How to Cook Elk Backstrap: A Step-by-Step Guide

Cooking a tender and delicious elk backstrap is an easy way to enjoy wild game. Not just a treat for special occasions, elk backstrap can be cooked and served as protein-packed meals for any night of the week. In this article, we’ll walk you through the steps for prepping, cooking, and serving elk backstrap.

What You’ll Need to Cook Elk Backstrap

The first step to prepare and cook elk backstrap is to gather the necessary ingredients and supplies. You will need the elk backstrap itself, as well as butter, canola oil, salt, pepper, and some herbs like thyme and rosemary. You will also need kitchen tools such as a cutting board, chef’s knife, and tongs. Finally, you may need a grill or a baking dish depending on which cooking method you choose.

Before you begin cooking, it is important to properly prepare the elk backstrap. Start by trimming away any fat or sinew from the meat. Then, season the meat with salt and pepper. If desired, you can also add herbs like thyme and rosemary for additional flavor. Once the meat is seasoned, you can begin cooking.

Preparing the Meat for Cooking

Once you have gathered the ingredients and supplies together, it is time to prepare the meat. Start by trimming away any external fat or membrane from the backstrap. Next, season the meat generously with salt and pepper. Finally, dot the surface of the meat with butter before wrapping it in a layer of herbs like thyme, rosemary, and oregano.

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Once the meat is prepared, it is ready to be cooked. Heat a skillet over medium-high heat and add a tablespoon of oil. When the oil is hot, add the meat and cook for 3-4 minutes per side, or until the internal temperature reaches 145°F. Once the meat is cooked, remove it from the skillet and let it rest for 5 minutes before serving.

Selecting the Right Cooking Method

When it comes to cooking elk backstrap, there are two main cooking methods you can choose from. Grilling offers a smoky flavor to your backstrap, while baking creates a juicy, tender steak. Both methods require cooking over high heat and can be done in less than 10 minutes of cook time.

When grilling, it is important to preheat the grill to a high temperature and use a thermometer to ensure the steak is cooked to the desired temperature. When baking, it is important to use a shallow baking dish and to baste the steak with butter or oil to keep it moist. Additionally, you can add herbs and spices to the steak to enhance the flavor.

Step-by-Step Instructions for Grilling Elk Backstrap

To grill elk backstrap, start by heating your grill to high heat. Rub the backstrap with canola oil to help prevent it from sticking to the grate. Place the backstrap on the hottest part of the grill and cook for three to four minutes per side. Once cooked, move the backstrap to a cooler part of the grill while still retaining some of the heat. Then, after allowing the steak to rest for five minutes, it’s ready to serve.

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When grilling elk backstrap, it’s important to keep an eye on the temperature of the grill. If the heat is too high, the steak can burn quickly. Additionally, it’s important to use a meat thermometer to ensure the steak is cooked to the desired temperature. For medium-rare, the internal temperature should be around 135°F. For medium, the internal temperature should be around 145°F.

Step-by-Step Instructions for Baking Elk Backstrap

For the baking method, preheat your oven to 400°F. Place the prepared backstrap in a baking dish and dot with remaining butter. Place the dish in the oven and bake for 10 minutes. Turn over the backstrap halfway through cooking. After 10 minutes of baking, remove from the oven and allow to rest for seven minutes before serving.

Serving Suggestions for Elk Backstrap

Elk backstrap pairs well with a variety of side dishes. Try steamed vegetables or roasted potatoes. Or, add some extra flavor with sautéed mushrooms or wilted greens. If serving alongside pastas or grains–such as rice or quinoa–a sprinkle of fresh herbs can make all the difference.

Tips for Perfectly Cooked Elk Backstrap

To create a perfectly cooked steak, make sure you don’t overcook it! Elk backstraps are very tender cuts of meat and overcooking will cause them to become tough and dry. It is best practice to use an instant-read thermometer to ensure accurate doneness. Remove your steak from heat when it’s five degrees below your target temperature. It will finish cooking as it rests.

Common Mistakes to Avoid When Cooking Elk Backstrap

When cooking elk backstrap avoid common pitfalls. Don’t heat the pan before adding oil or butter, as this can cause hot spots that can burn your steak before it has a chance to cook through. Make sure the pan is preheated enough so it’s hot enough before adding in the steak — watch out for smoke coming up from the pan! Finally, when grilling elk, be sure to turn over the steak only once or else you risk losing juices.

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