For Thanksgiving, we're thinking about doing something a little different than the typical turkey or ham. Thanks to my father having a successful hunting trip in Colorado this fall, I now have in my possession a large portion of perfectly trimmed elk tenderloin, measuring about 2 1/2 inches thick, 4 inches wide, and 24 inches long (give or take). The problem I'm having is making a decision as to how I should prepare it. The options are almost endless: marinated, dry rubbed, bacon-wrapped, seared, roasted, seared then roasted, braised, grilled, etc. Then there are sauces to consider: cumberland, hunter, demi, etc. I'd love to hear some suggestions and even some feedback if anyone has experience cooking a tenderloin of this size. I've cooked tenderloin medallions, but I think I want to leave this one whole.
Cooking Elk Tenderloin
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Because it is wild game I would go with Sous-Vide. Allows you to get edge to edge perfect Medium-Rare and pasteurization.
Sous-vide is an interesting idea. However, I'm hoping to leave the tenderloin whole for presentation, and I don't have the tools to cook a 24 inch cut sous-vide.
These are tricky and a lot of it will depend on the quality of the herd. What's the division of wildlife resources recommending as safe for cooking from that herd? What temperature range for safety? How much sage brush has it been eating? Sage Brush imparts a strong flavor that can be unpleasant.
While it's so lean it's better on the rare side, but will your guests like it like that?
I think I'd lean to thinly sliced pieces and use a quick high heat technique. Something like Korean barbecue technique though probably different flavors.
If you want to do it whole, buttermilk soak with garlic and seasonings, wrap in bacon or other fat and other flavorings, and use a rotisserie on a grill would be my choice.
This is also a time I might consider a brine to give the meat some extra juiciness and a more forgiving window of doneness. Cook's illustrated has done buttermilk brines for Fried Chicken recipes and that technique has some appeal for me here. just the brining, not frying. A Texas beer brine could be interesting perhaps.
Over the past few years, we've harvested a good number of elk from this same herd in the same area of Colorado. The area is in the mountains of central Colorado, and there really is no sage brush in the area to speak of. My bet is that sage consumption would have been little to none.
Shouldn't be a problem. I'm going to shoot for medium-rare with a long rest to try to reduce the bloodiness.
I have used buttermilk or milk with deer, especially when frying. I'm worried that using buttermilk might give roasted meat a sour taste that frying typically masks. I think a brine is a great idea though.