Friday, September 6, 2013

A Thin Slice of Heaven

I look outside my window and it is hard to tell where the sky ends and the earth begins.  I could be talking about a postcard perfect view of a tropical sunset; the brilliant hues of sky the seeming to melt into the ocean, a palm tree breaking up the symmetry.

But no, it is just sort of grey out.

The post Christmas “Blahs” have me itching to see some green, feel some sunshine and sample the light fare that summer promises. When the weather is cold and the Holiday cooking frenzy is so fresh in my mind, I kind of want to alter my definition of eating local to include my local Arby’s. That counts... right?

The past month the food has been heavy, alcoholic or chocolate coated/filled. It feels like forever since I have had a good tomato. But this last weekend was just the thing I needed to combat the winter foodie blues.

Fresh produce.

From local farms.

I went to the farmers market and the folks from Belluz had fresh greens, and tomatoes!  Yep, I snapped those right up along with some squash, potatoes and garlic. The gears were beginning to turn, and I started to plan the fantastic meal my family and I were going to enjoy that evening.

But to make this plan come together there was one more thing needed. Elk. Elk tenderloin to be exact.

A few weeks ago I put in an order for 2 elk tenderloins,  from the Rainy River Elk Company, and they came in on Christmas Eve. I have been waiting for the right time to take them out of the freezer, and by golly, I found the perfect time.

For those of you who have been with me from the beginning, you may recall that my first ever column last summer was about elk burgers. Elk is a year round food, and is interchangeable with most other meats.  But get this, according to the USDA Agricultural Handbook, Elk is lower in fat, and higher in protein that chicken beef AND pork .

Elk is so lean that you really have to be careful not to overcook it.

For my kids I pan seared some medallions, threw in a spoonful of H and P’sBlackberry jam, and topped with a few frozen berries we picked at Belluz last summer.

The grownups are a little more adventurous and wanted to enjoy this exceptionally tender meat at its finest. So, I made Carpaccio.
Carpaccio is thinly sliced meat that is uncooked or lightly seared, depending on ones tastes.

The first time I had it, I was kinda grossed out.

Not because it was bad, but because it takes time to get used to eating meat raw, but lots of folks also used to think that sushi was weird, and now that is now has a huge following in the city.

I was really apprehensive to make this at home when I first did it. It seemed like something best to just get when you go out, leave it to the professionals.

But, if your meat is stored properly, and you take care to keep your work surfaces clean then it is something you might like.

Elk Carpaccio
1 elk tenderloin
½ cup of salt
¼ cup of Brown Sugar
Olive oil
Baby mixed greens or arugula
Parmesan Cheese

The first think that I like to do, the morning before it is served, is to make a salt crust.
Remove all the silver skin from the tenderloin, and place in a shallow dish with the salt and sugar. Rub the mixture into the meat. Cover with saran wrap and then put it in the fridge or if the weather is right, out in the garage.
Fast forward 8 hours.

Heat a pan on the stove with a bit of olive oil.
Rinse the salt and sugar off of the loin, and pat dry.
Quickly sear the tenderloin, turning so that all sides are browned. Remove from pan and set aside to rest a few minutes.
Slice the meat very thinly, and arrange in a circle on the plate. Place some of the mixed greens in the center.  Top with freshly grated parmesan and about a tablespoon of capers. You can also add a drizzle of olive oil and some cracked pepper if desired.
I enjoyed this with a Stags Leap 2006 Cabernet (a total splurge!) the meal was light, and certainly unforgettable.

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