Few things can stir your soul like the sound of a bugling elk. Thankfully there are places where elk herds are thriving thanks to conservation organizations such as Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation and other groups that work tirelessly to restore, conserve, secure and improved habitat for wildlife. Hundreds of thousands of acres have been reclaimed for wildlife across the country. Places such as the Buffalo River in Arkansas, mountain regions in the Rockies, coal grounds in Kentucky, woodlands in Pennsylvania and the grasslands of the Plains. Because of these restoration and conservation programs more hunters have the opportunity to chase bugling bulls or pursue a cow elk.
Elk hunting can quickly turn into an obsession and when the conditions are right and all your plans come together, it is one of the most thrilling experiences a hunter may ever experience, at least it has been for me.
Field to Fork
Some wild game meat may require a lot of prep time or special marinades to help mask some of the gamey nature of the meat. Elk meat is not one of those meats; in fact it is some of the best red meat I have ever eaten. Elk meat can be substituted in just about any recipe which uses red meat. However, elk meat tends to be less fatty than traditional beef. A good thing for our diet, but it also means you might have to tweak your cooking methods a bit because the meat cooks faster and has a tendency to dry out quicker.
Although I love creating gourmet meals and even enjoy laboring over complex dishes for hours at a time, one of my most memorable feasts, ever, occurred the evening I harvested my first elk. It was a mouth-watering feast cooked over a simple campfire. I have made this dish many times since then and it is still just as delicious now but it always manages to remind me of one of my memorable hunts.
Blackened Apricot Stuffed Elk Steak
- Fresh elk steak, sliced about 1 inch thick
- Dried, fresh or canned fruit such as apricot, apples, peaches, plums (In my backpack that day, I had a package of dried apricots to snack on so that is what we used)
If using dried fruit, rehydrate the fruit in water until it is plump. Drain and press out ALL excess water or juice, slice into strips. Cut an opening in the steak forming a pocket. Heat your skillet (works best with cast iron ) until it is sizzling hot. Blacken fruit slices in skillet until slightly charred, oil is not needed, for added flavor drizzle honey over fruit while it is still cooking. Remove the slightly blackened fruit strips and stuff into the pocket you formed in the thick steak. Season the outside of the steak with salt and pepper. Place steak in sizzling skillet, cook for about two minutes per side, or until you have the desired level of doneness you prefer. Skillet will smoke, a lot. The smoke just adds to the flavor. After you have cooked each side, remove the steak from the heat and let it rest (preferably covered with foil) for about 10 minutes before you cut it. Set back and enjoy the fruits of your hunt! Hopefully, as the elk herds continue to flourish there will be more and more opportunities for hunters to experience the delicious table fare of the majestic elk.
Do you have an elk hunting experience or favorite elk recipe to share? Tell us in the comment section.