Rocky Mountain Style Elk Gyros
Courtesy of Chef John McGannon, wildeats.com
The world in which we live is getting smaller. Globalization is making cuisines available from all over the world. There is an unlimited pool of flavor combinations and techniques that might not be your first consideration when contemplating how you’re going to use those frozen chunks of elk burger. Here is a great Greek recipe with a Rocky Mountain twist. Traditionally, gyros are made with beef and lamb. I prefer to match up elk with pork, which has a neutral flavor. This allows the flavor of the elk meat to stand on its own.
4 lbs ground elk meat
4 lbs ground pork shoulder
2 medium onions, cut into chunks
4 tbsp fresh minced garlic
3 tbsp fresh oregano or 4 tsp dried
3 tbsp fresh thyme or 4 tsp dried
4 tsp ground toasted cumin seeds
3 tbsp fresh rosemary, chopped fine, or 3 tsp dried
4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
4 tbsp kosher or sea salt
Sliced red onion, tzatziki sauce, sliced tomatoes, lettuce, grilled/toasted pita bread
Place the onion in a food processor and process until smooth. Traditionally, the ground onion is placed in a cloth and the juice is squeezed out. I prefer to keep the onion juice as a moisture replacement for the lack of fat in the lean elk meat.
Place all the ingredients in a large mixing bowl and blend well. Take small batches of this mixture and place in a food processor. Process this mixture for 15-20 seconds. Repeat this until all the meat mixture is processed. Place mixture in a refrigerator overnight, which helps the flavors develop.
At this point you can separate this mixture into smaller loaf pans or cook the entire batch as is. Cover the mixture with parchment paper and then seal with aluminum foil. Place in a preheated 350-degree F oven until you get an internal temperature of 165-degree F. The time will vary depending on the size of the pan you chose. A 5x9-inch loaf pan will take 90-120 minutes. A larger pan may take up to three hours.
Once you reach 165 degrees, remove from the oven. Place the pan on a sheet pan (to catch any surplus liquid from spilling). Then, to press the gyro loaf, place a container filled with water on top of the loaf. Be sure the container is similar to the size of the loaf. This will compact the loaf and make it easy to slice. It can be served right away or wrapped tightly and stored in the freezer for a later date.
To reheat the gyro, wrap loaf in aluminum foil and heat in a 350°F oven until hot. Toast the pita bread and serve with lettuce, tomato and tzatziki sauce. This dish can be served as a lunch item or you can cut the pita into smaller-sized pieces and serve it as hors d’oeuvres.
John McGannon is a RMEF life member, host of wild game cooking seminars at Elk Camp and owner of WildEats Enterprises.