How to Cook Backstrap Elk Steak

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Successful elk hunters enjoy dining on the meat.
Successful elk hunters enjoy dining on the meat. (Image: Jupiterimages/Photos.com/Getty Images)

A member of the deer family, elk can be found browsing the forests of their native North America, and have also been successfully introduced into woodlands around the world. Bull elk are actively hunted during game season for their flavorful meat, which is lean, low in cholesterol and high in protein. Elk meat has become a popular specialty item both in meat shops and high-end restaurants. The backstrap steak cut is from the meat along the backbone of the elk and is particularly favored for its tenderness and flavor.

Things You'll Need

  • Backstrap steaks, 1/2- to 3/4-inch thick
  • Heavy frying pan, cast iron preferred
  • Steak seasoning salt
  • Dry red wine
  • Butter
  • Cutting board
  • Fork
  • Carving knife

Allow the steaks to come to room temperature; this may take one to two hours if the meat has been frozen. Pat the backstrap steaks dry with a clean paper towel after it has thawed, as dry steaks will sear better than steaks with a wet or damp surface.

Season the backstrap steaks with a dry steak seasoning mix or a combination of salt, pepper, garlic and onion powder; there are several commercial products available that are specifically made for seasoning wild game. Gently rub the dry mix into both sides of the steak. Seasoning the uncooked backstrap steak will enhance the flavor.

Heat the skillet on your stove on medium-high heat; the skillet must be hot in order to properly sear the meat surface quickly. Once the skillet is hot, add two tablespoons of butter; the melted butter will seal the steak's surface, keeping the meat juicy and tender.

Place the backstrap steaks in the hot melted butter in the frying pan. Cook on one side for 5 to 6 minutes, then turn the steak and cook on the other side for an additional 5 to 6 minutes. Seared backstrap steak should not be turned repeatedly, only once.

Remove the backstrap steak from the frying pan and set it on a cutting board to rest for approximately 10 to 15 minutes. The steak will continue to cook on the inside for several minutes while resting.

Return the frying pan to the stove, still set at medium-high heat. Once the pan has re-heated, add one cup of dry red wine to the pan and heat the wine for several minutes. This deglazes the pan, blending the meat's juices with the wine. When the wine has cooked for 4 to 5 minutes, add one tablespoon of butter to the hot wine and let it melt and blend into the mixture. Remove the pan with the wine/butter mixture from the stove.

Slice the seared backstrap steak at a diagonal in 1-inch strips. The outside of the steak should be crisp while the inside is reddish-pink and juicy. Serve the seared steak strips with the wine-butter sauce drizzled over the top.

References

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