Pulled Elk Sandwiches
Courtesy of Chef John McGannon, wildeats.com
Those of us who have freezers full of wild game inevitably face a dilemma as last fall becomes a distant memory. We’re out ofbackstraps, sirloins and top rounds and left on our own to figure out how to use these remaining frozen morsels of potential goodness. The key word in that phrase is “potential.”
A couple years back, this column featured my WildEats Culinary Compass diagram, designed to achieve a delicious balance in any dish (January‑February 2010). As I developed the following recipe, I reflected on the Culinary Compass for answers to questions on the dish—namely, what ingredients do I use and how will they affect the balance of the dish?
To address richness, I added ingredients that have acid, like red wine and orange juice, and a touch of brown sugar to balance the acidity. I chose to use red chili flakes for heat and to balance the sweetness, and finally a little rendered bacon to add moisture and a great smoky flavor. The key to developing a successful blend of ingredients is to understand what each represents in the final dish. Once you’ve mastered that, your cooking experience (and outcomes) will be better than ever before.
After a few experiments, don’t be surprised if you start noticing that those bottom rounds (and other tougher cuts) aren’t the last to leave the confines of your freezer. Plus these wild game comfort foods are perfect for making large batches and refreezing to use later. In fact, most taste even better the second time around!
Pulled Elk Sandwiches
1 elk bottom round (or eye round or shoulder roast), cut in 2-inch-thick steaks
2 tbsp kosher or sea salt
4 tbsp WildEats Juniperberry & Peppercorn Rub, Just black peppercorns would work, too.
Rub the meat with the seasonings, cover and refrigerate for three days. This will slightly cure the meat and help retain its internal moisture.
1 cup rendered bacon fat
2 lg onions, diced
2 tbsp minced garlic
2 oranges, zested, peeled and seeds removed, cut into cubes
1 tsp red chili flakes
2 cups good-quality cabernet sauvignon wine
2 tbsp brown sugar
2 bay leaves
season with salt & pepper
1½ cups ketchup
1⁄2 cup Dijon mustard
Toasted buns (Add richness to your buns by spreading a thin layer of mayonnaise on them before toasting)
Sliced red onion
Green chilies or pepperocini’s
Once the meat has cured for three days, heat the bacon fat in a large sauté pan and sear the meat until browned. Place the meat into a crockpot. Sauté the garlic in the same pan until fragrant. Then add the onions and red chilies and lightly sauté. Add the wine and oranges. Scrape the bottom of the pan to remove any residue and bring to a boil. Once boiling, pour into the crockpot with the meat, adding sugar and bay leaves. Cover and set the crockpot on low. Allow the meat to cook for 5-6 hours, turning occasionally. When the meat can be easily shredded with a fork, it’s done. Shred all the meat and mix well with the liquid in the pot. Add ketchup and mustard. Cover and reheat to a simmer. Mix well before serving. You can now serve it as a sandwich, stuffing for turnovers or stuffed vegetables, in tacos or on top of pasta or rice.
John McGannon is chef/founder of Wildeats Enterprises, a life member of the RMEF, host of popular wild game cooking seminars at the foundation’s Elk Camp and a passionate hunter.