Elk and Heart Stew

This is what we ate for dinner last night  – a hearty stew made from elk stew meat (really need to ask what cuts they use for this!) and some (grassfed) beef heart that I had in the freezer.

I have to say that it was absolutely delicious!  Rich, meaty, and satisfying

Elk meat does not need lots of cooking – in fact most of the time you need to serve it as rare as you can stomach it, but in this instance it can take a long cooking time (which is necessary to make the heart tender as this tends to be fairly tough)….  they key to having tender elk and tender heart is to keep the stew barely simmering for the long cooking time…  the long moist  cooking tenderizes the heart but prevents the elk from becoming tough and dry.

This is an AIP-friendly meal that includes organ meats (the heart), bone broth and lots of good-for-you veggies.  It does contain wine, but the alcohol will evaporate during the long cooking.  This can be left out if it is a problem for you, just replace it with an equal volume of bone broth.

If you can’t source elk meat, I am sure that this would work equally well with any of the tougher cuts of beef  or even bison. And you could probably make it out of all heart meat as well if you wanted to..  in fact I bet that would taste awesome!

Elk and Heart Stew

serves 6 with plenty of leftovers

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  • 1lb elk stew meat
  • 1½lb grass-fed beef heart
  • 1-2 tbsp fat of your choice (I used bacon fat)
  • 2 large onions – chopped
  • 4 large carrots – peeled, trimmed and chopped into chunks
  • 3 large parsnips – peeled, trimmed and chopped into chunks
  • 2 sticks celery – cut into chunks
  • 3 cloves garlic – peeled and crushed
  • 8oz mushrooms – quartered
  • 1 cup red wine (optional – replace with bone broth)
  • 3-4 cups bone broth (beef broth is ideal but use whatever you have on hand)
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 tsp dried thyme
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • ½tsp ground cinnamon
  • ¼tsp ground ginger
  • ½ cup fresh parsley – chopped
  • sea salt to taste

The first thing you need to do is to cut your elk meat and heart into cubes – about 1″ square, but you don’t need to be to finicky about out….  rough approximation is fine…  Season the meat with salt and pepper.

Melt your fat in a large, heavy-based pot over a medium-high heat, and add a few of the cubes of meat.  Don’t add them all at once, you want to sear (or brow) the meat, not stew it.  It is far better to do lots of small batches than one huge batch.  Sear the meat on all sides and then remove to a bowl.  Add more fat as you need to.

Once the meat is all seared, reduce the heat to medium-low and add the onions, carrots, parsnip, celery and garlic. Toss and allow to soften for 5-10 minutes.  Now add the wine and deglaze any crusty, caremelized bits of the base of the pan.  Add the seared meat and any juices that have accumulated in the bowl, the broth, the mushrooms and all the herbs and spices and simmer on a very gentle heat for around 3 hours.

Do not allow the stew to boil or your meat will become tough.

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Just before serving taste the stew and adjust the seasoning with extra salt as necessary.

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I served this with a side of steamed broccoli and cauliflower, but you could use whatever veg you fancy.

Elk Osso Bucco

First of all, I apologize for not posting for a while….  life got a little crazy round here in Salixisme-land…

Being a massage therapist, I have to do a certain amount of “continuing education” (ie training courses).  Over the last weekend, this was what I was doing.

I did a fire-cupping course on both Saturday and Sunday and now I can offer cupping-massages, or even just use the cupping as part of my normal massages (it is fantastic for trigger-point release). It was a fun weekend…  nothing like playing with fire!

In addition to this, it was our wedding anniversary.  So on Saturday evening, we visited Charcut in downtown Calgary (more on that in another post).  It was a wonderful meal and I ate far too much!  And C had her first ever parade with the Roundup band on Saturday as well.  She was performing at the Santa-claus parade in Fort Mcleod.

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Yesterday I was at work, and considering all the snow that Calgary has been having over the last 2 days, it was a long day.  And on my way home, I experienced the scariest bus ride of my life!  There was so much snow and the roads had not been cleared and there were buses sliding all over the place, loads of accidents and buses getting stuck everywhere…  And the traffic was really slow due to the road-conditions, so my normal 45 minute commute took over 2 hours.  NOT FUN!  By the time I finally got home, I was bitterly cold and I was not in the mood to write a post at all.  All  wanted to do was to collapse in a hot bath with a glass of wine!

Anyhow, back to the recipe:

I love elk meat, and being a lean, wild meat, it is perfectly Paleo.  We don’t eat a lot of it, but when we get the chance to go to the Calgary Farmers Market, we always make sure to visit the Wapiti Ways stand and buy some elk (usually stew meat, liver and hearts).  The last time we were there, he pointed out some sliced elk shanks, and mentioned that they would be perfect for long, slow cooking (most elk is so lean that it needs to be cooked quickly or it becomes tough and inedible).

As soon as I saw the elk shanks, I was thinking “Osso Bucco”…  and that is what I made with this wonderful meat.

This recipe contains tomatoes which are an AIP stage 4 reintroduction.  When reintroducing foods on the AIP, I recommend this guide.

Elk Osso Bucco

serves 6

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  • 6 thick slices of elk shank (mine were around 1″ thick), bone in
  • coconut oil to sautee
  • 4 rashers of bacon – chopped (we use pastured bacon that we get from Spraggs Meat Shop)
  • 2 onions – peeled and chopped
  • 4 carrots – peeled and chopped
  • 4 sticks of celery – chopped
  • zest and juice of 1 lemon
  • 6 cloves of garlic – crushed
  • 4 tomatoes – diced
  • 2 sprigs of fresh thyme
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 bottle of dry red wine
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1/4 cup fresh cilantro – diced
  • 1/4 cup fresh parsley – diced
  • olive oil

First of all you need to sear the elk in a hot pan with a little coconut oil added.  Cook for 1 minute per side until golden brown.  Remove the elk and place it to one side.

Add the chopped bacon to the pan and cook over a medium heat until the fat runs and the bacon is starting to crip.  Add the onion and 2 cloves of garlic and cook over a gentle heat until the onion is translucent.  Add in the carrots and celery, and then add the thyme, bay leaf, lemon juice and pour in the entire bottle of red wine.  Add the tomatoes and simmer gently until the vegetables are tender and the wine is reduced by at least half.  Taste and season with salt and pepper.

Nestle the elk shanks on top of the veggies and cook, covered, over a low heat for 1½ – 2 hours until the elk is tender but not falling apart.  Turn or baste the elk every  ½ hour.

While the elk is cooking, place the cilantro, parsley and 4 cloves of garlic in a food processor along with the lemon zest and a glug of olive oil.  Pulse until coarsely chopped to make a gremolata.

Serve the elk with mashed vegetables (I used mashed rutabaga) and greens and spoon over the gravy and some of the veggies.

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Sprinkle the gremolata over and serve at once.

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Just look at that wonderful bone marrow in there!

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When I scooped it out and ate it, it was rich, creamy and delicious!  And the elk shanks themselves were perfectly cooked and very tasty.

Elk Liver

This stuff does not look pretty but it really does taste awesome…  and it is one of the most nutritionally dense meals you could eat.  elkliver3

We tend to eat elk liver at least once a week.  We buy it from Wapiti Ways at the Calgary Farmers Market, and sometimes we even get a discount for recommending it to other people…  there was one couple the other week dithering about whether to buy it and we told them how wonderful it was and they bought it. And when we came to pay for our purchase (elk liver and elk heart), we got a very healthy discount…  Thank you Wapiti Ways! 🙂

Most of the time I cook elk liver very simply – it does not need long cooking…  3 minutes per side if that, and quite often  I will cook it for a lot less…  this is something that you WANT to eat rare…  overcook it and it turns to leather.

This is also one of the more economical meals that I cook..  while it doesn’t seem like enough, one packet of liver is so nutritionally dense that it will feed all 6 of us. Especially when it is paired with some greens…

It does not look all that promising but will taste fantastic once cooked.

It does not look all that promising but will taste fantastic once cooked.

So how do you cook this wonderous stuff?

I would recommend as simply as you can…

Season with salt, maybe a bit of garlic or herbs if you are in the mood and simply panfry for no more than 2 minutes per side (they guy at Wapiti Ways told us 3 minutes per side but it needs less than that…  we like it bloody as hell!)

Then serve with whatever takes your fancy…  in the pic above we briefly stir-fried some ruby chard and divided  that between 6 plates.  Then we sat a piece of cooked elk liver on top and finally topped it with caramelized onions cooked with pastured bacon….

An awesome meal!