Do you know how to prepare aging elk meat? Fun Fact: An elk differs from deer in its high-pitched bugle sound made in the morning or evening. If you want to prepare exotic red meat then elk is definitely a good option. It’s an important process so the meat fibers break down, which results in a tender texture and more flavor. This process is often done with beef although it can also be done with other red meat like elk. Many people who have tried aged elk meat argue that it’s a critical step to take to improve the taste and texture of the meat. In most cases, people have to get aged meat from sources of high-end butchers. The main drawback of this option is the high price tag.
Dry-aging meat properly is a lot more complex than it might seem at first. There are various factors to take up. They include issues like aging duration and temperature. Then there are issues related to cutting steaks including whether they’re frozen or not. There are all important issues to take up when aging big game meat. Taking a wrong step here or there could cause issues related to the overall quality of elk meat.
What Is Aging Meat All About?
You might have heard of the term “dry-aging” but weren’t sure what it’s all about. This process is often used for red meat and beef in particular. In fact, some people argue that beef must be aged before it’s eaten.
There are actually different ways to do dry-aging. However, the main feature is it involves allowing the meat to hang in a climate-controlled cooler. That might sound like a simple process. However, it’s a little more complex than just hanging up meat to dry.
Besides dry-aging, there’s also wet aging. This involves vacuum-sealing meat inside a plastic bag. Then it’s kept in the bag inside a fridge/cooler for the aging process to happen.
One of the ironies of dry-aging is less than half a century ago it was the main way of processing beef besides curing/canning. It turns out the main difference is that plastic bags started replacing dry-aging. There were a few key reasons. One is that it reduces water weight loss and speeds up the aging process.
However, as with many food processing that’s been sped up during the past decades, many people argue that wet-aging’s innovation means that there are some drawbacks of using a faster process.
It’s important to talk about the general aging process itself. This involves enzymes/microbes within the meat break down tissue. Whether it’s done by putting the meat in the air or a bag the goal is to make it tenderer. The approaches are different but the goal is the same.
Dry aging gives the meat a chance to breathe, break down tissue via other microbes, and lose water. These benefits might make it seem dry-aging is a better process. However, it’s also more expensive and time-consuming.
In the case of wet aging the meat ages via its own blood—thus, the “wet” aging. 90% of US beef sold in supermarkets is wet-aged.
7 Rules for Aging Elk Meat
- Test steak after 48 hours: If you cook up the meat and it’s not tender enough then it’s time to start aging it. Make sure to wait 48 hours before you take this step to get the best results.
- Don’t freeze the carcass immediately: It’s important to let the aging process happen naturally. If you don’t freeze the elk carcass immediately it will naturally be tough. In fact, in this stage, no amount of cooking will tenderize the meat.
- Pick wet-aging for convenience: If you have limited time/effort then you should consider wet-aging. You won’t get the same intense flavor. However, the process is much easier since it involves meat aging in its own juices.
- Pick dry-roasting for flavor: If you want a more complex flavor then dry-aging is generally recommended over wet-aging. Make sure to consider if you want an intense beef flavor from your elk meat. If so then dry-aging is the best choice for you.
- Use a refrigerator thermometer: This is an important step to take. It’s also critical for the refrigerator to be set under 40°F to get the best results. This will produce the best results. The reason is that the meat will be refrigerated at an exact temperature.
- Don’t trim the meat before dry-aging: This is an important step because it will help to keep the meat juicy. Meanwhile, if you trim the fat it could cause the meat to dry out. That’s something you’ll want to avoid. So it’s best to avoid trimming the meat before aging it.
- Put the meat in the freezer for 8 hours: This is after you let the meat age naturally for 48 hours. The meat will become firm after it’s frozen for 8 hours. The next step is to start cutting steaks.
Top Benefits of Elk Meat
If you’re looking for high-protein meat then elk is definitely one of the best options. This can provide several health benefits. That’s because protein and amino acids are related to various body functions. The most well-known ones involve building/repairing muscle. However, amino acids can also provide other benefits in terms of the brain’s signal-sending neurotransmitters.
This is another of the main benefits of elk. For example, you can get nutrients like Vitamin B6/B12, iron, and others. It’s important to know the different nutrients you can get from elk. This makes it a good option if you’re looking for an alternative to regular red meat options like beef and pork.
It’s interesting that elk meat is one of the best options among red meat in terms of cholesterol. When considering a food’s cholesterol you should generally weigh issues like the total and “bad” cholesterol. Health experts stress the importance of having a high ratio of good/bad cholesterol in your diet. If you want to consume red meat then elk is definitely one of the best options for this reason.
Flavor and texture
These are some of the reasons you should consider dry/wet-aging beef. In fact, some people only consume aged meat due to the flavor/texture it can provide. This can provide a better experience consuming elk meat. For example, if you don’t age the elk meat then it’s more likely to have features like being tough.
Not only is elk meat lean but it’s one of the leanest meats you can pick. The reason is less than 25% of the elk’s energy originates from fat. This differs from other kinds of food like beef. It makes elk a good option if you’re