Depending on where you live, you may be exposed to alternatives to beef, such as elk. Elk meat may be substituted for red meat in virtually any common recipe because it tastes similar and doesn't have the sort of "gamey" taste often associated with game meats. Elk meat is dark red in color and works well in steaks and roasts or ground up into burger. You can cook ground elk in a variety of ways for a successful dish, with a few considerations.
The Dryness Factor
Elk meat is a lean type of meat that has the potential to dry out if you don't take steps to keep it moist. You won't notice any fat marbling with elk steaks, roasts or ground meat, so you may have to adjust your methods to keep it moist. Low heat and longer cooking times along with moist heat cooking methods are commonly used with elk. With ground elk, add 1 teaspoon of oil or one egg to each pound of meat to keep it moist throughout the cooking process.
Ground elk responds well to slow cooking methods, as it doesn't have a chance to dry out and it adds flavor to the dish being prepared. Slow-cooked casseroles, chili and spaghetti sauces that include ground elk turn out just as rich and hearty as if they contained ground beef, pork or turkey. At the beginning, brown the ground elk slowly in olive oil in a pot on the stovetop and then add the other ingredients and liquids to continue the process. Season the elk meat simply with salt and pepper to bring out its natural flavors.
Pan Frying and Grilling
If you decide to make burgers with your ground elk, a medium heat pan or grill is the way to go. Once again, you only need simple seasoning, but keep an eye on them as they cook, because the leanness of the meat and a faster cooking time may cause them to dry out faster. The burgers only need about five minutes per side, but adding moisture before cooking via oil or an egg will keep them moist throughout.
Ground elk has the potential to create a variety of memorable dishes, but elk has a lot more to offer. You can make elk steaks, roasts and ribs or add strips and slices of elk to sandwiches, tacos, wraps, pasta dishes and stroganoffs. It is important to monitor the moisture level no matter how you cook it, but low and slow or high heat and fast will usually keep the meat from drying out. For flavor and texture, elk is a quality addition to virtually any meal.
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