You Should Start Using – Elk

So, to anyone that knows me, it is no surprise that I love game meat. My two favorite things to eat are Venison and Duck. However, it was a surprise to me, that Elk meat differs so greatly from Venison. To me it sounds like they would be similar in taste and texture, but I was wrong, so very wrong. Upon this realization I decide it would be best to bring in a far more expert opinion then my own.

Enter Sabrina, my Mescalero Apache, fix it with a damn craftsman-wrench friend. Sabrina cooks traditional Indian food and a pretty regular basis. For heaven’s sake, the woman still hunts for most of her meat. I figured it would be best to default to her, for all you Elk related know how.

Q: What do you want to look for when you are buying Elk?  –

A: There’s obviously a large difference between buying elk and hunting elk. When you hunt it, you know what to look for in your cow or bull. The health of the fur coat, how old they are, what their diet was like this year based on where your hunting ground is.

The thing about buying elk locally is that the majority of elk has been raised on pasture based farms instead of wild. That makes ensuring you get healthy, tender meat harder. You have to take into account how much grain, silage or concentrate those animals were fed and when, were growth promoting hormones used in production,ect. IF it was hunted and you’re getting it from a backwoods or immediate source; how do you know your elk isn’t going to be too gamey? Were they hunted for food tenderness instead of trophy quality?

Well – unless you hunt it – you don’t know any of those things.

Look for dark red almost wine colored meat. Ground elk will generally have even a darker hue like a port wine.

If it’s flank or steak it will be more like a rose but it should still be darker than beef. It should be smooth, with very little fat around the tendons, all the silver skin (the white connective tissue) should be removed. Think of someone who doesn’t know how to de-bone a fish and leaving the flesh all torn up. That’s the opposite of what you want. If they skinned it correctly it should be smooth.

Q: How does it differ from Venison?

Technically all elk, deer, caribou, antelope, moose – is all venison. BUT, Elk tastes different than deer in that it’s bolder with a mild sage or juniper flavor depending on the animals diet. It’s not as gamey because the animals hunting time is later in the beginning of the year so they’ve generally fattened up a bit (that being said it’s still a 97/3% ratio). If it does taste like deer meat that’s because the hunter didn’t properly get it cooled and skinned as fast as possible. Leaving it hot or leaving the hide on too long will cause its taste to become pungent.

 Q: Where do you recommend to source Elk from if you don’t hunt or aren’t able to?

A: Well if you Google it or go to the Ballard Market (local to us in Seattle), I guarantee  you’ll be disappointed in the quality or pay 1/8 of your 401k to some horrendous “buy exotic meats” butcher that charges by the lb. If it’s in the Seattle Met for a foodie taste ed op: don’t buy it. It’s going to be way overpriced, and geared toward hipsters that don’t know a dove from a duck call.

Your best bet is to:

  1. Go to your local farmers market, find the beef butcher and ask him if he knows anyone or has any. Go early on in the morning, get his best flank or tri-tip and that’ll get you more information.
  2. Bob the butcher at 4861 Rainier Ave South – you can order a week ahead once you know what steaks or fillets you want. They readily have frozen ground elk.

 Q: How do you recommend cooking Elk, what is the best method?

Brined Bitches. Brined.

Do yourself a favor and make a brined hash for breakfast out of elk meat and eat appropriately: as a carnivore.

Brined Elk Hash Recipe

4-5 lbs hooved animal shoulder
Yukon gold potatoes
Yellow onion

½ cup sugar
2 c salt
3 tsp pink salt
Pickling spice

  • Make the brine: Add salt, sugar, pink salt and pickling spice to a large pot of water. Boil it to dissolve the salt and sugar then chill it in the refrigerator.
  • Submerge the shoulder in the brine, weighting it down with a plate or heavy object and let it sit for 4-5 days in the fridge.
  • After its done, rinse the meat
  • You can slow cook the shoulder in the oven or in a crockpot for 5-6 hours OR place in a pressure cooker at 10 lbs of pressure for 45 minutes until tender.
  • In the meantime boil the potatoes until tender then chop the onion, garlic, and potatoes for the hash.
  • When the corned elk is finished, chop it up and break it into pieces
  • Saute the onion and garlic in a pan until translucent
  • Add in potatoes, cook until they’re brown or to your liking.
  • Add in elk, parsley and salt/pepper until crispy
  • Serve with a sunny side-up egg
  • Enjoy the fact that you made yourself a correct god damned breakfast.

Note: Sabrina says, if you sub Venison for Elk: “It won’t taste as good, but sure.”

Get Pink Salt to Brine Here:Sherpa Pink Gourmet Himalayan Salt (5lb Bag Extra-Fine Grain)



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