What Does Elk Taste Like?

What Does Elk Taste Like?

In the larger conversation around lean meat options, elk meat definitely deserves to be featured. Venison is a popular lean-meat choice because it is high in protein and low in fat and cholesterol. Elk (the Shawnee word is wapiti ), deer, and moose are all members of the taxonomic Cervidae family (deer family), but elk are the mid-size members of the group. They are, definitively, not deer. In fact, elk meat is even leaner than deer meat, so you might be interested in this particular game meat. There are plenty of advantages to eating elk meat—especially when you want to avoid the high cholesterol and fat levels found in red meat. 


You can cook elk steak just like you would a regular beef steak. It's a dark red meat that doesn't need a marinade, like you might want to put on your regular T-Bone. Elk has a little more flavor than beef, but that doesn't mean you can't marinate it. So, what does elk taste like? Quick answer: You might find that it tastes similarly to beef.


Eighteen to 20 elk were first gifted to New Zealand from President Roosevelt in the early 1900s, and the 1980s, several hundred elk were imported to New Zealand, which began the venison industry in the country. There, farmers raise grass-fed elk that is a delicacy all its own. But you don't have to travel to New Zealand to get some quality elk meat. 


Here's what you need to know about elk, how to prepare it, what it tastes like, and why you might be favoring it over cow meat from now on. 


Does Elk Taste Gamey?

Elk's main selling point is that it isn't gamey. Most people find that the meat has very little—if not no—gamey taste or gamey flavor. You can buy wild game meat, including elk, at several places: Cabela's, Gourmet Foods Store, and Wild Fork all have tenderloin available for purchasing. The quality and flavor of the elk is definitely benefitted by how the elk was raised. Grass-fed,free-range elk will ensure a tender cut, delicious taste, and plenty of lean-meat protein-packed nutrition.



Why is Elk Meat So Dark?

A wild elk will have darker meat than a farm-raised elk. Dark meat is made of slow-twitch muscle fibers. Slow-twitch muscles are used for extended periods of exercise and movement which means the more an elk is on the move, that animal will build more of the protein myoglobin in its muscle. The myoglobin is what makes the meat look so dark. Obviously, a wild elk isn't stagnant, so the meat of that wild elk will be particularly dark. 


What Is the Nutritional Value of Elk?

Again, elk is a good option if you're looking for a non-beef red meat that still has plenty of health benefits. Seriously, elk will make your doctor happy. Per the USDA, game elk has 1.9 grams of total fat content and 30 grams of protein. Pork fat, for example, is about 12 grams worth of the nutritional value of park. 


You can also eat this healthier red meat much like you would beef: Mouthwatering elk burgers are a great idea for grilling night. Or elk tacos, with ground meat, is a good beef-taco alternative. Elk filet mignon recipes are easy to find, and the taste of elk alone might have you coming back for more. You can easily prepare the lean-elk filets in a skillet of healthy olive oil, which will keep the ensure that the meat is cooked in healthy fats and will also help bring out the flavor profile. Cooking elk, however, can be tricky; the biggest fear is overcooking it. If you cook elk too long, the meat could dry out. Elk meat should have an internal temperature of  130-160 degrees Fahrenheit, depending on how you want it cooked (ranging from medium rare to well done).


What is the Best Cut of Elk Meat?

Like any kind of meat, there are some cuts that are more favorable to cook with than others. The loin, also known as the back-strap, is a favorable cut of meat that runs the backbone of the elk. This is a particularly tender cut, which means it's best to cook it on high heat and make sure the cooking time is quick. Remember, we always want to avoid overcooking and drying out the meat. 


Per the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation (RMEF), there are a few other cuts of the elk that can be just as tender and appealing. The hindquarter is another favorable cut of the elk that should be prepared similarly to the back-strap. This is another versatile part of the elk that can be used for fajitas because it can be easily sliced. If you're trying to make a lean chili or roast, use the meat from the back-strap or hindquarters to achieve the texture you want for those dishes. 


To that same end, neck meat is difficult to cut off the elk, but it is a good meat for stews or pot roast. 


The good thing about elk is that it's not an easy animal to waste. If you're trying to be an environmentally conscious consumer (as we all should!), and use as many parts of the elk as possible, you're in luck. You can get creative, feed yourself and your family and friends while feeling as if you did so in an ethical manner. 


Where is the best place in the U.S. to hunt elk?

Speaking of being environmentally conscious, there are some states where the elk population is higher than in others. Colorado, for example, is known as the best place to hunt elk in the U.S., because it has the largest elk herd that, as of 2018, was between 233,000-282,000 (post-hunt numbers). Oregon is another state with a high elk population, and Utah is known for elk trophy-hunting. 


Every state has different laws and regulations when it comes to hunting elk, but thankfully, there's a big community out there that's willing to help you get started.


If you want to participate in elk hunting, do your research. Otherwise, you can leave it to someone else and simply order elk sticks from us. Enjoy!



About Us

Here at Red Truck Beef Jerky, we take great pride in providing high-quality jerky. Our beef jerky company can help satisfy your cravings by giving you Made in America jerky to consume. We offer a wide-range of delicious jerky and have some of the best meat sticks to satisfy any craving. Here are some of our offerings below!


Beef Jerky Bites

Maple Beef Jerky

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Venison Meat Sticks