Tuesday, December 20, 2011

For Eggy: Elk Tenderloin

Remember this gent? My beloved spousal unit? Who in 2010 drew, along with a buddy, one of the top spots in the universe to hunt elk and after five days came back empty handed? That's okay. Elk hunting with a bow and arrow is difficult under the best circumstances. Doubly so when you're dealing with New Mexico elk. Hunters who are successful have been doing it for years, decades even. They know all the secrets. Because New Mexico elk are as wily as an animal can get. They know their heads, hides, and meat are in high demand and they pass along evasion skills through their DNA. That call you spent all weekend working on until the dogs dug themselves a permanent hole in a far corner of the property isn't fooling anyone, least of all an elk. These are not stupid animals.

Fortunately, we did not go empty handed this year thanks to a most generous Christmas gift from a friend. Four whole elk tenderloins sent to us courtesy Allen Brothers Meats. You can bet I was on the internet in a flash, looking for a recipe and finally settling on this one.

I was a little worried about all that rosemary . . .


Prepared the marinade about 9:00 that morning, coated the tenderloins (there are two here, stuck together, which we didn't realize until after they were finished cooking—d'oh!), and placed in the fridge.

About an hour before I wanted to serve, I took the elk out of the fridge to come up to room temperature. Twenty minutes later, pre-heated the oven and started the sauce. Popped elk in oven. At the 35-minute mark, checked it with my thermometer, which read a perfect 138 degrees F, pulled it from the oven, covered it, and set it aside to rest for 8-10 minutes while I made the rest of the meal: couscous with garlic and parsley, and collard greens and Swiss chard braised in bacon grease with bits of bacon and toasted almond slices.



Here's the final plating. And, yes, elk should be cooked to rare. Anything more is uncivilized.



I was right about the rosemary. Too over-powering. As was the orange. But once we scraped the marinade off the tenderloin, we could enjoy the most melt-in-your-mouth tender and delicious meat I've ever tasted in my life. Hands down, elk's got it head and shoulder above pork and beef in my book.

So, S.B., start practicing your calls . . .

17 comments:

Boxer said...

I guess this would not be the time to remind everyone the next culinary challenge is Tofu?

bwahahahahah!

I love rosemary and used a ton in a traditional meat loaf (yes, I used real meat) but that's why you use it in meat loaf, right? Not a bad thing to be overpowered? Your dish looks fabulous and I enjoyed reading how you decided what/where/how to use seasonings/etc.

czar said...

Be right over.

moi said...

Boxer: Tofu tenderloin! Hey, I like rosemary, but it can get overpowering real quick. Next time I make this, I'll keep the marinade, but scrape it off right before serving.

Czar: Well, you're more than welcome but it's all gone!

Intuitive Eggplant said...

Oh, Moi! How lovely of you to share this recipe and thanks for the shout-out :) I am so jealous of your four, count ’em, four elk tenderloins!

I pretty much always marinate game meat like deer, elk, and venison (unless it’s in burger form). And I usually drain the marinade before cooking and pat dry. Was the reduction in the recipe too thick to easily drain? The combination of flavors sounds good, but that does sound like an awful lot of fresh rosemary, and I would think it would overpower the fresh thyme . . .

Meanwhile, got caught up on your snow/dog/training post and am thinking of you. The newest storm sounds like a humdinger, and I hope you’re all faring ok.

In case I don’t make it back over here before I head off on my travels, wishing you, S.B., and the menagerie happy holidays. Muchas gracias for your friendship!

xoxo, eggy

moi said...

Eggy: Actually, the marinade was thick like a rub, and I should have rubbed it off before cooking. The sauce itself was much more delicate, with more thyme flavor, which I always prefer to rosemary. On the weather front, we got hit with another 9 inches over the past two days. Yikes! I'm beginning to NOT consider this fun anymore. Thanks for dropping by, for your Christmas wishes, and I hope you enjoy safe travels and a wonderful holiday! Catch you on the flip side!.

Serendipity said...

Moi,

This sounds like a fine recipe for elk. With my own freezer full of elk, I think I see a holiday dinner with this twist coming up. Very nice presentation, by the way.

The only better way to have elk tenderloin is in elk camp, but you gotta be there and get an elk first. (It helps to enjoy elk camp, too.)

Bowhunting is very much a challenge!

Serendipity

Aunty Belle said...

Well mah goodness!

Nice folks to send along elk tenderloins fer ya! Wow.

Rosemary is strong--how will ya prepare the tenderloins next time?

uhm...was that a SQUIRREL I seen lurkin' near yore preparations? Form long posts ago? Heh.

fishy said...

Wow!
Sharing is a fine thing; few will share the prize of the tenderloin.

You and SB are loved.

I am very spare in my use of Rosemary , especially if it is dried rather than fresh. Good thing you could remove the excess and enjoy those beautiful tenderloins.

Whatcha doing with the leftovers?

Troll said...

Yummy looking dinner. I've never eaten or hunted Elk. Was the GILDAN New Mexico Bowl played outside? Brrrrrrrrrrrrrr.

moi said...

Serendipity: And the irony is, S.B. is an excellent shot. He just couldn't get close enough to try and make one. And why is it that food always tastes better over a campfire?

Aunty: I'll use this same recipe, maybe cut the rosemary in half, and scrape off the rub after it cooks. Yes, the gent who sent us this gift is a good friend, indeed.

Fishy: What leftovers :o) There was enough left over for a couple meals of sandwiches.

Troll: Next time you have the opportunity to try elk, do. Yes, our stadium is outdoors (the Pit is our only indoor venue--New Mexicans by and large hate recreating inside). But I think it was sunny, in which case, not brrrrrrr at all. That's the trick of a Rocky Mountain winter: as long as the sun shines and the wind doesn't blow, it's actually quite warm. It's easy to overdress, actually.

Kevin Cronin's Oddly Blonde Ghost said...

I remember a Rocky Mountain Winter's night. My wine bottle was low and I was watching for the snow. Thinking about what I was missing in the city.

moi said...

Not a thing but do you miss the band?

John Denver's Ghost said...

I've seen it raining fire in the sky on a Rocky Mountain Winter's night. So, I took country roads back to West Virginia with my Mountain Mama.

moi said...

John: Nnnnnnnnn-oh. That's way too PTSD for me. Hippie parents, their hippie friends, all their hippie records, hippie food, and hippie parties while all we kids pretended to sleep on some stranger's waterbed with the smell of not-cooking-herbs wafting in under the door . . .

Curmudgeon said...

I usually cook my elk in a Terra Cotta type roasting pan with a lid. I Just rub mine with garlic, salt and pepper. Especially back straps, I'm sure there are better ways but I'm kind of a purist.

We (My brother and I} know lots of spots. But we live in Co. and know lots of people. We have strategies, preparation, experience, topographic maps,practice calling and tons of info. We know our areas very well but we still come back empty some years. We still-hunt because my brother is part billy goat and chases them to me. It's so disappointing to not fill. Elk are every thing you said. I doubt if its that hard to draw a tag in Co. He will get one next year. Tell him he is in good company. I think only one in eight archers fill their tags.

moi said...

Curmee: Well, to be fair, last year was his first hunt ever, although he's been shooting bow for years and is an excellent shot. But, as you know, being out in the field is completely different. He didn't draw this year at all. I suggested next time he go out with a guide, just to get the kind of experience you describe. I sure would like a freezer full of elk meat! And maybe I'll forgo fancy with the other two and try your minimalist approach.

Curmudgeon said...

If I remember right you soak the terracotta pot and lid in water for 24 hours Rub in spices on the roast maybe with olive oil, throw, carrots, onions, garlic,potatoes or whatever Then throw the terracotta pot and lid in the oven. If I was going to marinade it at all I'd do it with yogurt. The good thing is you can do it with poorer cuts of meat and maybe fry your filets in butter and garlic.I've never had one more tender, but then I'm not the worlds greatest cook. Like I said "I'm fast, cheap and easy."