue Cheese Compound Butter
- 8 oz salted butter (preferably Irish butter), room temperature
- ½ cup blue cheese crumbles
- 1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme
- 1 teaspoon chopped fresh sage
- ½ teaspoon minced garlic
- ½ teaspoon black pepper
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- 2 elk sirloin steaks (or any other wild game steak cut)
- salt and pepper, to taste
- 1 tablespoon pork lard (or your preferred cooking fat)
- Combine all ingredients in a medium bowl, with the butter on the bottom. Using a spoon or silicone spatula, fold butter over ingredients until all ingredients are uniformly combined.
- Lay out a piece of parchment paper, about 14" long. Spread butter into a rough rectangle, about 9-10" long and 4-5" wide.
- Starting on the long end closest to you, roll the parchment paper so that the butter starts to fold over itself. Keep rolling until the butter is formed into a log.
- Roll until the parchment paper completely covers the log. Squeeze tightly to compact the butter. Twist the ends of the parchment paper tightly. Refrigerate until firm, about 2-3 hours.
- Once firm, unwrap and slice into 14 slices (more or less, depending on how much you want per serving). Run your knife under hot water before slicing to make smooth cuts.
- Place slices in a single layer on a parchment paper-lined pan and refrigerate until ready to use.
- To Freeze: place slices in a single layer on a parchment paper-lined pan. Freeze until solid, about 2-3 hours. Wrap individual portions in parchment paper and vacuum seal. I like to do 2 slices per bag for 1 meal. Freeze for up to 3 months. When ready to use, cut open vacuum bag and thaw under refrigeration. Opening the bag before thawing will help the butter keep its shape.
- Heat a cast iron pan over medium-high heat. Season steak all over with salt and pepper. Use less salt than you normally would because the butter is fairly salty.
- Add lard to pan and swirl to coat pan. Add in steak and cook for 5-6 minutes per side or until internal temperature reaches 120°F for medium rare. Cooking time will depend largely on the size, shape, and thickness of your steak. A digital thermometer is your best bet for perfectly cooked steak.
- Remove steak to a plate to rest. Place a slice of butter on each steak to melt while the steak rests. Let steak rest for 10 minutes before slicing.
- Slice steak into ½" slices and serve. Enjoy!