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Prepairing Elk after the kill

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Unread 10-15-2013, 02:59 PM
Silver Member
Join Date: Nov 2009
Posts: 223
Prepairing Elk after the kill

What is your tried and true method to prepair your elk meat after you get it home?

Yesterday my son got his first elk a nice sized cow, we immediately skinned it and deboned it in 25-45 degree weather. Then cooled it and packed it up for the drive home to Phoenix area where it will be 85deg all this week. We had some of the backstrap last night and it is very tough and I would like to find a good way to tenderize it before cutting and freezing it.

I have read many options for aging meat but it does not seem like most of them will work well for elk.
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Unread 10-15-2013, 05:06 PM
Junior Member
Join Date: Dec 2010
Location: Tucson, AZ
Posts: 8
Re: Prepairing Elk after the kill

If you are looking to age the meat in Phoenix, and you do not have access to a walk in where you can hang it, then you can get by with your fridge or a cooler. I generally recommend against using a regular household fridge because often times the fridge will have had onions, garlic, ect. in it recently that will taint the flavor of the meat. If you use a cooler you want to create a rack in the bottom to keep the meat from having direct contact with the ice. If you are going to try to age the meat I would recommend doing a good bit of reading on the internet on how to age wild game before you do so.

As to why the backstrap was tough, I cannot say, but don't think it should of been. How much experience do you have cooking wild game? How did you prepare it? Whenever you are preparing any type of meat you want to make sure that before it goes into your mouth it is sliced relatively thinly across the grain and not with the grain of the meat.

Also did you check the temperature of the steaks with a meat thermometer? Often when people are accustomed to cooking beef but not wild game they overcook it and make it much tougher. The meat is a much darker red, and the red persists through the cooking process much more than the dyes they put in beef. Consequently people who aren't used to cooking elk will look at the inside and think it is still raw/rare when if you stuck it with a meat thermometer you would see it is medium well to well done.

My favorite way to cook elk or deer backstrap is to cut it into ~3/4" to 1" thick pieces across the muscle fiber. It should end up with more or less a circle as the shape. Make sure they are warmed up to room temp and salt both sides. Let this sit for ~20 minutes so that the salt denatures the proteins on the surface but doesn't go much farther. It is okay to oversalt a little because some of the salt will run off in the juices and you are also compensating for not being able salt the inside. While you are waiting for the salt to do its thing either get the grill or a cast iron skillet going. You want to get it HOT before cooking so that you sear the meat as soon as you put it on. I use a light coat of a light olive oil either on the grill rack or the pan and put the steaks in immediately. Make sure not to overcook it, if the steaks are cut on the thin side I will only do about a minute and a half to two minutes per side, and then let the steak rest for 10 minutes before eating it. While the steaks are resting I normally put some fresh ground black pepper on either side. Once again I advise checking with a calibrated meat thermometer because the meat will be much more red inside than you are accustomed to with beef.
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Unread 10-15-2013, 06:54 PM
Bronze Member
Join Date: Aug 2013
Posts: 79
Re: Prepairing Elk after the kill

Never had a 'tough' piece of elk. Only way would be to cook it while the muscle was in rigor mortis, usually 4 hours after kill. Vinison needs no aging other than to quickly cool the meat after kill. It does not lend to aging as beef does. Others may argue this but it is fact. Kill it, cool it quickly, sounds like you did, then freeze it or eat it.
How did you prepare the loin and how long after the kill was it?
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Unread 10-16-2013, 09:35 PM
Silver Member
Join Date: Mar 2012
Location: Bozeangeles
Posts: 174
Re: Prepairing Elk after the kill

sounds like you accidentally overcooked it to me... no offense intended

my opinion (been eating wild game since i was 3) is that meat cooks "as fast as it could run when it was alive".

bottom line- forget what you know about beef & don't worry about undercooking elk. i've eaten alot of raw elk & never been sick from it.

one general rule i've found when pan frying a breaded cut (usually ~3/4" thick) is to flip it when the sides start to show a color change, then pull it when you start seeing little spots of juice pop up through the top. let it sit for a minute or three & it's perfect.

for grilling (i go with 1"-1 1/2" thick for grilling), get the grill hot first (i'm sure you know this!), slap the steaks on for a minute, then give them a quarter twist. flip em in another minute (or two if you don't like rare), and pull them after another 2 minutes.

generally speaking- about the time you'd be flipping the beef steaks, the elk is done.

good luck & congratulations to your son!

ps- i don't cut game into steaks when i butcher anymore. i like the flexibility of being able to cut them to my desired thickness when i thaw them. this way, i'm not trying to cook 1" steaks for breakfast or grilling 1/2" steaks (those turn to leather FAST) for dinner. i can also just cook the roasts whole, too (YUM!). just a thought...
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Unread 10-18-2013, 11:35 PM
Silver Member
Join Date: Nov 2009
Posts: 223
Re: Prepairing Elk after the kill

I think it was just cooked to much, tonight the same cuts were much better
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Unread 10-20-2013, 09:33 PM
Gold Member
Join Date: Jun 2004
Location: Worland, Wyoming
Posts: 765
Re: Prepairing Elk after the kill

My very first cow elk was as tough as shoe leather. The meat tasted great, but I couldn't chew the back straps. So big bulls are the same way. I think that cow I got was the great grandmother of the herd. Anymore, I make stew meat and burger and never worry about having a tough cut of meat.
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