Elk Blanquette with Roasted Autumn Mushrooms
Courtesy of Chef John McGannon, wildeats.com
As the autumn air starts to chill the high country, old, black iron caldrons are pulled from their summer storage. And there’s nothing quite like the seductive aroma of slowly braised cubes of elk steak cooked with fresh vegetables, a rich broth, wine reduction and a splash of bourbon. Add a buttery puff pastry atop it all, and you have a pot pie that will warm your soul.
Yields approximately 1⁄2 gallon or 6-8 servings
2½-3 lbs cubed elk shoulder, bottom or eye round, with silver skin/tendons removed
salt and pepper to taste
3 tbsp WildEats Lemon Garlic & Sage Rub (optional)
1 cup flour for dusting
3 tbsp bacon fat or cooking oil
1 cup high-quality white wine
1 qt beef stock or broth
3 cups diced celery
3 cups diced leeks (or onions)
2 tbsp fresh garlic
2 bay leaves
2 lbs roasted crimini, shiitake, morel, chanterelle, portabella or porcini mushrooms, tossed with salt, pepper, garlic and olive oil, and roast at 325°F for 20-30 minutes
zest of a lemon
1⁄2 cup quality bourbon
1 cup sour cream
seasonal vegetables, garden herbs
egg wash (1 egg yolk mixed well with 2 oz. water, and a pinch of salt and sugar
Lightly dust the elk cubes with the lemon garlic and sage rub, salt, pepper and flour. Heat up the bacon fat or oil in a sauté pan. In small batches, quickly sear the meat until blond. Try not to brown the meat as this will affect the color of the final product. Remember, you are shooting for a white sauce. When the meat is seared, move it to a crockpot or heavy-gauge saucepot. Deglaze the sauté pan with the wine, simmer until reduced to just about dry. Scrape the residue from the pan into the crock pot with the meat. Add the stock and vegetables (celery, leeks, garlic) you can add additional vegetables if you like at the end of the cooking process. Bring this to a simmer and slowly cook until the meat is almost tender (2 hours in a pot or for as much as 5-6 hours in a slow crockpot).
On the side, toss the mushrooms with salt, pepper and garlic and lay them on a sheet pan. Place them into an oven at 325° F for 20-30 minutes. This evaporates the moisture of the mushrooms and intensifies their flavor. Set aside until the meat is almost done.
When the meat is almost tender add the roasted mushrooms, sour cream, bourbon and lemon zest. Stir well and bring back to a simmer. Adjust the seasonings to taste. Each of these last ingredients gives a specific property to the final flavor.
At this point you can eat this Blanquette as is or cool it and place into ramekins. Garnished with your favorite seasonal vegetables and herbs. Cut the puff pastry into circles large enough to cover the ramekins. Brush the egg wash around the edge and place the puff pastry over the top. Press the pastry around the edge of the ramekins. Eggwash the top of the pastry. Place the ramekins on a sheet pan and into a 365°F oven. Bake until golden brown, 30-45 minutes. Remove, serve and enjoy.
John McGannon is a RMEF life member, host of wild game cooking seminars at Elk Camp and owner of WildEats Enterprises.