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Monday, July 09, 2007

the other red meat?

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Pretty much everyone has heard the ad campaigns positioning pork as "the other white meat" - from my personal perspective, a dry, nasty alternative to chicken (he - sorry, not really a pork fan here....I always equate pork chops and the like to hard, dry protein pucks that must be endured). And yes, pork fans, you are welcome to try to convert me with any recipes you might have to share...

So to say I'm leery of 'alternative' animal proteins is more than fair. But that said, I've also made no secret of the fact that I'm super leery of most modern farming practices. In fact, they make me sick. Really, really sick (some fun education material here: Toxin by Robin Cook, a novel I read at the tender and impressionable age of turned me off almost all meat for a couple of years, so it's not for the weak of heart; for a little less time investment, you could watch Fast Food Nation, a somewhat diluted look at the farm in terms of factory, and of course, there is always the fabulous (and only five minute) Meatrix exploring the vast wrongdoings of industrial agriculture).

All that to say that it's a huge breath of fresh air when there is a local farmer doing something a little different...something that is humane, environmentally sustainable and healthier. How can you go wrong?

And what is this magic meat?

It's elk. Not too far from where I live is a fabulous elk ranch, hidden away admist trees and forest, where you'll find naturally-raised, grass-fed animals. I'm not going to go too much more into the details of the elk themselves, as that's the topic for this week's FoodTV post (will post link when it's posted), but suffice to say, this is a great alternative to beef.

This wasn't my first encounter with elk. I actually met a few of the rather large beasts a couple of years ago at Parc Omega. In fact, there's even photographic proof of this past encounter. First, this rather ginormous creature ambled up to our car (which barely even made it into the park in the first place, given the hills/snow/ice combo) and smeared his nose ALL OVER THE WINDOW and completely and totally freaked me out because of his utter hugeness...

a close encounter of the elk kind

Yep, that's me on the right, jaw agape and slightly panicked. Anyway, then this monstrous creature (okay, so he seemed relatively friendly, but he was GIGANTIC, PEOPLE) ambled away, showing us his better (more tender?) side...

a piece of ass?

BAHAHAHA. Anyway, that was my past acquaintaince with elk. I'd definitely never eaten it and was more than a little terrified of it. I'm a very glad to say that it was a wholly positive experience for all involved (except, perhaps, the, uh...elk) and that I would definitely recommend everyone try it. The ranchers, Fay and Thom, are lovely people who can be found weekly at both the Carp and Lansdowne Farmers' markets. So what are you waiting for...go find them! It's tasty and even I, who really am not interested in game-y meats, really enjoy it.

I had hubs grill the elk and I served it on a bed of greens with grilled curry-glazed vegetables. It was fabulous - a perfect balance of tang and sweet, with the rich flavour of grilled meat. This was an awesome dinner for a Sunday night. :)

Maple Balsamic Elk Salad with Curry-Glazed Vegetables

2 6-oz elk top sirloin (you could subsitute beef, but you should definitely try to find yourself some elk!)

Grill elk to medium-rare (2-3 minutes per side) and let rest for 5-10 minutes.
grilled elk

1 red onion
1 yellow pepper
1 zucchini
1 tomato
2 T balsamic vinegar
1 T olive oil
1 T indian curry paste (I used vindaloo)
4 skewers

1. Cut vegetables very coarsely (into sizes you'd want to put on a skewer!).

2. In a small bowl, combine oil, vinegar and curry paste.
curry glaze for veggies

3. Thread veggies onto skewer.
skewered veggies

4. Brush with glaze and grill to desired doneness. (you can continue to baste them as they cook - it will be even yummier). The balsamic vinegar imparts a nice tangy sweetness.

2 T balsamic vinegar
2 T olive oil
2 T maple syrup
2 T dijon mustard
salt, pepper

1. Wash, dry and chop lettuce.
2. Combine vinegar, oil, maple syrup and mustard.
balsamic maple dressing

3.Taste the dressing and adjust if it's not to your liking (if it's too sweet, add either some white vinegar or more mustard, if it's too acidic, add a little more oil).

To serve:
1. Dress plate with lettuce. Arrange veggies on top. Top with slices of grilled elk and drizzle vinaigrette over top. Mmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm......this was a wonderful, and slightly indulgent-feeling meal. A great match with a bold red wine.

grilled elk salad with curry glazed vegetables and maple balsamic dressing


Janet said...

That looks great! Something I will have to try sometime.. You ever eaten at the Arrow and the Loon (Bank and Fifth)? They have lots of yummy but "different" things that actually taste good - Bison, elk...

Anonymous said...

I'm a semi regular customer of Fay & Thoms' You have to try their Elk burgers, they put a bit of olive oil in the mix for moistness. hmm that may be dinner tonight

Anonymous said...

Mmm. Sounds good.

Speaking of "game meat", I know you probably don't get reindeer in Canada, but if you ever, by some miraculous way, get your hands on cold smoked reindeer, try it. Seriously. One of the best things in the world.

Renee said...

I love LOVE that picture of the elk looking in the car window! Very cute site.

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