Elk Backstrap

June 4, 2022

A red wine, shallot, juniper, black peppercorn, and thyme sauce are all that’s needed to transform it into a fine steak.

Aside from the occasional steak, I’m not a big fan of meat. Elk backstrap is a unique ingredient that Matt of Wrightfood and I felt would be perfect for a guest post on Rasa Malaysia because I have no idea how to prepare it.

Matt’s site initially caught my eye several months ago, and I’ve been addicted ever since. Matt’s seafood dishes (you know how much I adore seafood) look like they came straight out of the kitchen of Michael Mina. Matt of Wrightfood is here to discuss his elk backstrap recipe and the tale behind it, so please join me in welcoming him.

Having a non-Asian recipe on Rasa Malaysia is refreshing, and I hope you like this guest post.

Elk Backstrap Recipe

Our guest writer for today is Wrightfood.

The recipe for this dish has been on my list for a long time. Danika’s father received a call a few months ago from a buddy asking whether Matt would like any meat if he went elk hunting.

I wasn’t expecting much, to be honest. Danika’s father always comes back with a small amount of meat with this guy. They return slightly fitter and a little more hungry than when they left.

I don’t know if this elk was sleeping or not, but he somehow ended up being shot… Following the jump, you’ll find the story as well as the recipe.

Danika’s father made a short phone call to me, and I returned the ring to his acquaintance, and everything was set up. After all, it was a freebie and what mattered at the moment was the quality of the cuts I received. Fortunately, I was able to get a backstrap, a top and bottom round, and a sleeve.

However, because the back strap is such an excellent cut for salumi (more on that in a moment), I had to take an entirely different technique when it came time to prepare it.

My perverse sense of humor sparked a flurry of activity. While discussing the elk with Danika’s mother, she mentioned that the elk disgusted her. Oh my gosh, I’m so sorry.

That’s something she should have avoided bringing up. We made up our minds right away. The elk was supposed to be mine. When I told her it was steak, she would love it. That was my plan all along.

It’s time to learn more about Danika’s mother. Because she likes wine, she’ll probably eat whatever I make with it. Assuming I prepare something in fat, she’s likely to consume it. Basically, she’s got her head screwed on correctly! My reasoning was that we wouldn’t have any problems as long as I had those two essential elements.

When it comes to the game, I love the flavor of juniper berries. Despite its name, it isn’t a berry but rather a seed. The taste of this dish is beyond description..a little bit harsh, but also slightly flowery and a little bit earthy.

That doesn’t really make things any more transparent, does it? You’ll need to hit the “berry” with the side of a knife to get the flavor out of it before you can eat it.

When it’s still winter in Seattle, roasted root veggies are still my favorite food. In addition to parsnips, turnips are my favorite veggie.

Add some potatoes to the mix, and I won’t be upset at all. Just so happens that the juniper/red wine reduction might finish out a little sharp, but I think another sweeter veg will work nicely with the sauce I was planning.

For one thing, I always have a supply in the freezer. It’s possible to keep it frozen for a long time. LARD. Here it is once again: that excellent rendered pork fat, folks.

Lard has a bad rap, but I’m sure many people hurry to the gym or their cardiologist when they hear about it. It has a healthier fat profile than olive oil and is even better than butter. The hydrogenated fat marg is fine, but I’ll stick to my bacon grease. The cardiologist will see someone else first, and I can tell you who it is.

Roasting is an excellent use for lard. Even better than goose fat, which is even better than duck fat. Roasted vegetables that are full of flavor and crisp are what we all crave.

When you work with it, your fingers will smell amazing, too. Many believe it was invented to keep warm in winter, but if that is true, they may as well have made perfume at that time.

So, how is the backstrap prepared?? So I ate it like a fine steak, you might say. It was about an inch thick when I cut it into medallions. I preheat a cast iron pan to a very high temperature.

Grapeseed oil is added to the mix (great for high heat, you know). Get it on fire. A few medallions are inserted. If you’re fortunate, it all goes up in flames. Indeed, it’s just right. Continue on without it. The first side is seared for a few minutes, then the second side is roasted for a few minutes.

You can finish cooking them in the pan, transfer them to a roasting pan, or bake them in the oven, as desired. Because I had a lot of medallions to cook, I went with the second option. Due to its slight texture, overcooking the meat to anything other than medium-rare will result in a chewy mess.

It’s a cinch to make. When the wine, shallot, peppercorns, and herbs were blended in a small pan, the result was an aromatic, flavorful concoction.

I shut it off when it was a fourth of its original volume. The final step was to add beef stock (or veal if you have it) and let it drop to around half its original volume. A small amount of butter is stirred in to add some depth to the flavor.

Let’s see what happened to the elk now.

“This is a fantastic steak, Matt.”

That’s all there is to say about that. Elk has been a favorite of hers. In addition to that, after the meal, I did tell her what she had just consumed.

What is the average number of calories in one serving?

  • Each serving of this recipe contains only 602 calories.

With this recipe, what are its complementary dishes?

I’ve compiled a collection of recipes that are both healthy and quick enough to prepare on a weeknight.



  • 4 sprigs thyme
  • 5 black peppercorns
  • 6 juniper berries, crushed
  • 6 turnips, cut into 3″ pieces
  • 2 lb. (0.9 kg) elk backstrap
  • 2 glasses robust red wine
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 tbsps. lard or olive oil for roasting
  • 6 small parsnips, cut into 3″ pieces
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • Grapeseed/olive oil for cooking the elk.
  • 2 cups beef stock
  • 1 small shallot, diced


  1. Set the oven temperature up to 400°F (204°C). To get the roasting pan ready, put it into the oven while heating. The pan should be taken out of the range, and then the fat should be added to the pan once it has heated up. To keep this pan piping hot, place it on a stove burner. Pour in the turnip and parsnips after the lard has melted. Gently mix the vegetables to coat them in the grease, then return them to the oven. Roasting time is around 45 minutes. Reduce the heat of the oven to 370°F (187°C) halfway through cooking, predominantly brown vegetables.
  2. A small pot should be filled with red wine, shallots, juniper, peppercorns, and thyme. Boil this until it’s reduced to a quarter of its original volume, then strain it. To this, add the beef stock. It should be roughly half the size it was when it started. Keep a tiny portion of the mixture aside in the pan while you strain the rest.
  3. Approximately 15 minutes before your vegetables are done, begin grilling your elk steaks. Get a heavy frying pan, like cast iron, on the stove and heat it up. It’s scorchingly hot in here. Salt and pepper the medallions to taste. To start the pan smoking, add a small amount of oil. With tongs in hand, carefully insert the elk. Take care of any blazes that may occur. Cook the meat until it gets a nice crust on both sides, about a minute or two per side. You have two options at this point: reduce the heat and cook until done to your satisfaction, or bake them for a few more minutes.
  4. During the last stages of cooking the vegetables and elk, bring the sauce back up to temperature.
  5. Keep warm by whisking in the butter after it has been heated through.
  6. Before serving, allow the elk meat to rest for a few minutes. Add some roasted vegetables and some of the sauce to the plate.
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