Grilled Elk Steak w/ Bacon Wrap

These steaks came out extremely tender with great flavor, and a little kick.

You will need:

  • 1 lb elk steak, butterflied (this was backstrap)
  • 1 slice bacon per steak
  • toothpicks
  • Dry Rub= A Shake of the following: cumin, onion powder, chili powder, salt, Mrs Dash lemon pepper, Hi Mountain Seasoning Elk Seasoning, garlic pepper, cayenne pepper, and worcestshire (not pictured)

1. Marinade meat in refrigerator with the dry rub for desired length of time (we did 2 days).

2. Preheat grill. Wrap each butterflied steak with a slice of raw bacon and secure with toothpicks.

3. Grill steaks 15-17 minutes to medium-rare. Mine were pretty thick, so adjust time accordinly if your steaks are on the thin side. I flipped each steak twice.

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Elk Chili

This has been home for the past 4 days for me while we have been elk hunting with friends. I had to return to work on Wedneday, but everyone else stayed in for a full week. It has been a snowy, fun-filled trip, ending with two nice bulls harvested, many more we were privileged to see, and a week full of great memories. This was the final trip for the horses this year, who are now officially on “vacation” for the winter, and Jade was a good camp dog, even joining me INSIDE my sleeping bag for the first night.

Last week before going out of town on a conference, I made one of my staple cold-weather recipes, chili, knowing there would be a few days of leftovers. Ground elk, venison, or beef all work great in this.

Elk Chili

Serves 6-8

  • 1 lb ground elk
  • 14 oz. can red beans (around here they are called “chili-ettes”)
  • 4 oz can diced green chilis, drained
  • ~ 8 oz. fresh tomatoes, diced (I used our garden tomatoes that had ripened up) OR 3/4 can diced tomatoes
  • 8 oz. tomato sauce
  • 1/2 large yellow onion, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely diced
  • taco seasoning– I use Kittencal’s taco seasoning recipe from food.com
  • 1/4 c medium salsa
  • 1/4 tsp. garlic salt
  • 1/8 tsp.pepper
  • 1/2 tsp. cocoa powder
  • 1.5 tsp. cumin
  • 1 T. chili powder
  • 1.5 tsp. oregano
  • 1 tsp. Worcestshire
  • cheddar cheese & green onion–optional

1. Brown ground elk and season with taco seasoning. While meat is cooking, chop vegetables.

2. Dump meat into crockpot and add in remaining ingredients.

3. Cook in crockpot on LOW 4-6 hours. (My crockpot gets very hot on low, so adjust accordingly). Garnish with cheddar cheese and green onions.

4. Refrigerate leftovers once cool. We like using leftovers in scrambled eggs, in tortillas w/ cheese and salsa, or on hot dogs.

Crockpot Lasagna with Ground Elk

I have recently begun working an extra two hours per day tutoring, and four days per week I now find myself not getting home until 6 pm. By this time, we are hungry, and if dinner can’t be ready in about 10 minutes, I either want to eat leftovers or have something waiting for me when I walk through the door. My crockpot, a $3 yard sale steal, has made a quick re-entry into my life after lying dormant most of the summer, and I am currently making at least one crockpot meal per week. While I enjoy cooking and find it relaxing, when I am short on time, nothing is better than dumping your ingredients in the crockpot and knowing you will have dinner ready when you walk in the door.

I found a straight-forward recipe  from food.com and decided it was time to try lasagna in the crockpot. We waste no food in our house, and I am very conscious of using or freezing leftovers if not eaten within a day or two. I found myself with a leftover cooked elk burger, a mason jar of tomato puree I had frozen earlier, and a bunch of brown-paper-bag-ripened tomatoes from our garden ready to be used.

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Crockpot Lasagna with Ground Elk

Serves 2-3

16 oz. spaghetti sauce– I make my sauce and use “My Mama Iuliucci’s ‘Don’t Skip a Step Spaghetti Sauce’ “  as the basis of my sauce but I do skip a few steps…lol

4 oz. or more ground elk, crumbled (beef or venison would be fine, too)

~ 1.5 c Italian blend cheese

~ 1/2 c Parmesan cheese

~1.5 c 2% Cottage Cheese

Italian seasoning

3-6 No-cook lasagna noodles, depending on size of crockpot

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1. If using homemade, make spaghetti sauce, add in ground elk, and simmer in crockkpot for 3 hours on low. No need to dirty another pan! My sauce was made of what I had on hand and based off the above recipe: 16 oz. tomato puree, diced cherry tomatoes, onion, parmesan cheese, minced garlic, garlic pepper, sugar, salt, Italian seasoning, and parsley. I did not measure exactly.

2. Next, I scooped out 2/3 of the sauce, and left a layer on the bottom of the crockpot.

3. Next, I ran home during my 15 minute break between jobs, and layered non-cooked lasagna noodles (broken to fit the circular crockpot), spread them with cottage cheese, then sprinkled shredded Italian blend cheese and parmesan on top. Sprinkle with Italian seasoning.

4. Repeat this process two more times–sauce, noodles, cheeses, Italian seasoning– and add a little extra cheese on the top and final layer.

5. Make sure your noodles are totally covered with sauce/cottage cheese so they cook and are not hard.

6. I only cooked my lasagna for 2.5 hours on HIGH in the crockpot and it was juuuust done. If I had had more time, I would cook it on LOW as recommended for 4-6 hours.

7. Serve with salad, and enjoy!

Cajun Elk Backstrap + Elk Camp

This past Sunday Joe and I rounded up our four horses and headed into elk camp. After a 4.5 hour ride we arrived and set up camp, where we spent the next three nights with Strawberry, Yolanda, Taz, and Ruger in some beautiful, rugged, wild country at 10,000 ft. among the bighorn sheep, mule deer, and elk.

On opening day we rode down the canyon of the drainage we were camped in and saw once nice bull headed for the hills, literally. On day two we saw three cows, and several bighorn sheep, including a group of six rams. We moved camp a few miles further up in preparation for our final day.

With frost on the inside of our dome tent, we were up early and headed out while the full moon was still high in the sky. We began the ascent up the switchbacks that would lead us over the top of a pass and into the next drainage, which we were confident that no one else had recently been in. About 2/3 of the way to the top, at 11,300 ft in elevation, two raghorns appeared in front of us on the skyline. After a look through the binos, Joe cow-called as we stepped off the ponies to observe. As the elk walked behind a small hill, I moved another 40 yards closer before they reappeared on the horizon, putting me within 330 yards. I laid down and got as comfy as I could resting on a rock, lying just above an old rock Indian blind we rode by as we came up the canyon. Holding steady, my first shot went through the lungs, the second through the spine, resulting in an immediate downward tumble. Joe’s whoop of celebration echoed off the mountains around us as the remaining elk scurried away across the canyon. After three years, I had my first elk.

“Look at where we are right now, this is what matters,” Joe said as I walked back down to him and the horses. And he is right. The experience is what matters most, beyond whether an elk is harvested, or how big it is. Being out in the backcountry and living simply off the land, appreciating the cycle of life, and respecting the wilderness and its inhabitants for all that it is. While riding 40 miles and packing an elk out horseback is a lot more work than dragging and loading it into the back of a pickup, the reward is also greater, in that the experience is fuller and more intense. More sore backs and sore horses, too. But I appreciate the hard work of the horses and humans involved, and respect the elk and the life it was living in the mountains. I am grateful for its harvest, as it will feed our family for the next year, and that bull will graciously enable us to continue to make meals from the mountains.

This afternoon we butchered the elk at the shop, and made our first meal with our fresh elk meat this evening.

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Cajun Elk Backstrap

1. Cut backstrap into 1/2-inch  steaks and marinade in Italian dressing for at least 4 hours.

2. Heat oil in frying pan until it bubbles, I use just enough to cover the bottom of the pan.

3. Dump in steaks and season with Cajun seasoning; we use “Cajun Campfire” from Hi Mountain Seasonings.

4. Fry on medium heat for 2 minutes, flip, cook for 2 minutes, and repeat cycle once. Steaks should be cooked to medium-rare at this point.

I served these steaks with Ranch and Bacon Diced Potatoes.