Simple Gourmet: Knife-Ground Meat Meals

Killing a large animal is only the beginning of the work! Once it’s in the kitchen there’s a lot left to do.

If your season is going like mine, then you’re up to your elbows in meat processing. I was fortunate to kill a mule deer doe late in the archery season and I just killed my first elk, a cow, last week. In less than three weeks my freezer is overflowing.

And holy moly, that elk is a lot of meat — and she was small! It’s easily four times more meat than the doe.

That’s why I’ve got this quick meal idea for you instead of the tasty pumpkin plan I’ve been working on for a while — we’ll try that one next month.

But first, my elk hunt in brief…

We went to a spot where my buddy, Tate, had shot an elk the night before, right near the top of a mountain and right on a popular 4×4 trail. He came over the rise, and there she was standing on the trail.

Fortunately, that trail is closed to motorized traffic during hunting seasons, so the elk are more likely to travel through. We rode horses to the same spot the next day and while my Tate packed his meat out on the horses, Dave and I hunted for our own cows.

We cut the track from the herd, which is like saying we found a freeway on the mountain. We followed the tracks into dark timber by midday and found all kinds of fresh beds with loads of fresh scat. I’m sure that as we bumbled around in the woods we were bumping the herd ahead of us. Finally, we pulled out and went back to the horses and rode down around to the saddle the herd seemed to be working towards in the timber.

We met back up with Tate, tied the horses, and walked up the ridge in the woods and almost immediately found ourselves amongst the herd. Cows were calling all around us and we were scurrying to the saddle to try to catch them in the open.

The east side of the saddle between peaks was dense fir forest, but as we broke over the edge onto the west side, the vegetation opened up into sage with scattered pines. Tate spotted one immediately, ranged it, and told me to take the broadside shot at 104 yards. She was looking right at us, so it was a matter of seconds before she’d be off and taking the herd with her.

I lined the reticle up right behind her shoulder, breathed out, and pressed on the trigger. The 7mm RemMag flew true and whacked her right where I aimed. Although the shot was suppressed, the cow’s stumbling set the herd to moving and Dave couldn’t get a shot of his own. My cow followed the herd downhill for 200 yards before piling up on the steep hillside.

Now, with her meat hanging on the back porch and filling the kitchen table as I process it into roasts and trim, I’m feeling pretty hungry…

Knife-Ground Meat

When you’re cutting up your kill into large-muscle roasts, there’s always a bit of meat left stuck on sheets of silver skin. And on an elk, those sheets of silver skin can be very large — the silverskin on the backstraps is about 6 inches wide. As you cut, you end up with a bunch of shredded meat on your blade.

Take this shredded meat and pile it on the corner of your cutting board. Then take the sliver skin and scrape off the last of the meat stuck to it. Add some tiny pieces of trim to this and pretty soon you’ve got a half pound of meat that came from the backstraps.

You’ve got a pile for the grinder, but grinding meat is a big process and you’re not ready for that yet. Instead, use your knife to mince this little pile of meat.

Use a knife to mince some of your smallest trim and you’ve got a meal ready to cook, like these shells and cheese with backstrap.

Add some spices or just salt and pepper, a tiny bit of cooking oil, and you’ve got a bunch of high-quality meat great for adding to macaroni and cheese or making a burger patty or two. The kids will love a little ground meat added to the mac and cheese, and it’s a simple meal that doesn’t require cleaning up the whole kitchen to prepare.

So, take a break from your processing and enjoy some knife-ground meat with a simple meal. It’s a great way to use the little meat that’s even too small to save for grinding.

Try it like this:

  • Hamburger: take care to not over cook it
  • Mac and Cheese: fry the ground in a pan on high heat
  • Ramen noodles: fry on high heat and add to noodles
  • Steak and Cheese Sandwich: fry with onions and add cheese on a hoagie bun
  • Tacos: try this seasoning recipe
  • Spaghetti: fry and add to favorite spaghetti sauce

About the author: Levi Sim is an avid hunter, and an increasingly avid shooter. He strives to make delicious and simple recipes from the game he kills. He makes a living as a professional photographer, writer, and photography instructor. Check out his work and he’d love to connect on Instagram: @outdoorslevi

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