Monday, October 24, 2011

Recipe: Crock Pot Elk Stew

My obsession with my recently purchased crock pot seems only to grow as time passes. Now I understand why there are blogs devoted to recipes for this marvelous slow cooker tool.  It is lovely to mix a bunch of ingredients together and then ignore them, knowing that over a number of hours they will slowly cook together and make a meal.  Chicken has turned out especially well, easy to shred and full of flavor.  With that success behind me, I decided to tackle a much more daunting hurdle: elk.

Elk, like most game meat, tastes, well, gamey.  When I first made elk, I used plenty of garlic and soy sauce to leech the gaminess from the meat, but there was no disguising the roast for what it was: great for fajitas (where the strong flavors mask the gamey bits), but I wondered what else I could do with it.  At the time, I thought that marinating overnight and/or slow cooking it in the oven could be an option.  Then the package of elk roast was hidden in the freezer, covered by frozen fruits and vegetables, and I forgot about it...until now.

Crock pot + elk + hours of cooking = possible incredible meal.

I found this recipe and a few others for elk stew or elk stroganoff.  I most closely followed the linked recipe but of course had a few of my own variations.

Crock Pot Elk Stew

    Elk roast (I used one package -- maybe that's a pound?) 2 medium russet potatoes, chopped 3 long carrots, chopped 1 yellow onion, diced 1.5 TBSP minced garlic (I like a lot of garlic and it helps mask game flavors) 3 sticks of celery, including leaves, chopped 1 pkg dry onion soup mix 2 cans cream of celery soup (I would've used cream of mushroom but we were all out) 2-3 cans of water
    1/4-1/3 c. low-sodium soy sauce
    1 small acorn squash (from our garden!)
    1 TBSP red pepper flakes (use less if you don't like spice)
    1/2 TBSP chicken bullion powder
    garlic salt (to taste)
    sugar (to taste -- about 1/2 TBSP)

Put soy sauce in the bottom of the crock pot.

Open package of elk meat, rinse it, pat dry, and put in the bottom of the crock pot (over the soy sauce).  Spread garlic over the top.  

Add onions and celery, then sprinkle onion soup mix and other spices (all except garlic salt and sugar) over the top.

Add potatoes, squash, and then pour creamed soup and water over everything.

Cook on high for three hours. Take out the elk and chop it into large (slightly bigger than "bite sized") pieces and return to the pot.

Cook on low for another five hours.

Taste.  Add garlic salt and sugar as needed.  *I also added 1/2 c. Greek yogurt and 2 tbsp. flour in the last hour and then served the stew over pasta like a stroganoff because that sounded good today.

*Tip: 1-3 tsp. of sugar is the secret ingredient in many recipes. It helps to balance the flavors in soups, chili, curries, and other dishes.  Try it! Just start by adding a little bit -- you don't want a savory dish to suddenly be sweet.

P.S. Thanks to the lovely and talented Shiree and her family for the elk!  It's been a treat!  And The Teenager thanks you for saving him from a meatless existence this week. :-)

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