Have you ever eaten elk before?
Have you ever wondered what eating game is like? You’ll be surprised at how good it really is. I could see how some people can get a little freaked out. I think, mostly because when we’re talking about elk, people will envision that the taste will be chewy, gamey and not very delicious, which is, not at all accurate.
What we’ll be making today is elk chili from scratch with a oregano crème fraîche and a jalapeño cornbread. Before you grab your hunting gear and head for the woods, you may want to learn some interesting facts about elk:
Elk meat tastes like beef but it’s flavors are more defined.
There’s only 31 calories in an ounce of elk meat. With 0% carbs, 12% fat and 88% protein, you can rest assured that elk won’t make you fat.
Eating a serving of elk meat will give you an entire day’s worth of phosphorus, zinc, niacin, iron and vitamin B-12. These come in handy in strengthening your immune system.
Since elk are wild, they eat purely their natural diet rather than cheap animal feed. They are superior to ordinary farm raised meats you’ll find at the store. One of the best meals you can make from wild game is elk chili. Similar to beef, it has a slightly darker red color to it and is much more tender and dense.
Elk meat can be cooked in different ways to suit your preference: ground, roast or slow cooked/stewed in a pot. The secret to tender elk meat is preventing moisture loss during the preparation and cooking process, slow and low. This will give you juicy and tender elk chili.
Elk Chili Peppers
The peppers must be roasted and blistered, that’s what gives this chili its pizzazz. . .
I like to use a variety of peppers in the chili, well, because it not only helps to add and complement the taste, but, it’s not really chili without chili’s. That being said, we have to watch our heat content (not because I don’t like heat) but because it’s all about balance, you want to feel all of those wonderful flavors and sensations happening in your mouth.
That being said, we’ll put bell peppers in, specifically the red and yellow ones because they’ve got some great eye popping color to brighten your chili.
Next, you’ll want to use some shishito peppers, these are mild and sweet east Asian chili peppers. Make sure they’re green and wrinkly before you roast them, They have thin walls that blister and char easily which gives a tender rich flavor.
Anaheim chilies add heat and complex flavor without melting your face off, but they are often overlooked in favor of their cousin the jalapeño.
Lastly, we use the poblano chili pepper in our chili, also known as ancho. This is an ideal choice for elk chili. It’s heat is just enough for a zesty flavor without scorching you.
The mixture of all these together really highlights the elk and has a great intense flavor. You’ll need quite a bit of salt to make the elk flavor pop out. I do this by adding beef stock base, there is so much concentrated flavor and salt in there, you’ll see your chili really come up to the next level. My secret weapon is to use some fresh lemon juice for an acid because there are no tomatoes or beans in this chili.
The only herbage in this chili will be in the creme fraiche, which is just finely chopped oregano and a sour cream and buttermilk mixture. The jalapeno cornbread is really straight forward and if you have a cast iron skillet it’ll be that much better.
Feel free to season the chili if you like yours a bit hotter, but make sure not to make it too hot, you don’t want to ruin the elk flavor or melt your face off.
Elk Chili with an Oregano Crème Fraîche and Jalapeño Cornbread
What we’ll be making today is elk chili from scratch with a oregano crème fraîche and a jalapeño cornbread.
Chef and a Baker: Chef and a Baker
Recipe type: Main
- 2 pounds elk stew meat
- 1 yellow onion, diced
- 1 head of celery, diced
- 4 cloves of roasted garlic
- 3 roasted and rough cut poblano peppers
- 3 roasted and rough cut anaheim peppers
- 3 roasted and rough cut shishito peppers
- 3 roasted and rough cut red and yellow bell peppers
- 5 bay leaves
- beef stock base
- 2 gallons of water
- 3 cups bacon fat
- 2 cups fresh lemon juice
- creme fraiche:
- 1 cup buttermilk
- 1 cup sour cream
- 2 tablespoons fresh oregano, chopped
- Jalapeno cornbread:
- 1 Tbsp canola oil
- 1 cup cornmeal
- 1 cup all purpose flour
- 2 teaspoons baking soda
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ¾ cup plain yogurt
- ½ cup milk
- 1 egg
- 5 Tbsp unsalted butter, melted
- ½ cup to 1 cup finely chopped, drained pickled jalapeños or fresh jalapeños (depending on how spicy you want your cornbread to be)
- ½ cup fresh or frozen corn kernels
- ½ cup grated Monterey jack or cheddar cheese
- Elk Chili:
- Sear elk stew pieces in bacon fat
- Add celery and onion and garlic
- Add 5 bay leaves
- Blister all peppers on an open fire, and when cooled rough chop and add to chili
- Add 2 cups of beef base and 2 cups of water and let braise in large pot at low heat for 2 hours
- Taste and adjust with salt and pepper and add 2 cups fresh lemon juice
- Creme Fraiche:
- Mix finely chopped oregano into buttermilk and sour cream mixture
- Jalapeno cornbread
- Preheat the skillet: Put the canola oil in a 9 or 10 inch cast iron skillet and place the skillet in the oven. Heat oven to 400°F with the skillet inside.
- Whisk together the dry ingredients: In a large bowl, whisk together the cornmeal, flour, baking soda and salt.
- Whisk together the yogurt, milk, egg: In a separate bowl, whisk together the yogurt, milk, and egg.
- Combine wet with dry and add the butter, chiles, corn, and cheese: Pour the wet ingredients into the bowl of dry ingredients and stir to combine.
- Stir in the melted butter, the chopped jalapeños, corn, and cheese.
- Pour batter into hot skillet: Once the oven has reached 400°F and the skillet is hot, carefully remove the empty skillet from the oven (double up the pot holders, the handle is hot!). Pour the cornbread batter into the skillet, and smooth the surface with a wooden spoon or spatula.
- Bake: Return the skillet to the oven and bake for 20 to 25 minutes, until lightly browned on top and a skewer inserted into the center comes out clean.
- Let rest before cutting: Let the jalapeño cornbread rest in the skillet for 10 to 20 minutes before cutting wedges and serving. Remember that the skillet is still very HOT. I recommend keeping a pot holder draped over the handle, or rubbing the handle with ice to cool it down.