Summit Treestands
Tough Elk Meat
Elk
Contributors to this thread:
Bowfreak 08-Oct-20
Ucsdryder 08-Oct-20
elknailer 08-Oct-20
Bowfreak 08-Oct-20
Stoneman 08-Oct-20
Dale06 08-Oct-20
swede 08-Oct-20
greg simon 08-Oct-20
TrapperKayak 08-Oct-20
Ucsdryder 08-Oct-20
Cornpone 08-Oct-20
Stoneman 08-Oct-20
SlipShot 08-Oct-20
RT 08-Oct-20
JSW 08-Oct-20
soccern23ny 08-Oct-20
Bowfreak 08-Oct-20
Shuteye 08-Oct-20
Hoot 08-Oct-20
midwest 09-Oct-20
standswittaknife 09-Oct-20
DP 09-Oct-20
JSW 09-Oct-20
elkster 09-Oct-20
walking buffalo 09-Oct-20
Bowfreak 09-Oct-20
WV Mountaineer 09-Oct-20
soccern23ny 09-Oct-20
Jaquomo 09-Oct-20
jordanathome 09-Oct-20
Norseman 09-Oct-20
swede 09-Oct-20
cnelk 09-Oct-20
Bowfreak 10-Oct-20
Ermine 10-Oct-20
Stoneman 11-Oct-20
Lost Arra 11-Oct-20
CPAhunter 11-Oct-20
jdbbowhunter 11-Oct-20
midwest 11-Oct-20
Bowfreak 11-Oct-20
ki-ke 11-Oct-20
Snag 11-Oct-20
DarrylDunsloppy 11-Oct-20
Monarchcx 11-Oct-20
APauls 11-Oct-20
APauls 11-Oct-20
Snag 12-Oct-20
APauls 12-Oct-20
From: Bowfreak
08-Oct-20
I shot a nice bull this fall in WY and the tenderloins are probably the toughest cut of meat I have ever put in my mouth. The taste is phenomenal but I was surprised or borderline shocked as to how tough it actually was. Tough like to the level that I would consider just grinding it all. Granted, it was a mature bull but I still didn't expect this level of toughness. I have eaten quite a few mature whitetails and I have never had a tough one. I don't know if this is an outlier or more common with elk but I am just curious if any of you have experienced this and what is your method or methods for handling tough meat? My initial reaction is to sous vide any steak and use a Jaccard when possible.

From: Ucsdryder
08-Oct-20
Curious to hear how the sous vide works. I shot a cow 2 years ago like that. Steaks were great, tough as nails. I grinder everything. Jaccard helped but still tough. I’m curious what makes them tough as well. Did he die quickly? Was he on high alert? Did you get him gutted and cooled quickly? Did he hang before butchering? All things I wonder if could lead to tougher meat.

From: elknailer
08-Oct-20
try soaking it in white vinegar for an hr or so, pat it dry and cook. no vinegar taste.

From: Bowfreak
08-Oct-20
He was dead in seconds. I called him in and he was calm at the shot but had been stopped with a cow call. I left him for 3 hours as I was being super cautious waiting on help and knowing it was 20 degrees or less and I had all day. Meat cooled off quickly and was in great shape.

From: Stoneman
08-Oct-20
Bowfreak, pick up a jaccard. Dont grind your steaks. Key to the jaccard is the direction you use it so you properly tenderize, against the grain.

From: Dale06
08-Oct-20
Same experience a few years ago on a large 6 pt bull. The loins were inedible cause they were so tough.

From: swede
08-Oct-20
I shot a large dry lead cow a few years ago. She dropped on the spot where she was shot. There was no gut material hit and she was butchered clean right away. The fat on her was over an inch thick in places. She was in cold storage within about four hours, but she turned out tough to chew on. I have never understood why it turned out that way. This year I got another that was very similar and it is great.

From: greg simon
08-Oct-20
Never had a tough elk but I have experienced this with deer. Just grind it and enjoy it.

From: TrapperKayak
08-Oct-20
leave them on the bone longer. If cut free immediately, they contract änd rigor up that way like a charlie horse and are too tough to chew. Let season a few days all stretched out if you have to debone them right away.

From: Ucsdryder
08-Oct-20
Trapper I don’t think that’s the explanation. At least not on mine. She hung for 4-5 days at the butcher. I think it’s age related. Tough to tell how old a cow is. A 8-10 year old cow is a lot easier to find than an 8-10 year old bull.

From: Cornpone
08-Oct-20
I've gotten several elk and never did anything to tenderize them...took them to a local meat processor who cut/wrapped/froze.

Although not elk but rather deer (don't expect elk would be any different) I'm experimenting this year. I got one already and quartered it, plus loins and tenderloins, and into the freezer. The next one I get I'm going to wet age for three weeks. After thawing the frozen one in the fridge I'll take a backstrap from both of them and grill the same, having some buddies over for the feast. We'll see.

From: Stoneman
08-Oct-20
Your are what you eat. That plus age determines flavor and texture (imo). Providing the dead animal was properly handled in the field and didn't get a ride home on the hood of your truck.

From: SlipShot
08-Oct-20
Aging the meat will help. Google aging in refrigerator.

From: RT
08-Oct-20
Look into an Instant Pot. It makes just about any tough meat edible. Also, aging in the fridge for several days helps.

From: JSW
08-Oct-20
I've never had anything that was really tough, especially the tenderloins. Except for elephant. That was tough meat.

Most wild game is tougher than prime beef because it's older and seldom as well aged. Try marinading it in something like Italian salad dressing and then sprinkle it with Adolph's meat tenderizer at least 30 minutes prior to cooking. If that doesn't work, slow cook it or bake it in gravy of some sort. There are plenty of ways to get it to tender up.

The only time I've had game that was really tough was when I tried to cook it the same day or next day after shot. it always needs to age. The longer the better.

You can use vinegar like recommended or look up tenderizing with baking soda.

From: soccern23ny
08-Oct-20
How quick did you eat them after the kill?

From: Bowfreak
08-Oct-20
2-3 weeks after I killed it.

The meat is just super tough.

From: Shuteye
08-Oct-20
Cut some of the steaks in bite size pieces. Put a large can of concentrated mushroom soup, cut up taters. large cut up onion and the meat in a crock pot. Slow cook six or seven hours and the meat will be very tender. I even do some tender deer that way. I haven't had any tough meat since I discovered the crock pot. I haven't killed anything larger than a deer but i always hang them for several days before cutting them up. Aging helps deer meat a lot. The pros age beef a lot longer than that. I am going to do some crock pot deer in the morning, I love it that way.

From: Hoot
08-Oct-20
Mine is not tough, but I absolutely love 2-4 hours in the sous vide at 120, pull, pat dry, good hot dear, perfect!

I’ve heard some guys will sous vide for even longer, up to 24 hours on super tough meat, and it takes care of it...

From: midwest
09-Oct-20
Cornpone, you should have done half and half of the same deer for a more accurate comparison test. Either way, I'd be happy to come up and be a taste tester! ;-)

09-Oct-20

standswittaknife's Link
Listen to the meat eater podcast “red cutter” is a must for all hunters... I’m Telling you it will change your thoughts on preparing meat for table fare..

From: DP
09-Oct-20
Try real apple cider and leave in the fridge a dew days

From: JSW
09-Oct-20
I just finished the "red cutter" podcast. Thanks for the recommendation. It is definitely worth the time.

From: elkster
09-Oct-20
X2 on the red cutter episode referenced above.

It covers everything we do as hunters faced with decisions the instant game hits the ground. It changed my approach.

09-Oct-20
Bowfreak,

Did you answer the important question of how long was the animal aged before butchering?

As in Ucsdryder's case, 4-5 five days may just not have been long enough to get the meat past rigor and allow for any decomposition (aging). If the butcher gave the the animal 4-5 days, and if cooler was Cold, the meat may have barely released out of rigor, let alone break down. This elk probably should have had 10-14 days before cutting.

For animals butchered too early, age the meat after defrosting and before cooking. It will help.

Of course, some older animals are tough. Lengthy aging will help immensely, and still may not produce a truly tender cut.

From: Bowfreak
09-Oct-20
I listened to that podcast when it first came out.

WB,

The butcher was me and it was processed somewhere between 7-10 days after it was killed. I have a setup to age deer as long as I like but it wasn't feasible to age this much meat unless I left it in coolers for the whole time.

09-Oct-20
When stuff dies, Riga-mortis must set in and relax before you detach the meat if you want It to be tender. No matter the animal species. Most every elk that’s killed is broken down before this process occurs. I’ve not killed a bunch of elk. But, the ones I have or been along when my buddies killed them, were always tougher then white tails I was able to keep whole but dragging them out of the woods.

That’s just my theory. But, now that I pack half the deer I kill out, I notice the difference in boned out on the spot meat and, meat That I bring out by dragging it. The meat that stays on the carcass is simply more tender. So, I bring them out quartered versus bone out now. However, the back straps are still chewy. Tenderloin I’ve never noticed a difference.

From: soccern23ny
09-Oct-20
I ate deer tenderloins this year approximately 48 hours after harvest(quartered in field). Very tender very good. I am assuming my deer was on the younger side.

But getting rigor mortis out only takes about 24 hours at above freezing temps.

(I marinated in red wine for 6 hours before cooking)

From: Jaquomo
09-Oct-20
Jaccard and sous vide.

From: jordanathome
09-Oct-20
Hopeless........I can take that worthless meat off your hands as a favor though.........

From: Norseman
09-Oct-20
Yes. Occasionally you get a tough one. Or a tender one with an odd taste.

I always try to bring meat close to room temperature before coooking. And dry rub for 24 hours.

From: swede
09-Oct-20
The cow I had that was so tough was literally quartered in the field, but deboned and butchered at a professional butcher shop. Toughness has to be more than rigor mortis.

From: cnelk
09-Oct-20
I’d cut those backstraps up into chunks and pressure can them. That’ll make em tender.

And damn good eating

From: Bowfreak
10-Oct-20
I'm not giving up on them yet. I'm letting a pack age in the fridge and then I'll sous vide them.

From: Ermine
10-Oct-20
I’ve killed quite a few mature bulls over the years. And quite a few then turn out to be tough elk steaks. Not like uneatable tough, but not real tensor. With elk I usually only cut the back straps into steaks and grind the rest.

A lot has to do with age I think. In my opinion if you want the best elk steak out there. You kill a spike elk. Spike elk or a calf is the best eating elk

From: Stoneman
11-Oct-20
^^^^ what cnelk said... sure works with moose, but I still jaccard the steaks.

From: Lost Arra
11-Oct-20
Some wild animals are just tougher or more tender than others. Unlike domestic meat, you can't control every aspect of their living but only what happens after you kill it. One year I received a tooth request from G&F for elk aging of harvested animals. The mature cow I had killed was tender and delicious. Everyone who ate it, loved it. I called the G&F to find out she was 11 1/2 years old. Go figure. Disclaimer: I am a better than average meat cook with no sous vide or pressure cooking machines although I would like to can some meat. I will use a Jacard occasionally on round steaks but I'm not sure it is as effective as we hope it is, kind of like camo clothing.

Only about 5% of slaughtered beef is graded Prime and that is after micromanaging their entire life. It's not unreasonable to think a certain percentage of game animals might fall into the Utility grade where a good stew is your friend.

From: CPAhunter
11-Oct-20

CPAhunter's embedded Photo
CPAhunter's embedded Photo
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CPAhunter's embedded Photo
The bull I arrowed two years ago was like leather! Ate the last package of steaks last night and they were super tender. Simply liberally sprinkle both sides with Durkee unseasoned meat tenderizer and let sit about 30 mins or more. I added Weber steak and chop seasoning to one side and California garlic pepper to the other and grilled to a medium rare. They were about as perfect of flavor and tenderness as one could ask.

From: jdbbowhunter
11-Oct-20
Try aging thawed out meat in fridge for a couple days before you cook it. Ive had some success with that.

From: midwest
11-Oct-20
That'll teach you to kill those big, giant bulls!

From: Bowfreak
11-Oct-20
Nick....I honestly never thought I'd ever be in this situation. Never in my mind had I imagined a scenario where I killed a mature bull. My best case daydreaming scenario was killing a raghorn. The great part about elk meat is that even if you have to result to grinding it all....the burger is awesome.

From: ki-ke
11-Oct-20
I know exactly what you are talking about. Rigor has nothing to do with it. I've killed 2 elk that were jaw breakers to eat. Flavor was fine, but toughness made them inedible. One was a 3-4 year old bull, the other was a very mature New Mex bull. I've killed other elk in between those, and all have been excellent in flavor and texture. The bull I killed in Wyoming a couple years ago was 12 and was as tender and tasty as the young cow I killed in Colorado this year.

Best explanation I have is nature is not a controlled environment, unlike a pasture. We have no idea what stressors the animal has experienced, how they wintered, fed, watered, etc. I would think that resident herds that arent migratory may have a nod towards being better table fare. Elk that are feeding on Alfalfa all summer, with a 2 mile daily round trip from feed to bed, with access to great water will eat better than elk that are travelling 15 miles/day and drinking out of a stagnant stock tank in the SW during a drought year.....

Regardless, I'd still rather eat elk than beef.

From: Snag
11-Oct-20
On any tough meat you can lightly sprinkle with baking soda and salt. Put in refrig for an hour.

11-Oct-20

DarrylDunsloppy's Link
Buy this book and cook all of the delicious low and slow stews and other goodies. Like Ermine, I only take steaks in the traditional sense from the backstraps (loin). Everything else is used for stews and braising applications. Or cut into smaller pieces and cooked on skewers for steak style meals.

From: Monarchcx
11-Oct-20
I agree with Ermine. The best meat is a one year old elk.

From: APauls
11-Oct-20
If you still want it to be a nice steak, you can use sous vide. An Instant pot will make it tender and makes some tremendous meals, but if I want a legit steak that’s a no-no

From: APauls
11-Oct-20
If you still want it to be a nice steak, you can use sous vide. An Instant pot will make it tender and makes some tremendous meals, but if I want a legit steak that’s a no-no

From: Snag
12-Oct-20
On any tough meat you can lightly sprinkle with baking soda and salt. Put in refrig for an hour.

From: APauls
12-Oct-20
If you still want it to be a nice steak, you can use sous vide. An Instant pot will make it tender and makes some tremendous meals, but if I want a legit steak that’s a no-no

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