How to Cook Elk Backstrap

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Raw elk meat has less than 3 percent fat, which meets the American Heart Association's official definition of a low-fat food.
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Whenever you find elk backstrap for sale, it's worth snapping up, as it produces the most delicious dinner party worthy meals with minimal fuss. Whether it's elk backstrap cooked sous vide, a simple steak or a delicious grilled elk roast, an elk backstrap recipe is always a treat.

According to USDA analysis, raw elk meat has less than 3 percent fat, which meets the American Heart Association's official definition of a low-fat food. Elk is also a good source of anemia-protective iron, with 3.1 milligrams in a 4-ounce serving.

You might see elk backstrap designated as "loin" instead. According to the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation, the backstrap, aka loin, runs the length of the backbone and provides the best steaks, save perhaps for the tenderloins, which are found opposite the backstrap, tucked up under the spine, just forward of the pelvis.

Read more: How Healthy Is Venison Meat?

Elk Backstrap Sous Vide

Although there is no one definitive way to cook game meat such as elk, the sous vide method — in which the meat is cooked in a bath of water — is recommended by the Auguste Escoffier School of Culinary Arts. They say this method means the meat is almost impossible to overcook.

It's best to follow your sous vide maker's instructions to cook the precise weight of elk backstrap you are using correctly. The Institute of Food Technologists recommends not going above a temperature of 140 degrees Fahrenheit as meat fiber contraction occurs horizontally up to that temperature, retaining most of the water (juiciness) between the fibers.

As the temperature rises above 140 F, the shrinkage becomes longitudinal and the fibers can no longer hold much of the water inside the meat, so it becomes tougher.

It's worth noting, however, that the Minnesota Department of Health says that elk steak should be cooked to a minimum temperature of 145 F to be guaranteed safe: You should definitely use this temperature for pregnant women, children, older adults and people with weakened immune systems, who the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics recommend should avoid all raw and undercooked meats.

Tip

For a balanced meal, serve elk backstrap with plant-based sides, such as whole-grain rice and grilled veggies. Or you could try teaming it with our Vegetable Stuffed Acorn Squash or tasty Grilled Italian Eggplant Caprese Salad.

Grilled Elk Roast and Steaks

If you fancy trying a grilled elk roast, here's the skinny on how to make this elk backstrap recipe taste just perfect:

First use a store-bought or homemade dry rub. Any combination of granulated garlic, onion powder, salt, pepper, brown sugar and cayenne works well. Then, using a marinade injector (from stores that sell kitchen or grilling utensils), inject with half beef stock and half hot bacon fat. Or for a healthier fat, use olive oil. This will prevent the grilled elk roast drying out during cooking.

Grill at 250 to 300 F on a charcoal or gas grill until the internal temperature reaches 145 F. Leave three minutes to rest as per USDA guidelines and then serve.

The American Indian Health and Diet Project recommends serving simply marinated elk steaks cut from the backstrap. For the marinade use a clove of crushed garlic and half a minced white onion with half a cup of low salt soy sauce. Put the meat into a container and cover with marinade for at least four hours. You can either cook the meat in a frying pan on medium-high with 1 tablespoon of oil or on the grill, turning after five to 10 minutes.

Read more: 15 of the Best Lean Animal Proteins

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