Herb-Marinated Elk With Grilled Pear Rosemary Vinaigrette Salad

Robert Bifulco, former executive chef of the University of Texas Club in Austin, keeps this leaner red-meat alternative to beef even lighter by grilling the marinated meat and serving it over mixed greens dressed with fruity vinaigrette.

boneless elk steaks (sirloin or tenderloin), 4 ounces each
2 tablespoons fresh rosemary, minced
2 teaspoons fresh garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon fresh ground pepper
1 cup canola oil
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
4 cups mixed salad greens, chilled
Grilled Pear Rosemary Vinaigrette (recipe follows)

Place elk meat in a nonreactive pan. Puree the rosemary, garlic, salt, pepper, oil, and lemon juice in a blender until smooth. Pour over the meat. Marinate for 3 or 4 hours in the refrigerator. Turn meat midway through for best flavor results. Remove the meat from the pan, wiping off excess marinade.

On a medium-high charcoal or electric grill, cook until desired doneness, about 2 or 3 minutes per side. Rest the meat for 15 minutes, keeping it warm. Slice as desired.

To serve, divide the salad mixture between four plates and arrange the sliced elk meat atop each salad. Drizzle with Grilled Pear Rosemary Vinaigrette, garnish with pear slices, and serve immediately.

Yield: 4 servings

GRILLED PEAR ROSEMARY VINAIGRETTE

2 Bartlett pears, peeled and thinly sliced
1 tablespoon each lemon juice and water
salt and pepper
2 teaspoons shallots, minced
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon fresh rosemary, minced
5 tablespoons rice wine vinegar, or apple vinegar
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon white pepper
1 cup canola oil
2 tablespoons fresh parsley, chopped

In a medium bowl, add the pears and sprinkle with the lemon juice and water mixture. Season with salt and pepper and let rest for 10 minutes. Heat a grill pan on medium-high and grill the pears briefly until golden on each side. Cool. Reserve 12 pear slices to garnish the salads. Add the remaining slices to a blender with the shallots, mustard, rosemary, vinegar, kosher salt, and white pepper. Combine until smooth. Chill the mixture for about 30 minutes before use.

With the blender churning, slowly add the oil and blend for 3 minutes. Add parsley, adjust seasoning to taste, and chill until ready to use.

PREPPING ELK “Because of elk’s lean properties, it’s important to marinate it before high-heat grilling.” — Robert Bifulco, former executive chef at the University of Texas Club, Austin

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