Do you ever get tired of preparing your steak the same way every time? Me too! This recipe is a simple and delicious way to add a little spice to your steak night. The chipotle butter only has 2 simple ingredients and is super simple to make! Bonus: the recipe makes plenty of butter to freeze for later!
Why this recipe works:
Steak and butter go hand in hand - especially wild game steaks. Since elk is such a lean meat, it really benefits from the addition of a little fat like butter. But why not add a little something extra? Chipotle peppers are like little flavor bombs and are so versatile! Once you place a slice of the finished chipotle butter on your steak, the butter and all the chipotle flavor melts into the steak. A squeeze of lime just before serving brightens up the dish for a fun twist on steak night!
- Steak: This recipe works with just about any steak you can think of. I used elk sirloin steak but you can use any steak cut of venison, moose, antelope, beef, etc. The key is to cook it to a perfect medium-rare and top it with some ultra-flavorful butter!
- Lard: Lard can be substituted with your favorite cooking fat for steak. But a good quality (or homemade) lard is a great high smoke point fat to use for cooking wild game steaks. It adds great flavor to the steak and results in a nice crust on the outside of the steak.
- Butter: You can use salted or unsalted butter, but you may want to taste the butter and add some salt if you use unsalted. Try to find a high quality butter. It makes a big difference in the flavor!
- Chipotles: Canned chipotles in adobo sauce can usually be found near the salsas, green chiles, etc. in the grocery store. They add a ton of flavor to many dishes. I use them in a lot of my taco recipes like these elk heart tacos or venison barbacoa tacos.
- Cast Iron Pan: Cooking wild game steak in a cast iron pan is a great way to cook a perfect steak when it's too cold to grill outside. Ok, who am I kidding, it's always grilling season! But, another reason to use a cast iron pan is the perfect crust you get on the outside of the steak!
- Digital Thermometer: A good digital thermometer is essential for achieving a perfectly cooked steak. For medium-rare, aim for an internal temperature of 120°F. The temperature will rise a few degrees during the resting time.
- Parchment Paper: Parchment paper is used to wrap up the compound butter into a log. You can also use plastic wrap. Alternatively, you can skip the rolling step and place dollops of butter on top of the steak instead!
How to make chipotle compound butter:
Chipotle compound butter is one of the easiest butters to make because you only need 2 ingredients: butter and chipotles in adobo sauce. Those little peppers are packed with flavor so you don't need more than that. Follow the instructions below to make this delicious butter!
Freezing compound butter:
Compound butter recipes typically make quite a bit. So unless you are making this recipe for 10+ people, you're going to want to freeze some of it. Luckily, compound butter freezes super well and it's handy to have a few packages of this butter in your freezer for future use. Read below for a few simple steps to freeze your compound butter.
How to cook elk steak in a cast iron pan:
There are many ways to cook an elk steak. Grill, sous vide, reverse sear, smoke, etc. While none of those methods will steer you wrong, I find that a cast iron pan provides the most consistent results. The crust you get from cooking a steak in a cast iron pan with lard as the cooking fat is unbeatable. Read below for how to cook the perfect cast iron elk steak!
Compound butter is butter mixed with flavorful ingredients (usually spices and herbs) and pressed into a tight log. Compound butter originated in France (beurre composé) and can be made in many different varieties.
Compound butter is most commonly used for steak but it can also be used to flavor vegetables, mashed potatoes, fish, etc. or used as a spread on bread.
Yes! And you will probably want to because recipes typically make more than you can use in a meal. See above for specific instructions on how to freeze it.
Short answer: it depends. Tenderness of any meat will depend on a lot of different factors: cut of meat, age and habitat of the animal, hanging time, proper meat handling, cooking, etc. But, if prepared properly, elk steaks from many different cuts can be super tender!
Elk is typically a mild-tasting wild game meat. That being said, it is very lean so the flavor is very "meaty." But, elk is some of the most delicious wild game meat out there if it is cared for and prepared properly!
Elk should be cooked medium-rare or rare. Because of the lack of fat, it can become dry and tough if cooked past medium. To achieve this, it should be cooked at a hot temperature for a short amount of time rather than a low temperature for a longer amount of time.
Other steak recipes to try:
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Elk Steak with Chipotle Compound Butter
- 8 oz salted butter, softened
- 2 chipotles in adobo sauce, finely diced (more or less depending on spice preference)
- 1 tablespoon adobo sauce (from can of chipotles)
- 4 elk steaks - any size, any cut! (or venison, moose, antelope, etc.)
- 1 tablespoon lard (or your favorite cooking fat)
- salt and pepper, to taste
- lime wedges, for serving
- 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 12" long. Spread butter into a rough rectangle, about 8" long and 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 10 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. Pat steak dry with paper towels. 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.
- Add a squeeze of lime juice just before serving, if desired. Slice steak into ½" slices and serve. Enjoy!
- Butter: If you don't want to wait for the butter to harden in the fridge, you can place a dollop of softened butter on top of your steak instead.
- Steak: The steak does not have to be cooked in a cast iron pan. You can grill it or fry it up however you'd like!