For me, creating wild game dishes for friends and family is fundamental to why I hunt. I live for those opportunities to share a meal, engage in conversations (phone free), and connect with people through food and shared human experience. Often times it’s connecting with folks who may not hunt but, can’t help but see the value after participating in a culinary experience that can only be created through hunting. Ultimately it’s about great food, great people and cultivating that relationship with the animals and landscapes that provide us these opportunities.
As hunters who value our relationship to the resources that sustain us and also want to help change the narrative around hunting and it’s place in the modern world, sharing our experiences with others – especially those in our lives that don’t hunt – through the vehicle of food, can be quite an effective means of conveying that message.
This particular recipe and dinning experience was one that didn’t have any notable amount of glamour. Just simple ingredients, some blood sweat and tears (it was 93 degrees that day and braising in the oven for 4 1/2 hours in a house without a/c proved to be a battle in and of itself), time, a homemade table in the backyard, friends, and Tecates with lime.
Red Chile Braised Elk Tacos
- 1 elk roast (any whole muscle cut from any wild game species)
- Oil for browning
- Water or broth to cover
- 3-4 Tomatoes (romas work great)
- 1 Anaheim pepper
- 1 Red onion
- Garlic (whole cloves)
- 3 Tomatillos
- Cotija cheese
- 1 Lemon
- 2-3 Limes
- Salt and Pepper to taste
- Montana Mex Red Chile Seasoning
Place red onion, anaheim pepper, tomatoes, tomatillos, and garlic cloves in a cast iron and char evenly. Once you reach desired amount of char, remove from heat and set aside. You’ll cut these up to desired size and add them later in the cooking process.
I let the red onion go a little longer so that the outside half of the onion is good and cooked through, then I remove from heat to let cool. Once cooled, slice into rings and mix with lemon, lime, salt, pepper and cilantro for quick pickled red onion. It’s delicious. I should also say that I took this straight from Eduardo Garcia in an episode of Meat Eater. It’s just such a great way to add a whole new level of flavor to Latin inspired dishes. It can be eaten right away or let to rest in the fridge overnight.
Next, season your roast with salt, pepper, and Montana Mex Red Chile Seasoning. Be sure to completely cover the whole cut. Brown roast evenly in a cast iron or skillet (you want to create a good crust texture here). Once brown, remove from heat and add water or broth so that the roast is almost completely covered. For dutch ovens or cast irons, cover pan the dish and place in the oven at 250 – 325 for 4-6 hours or until you reach desired tenderness. I went ahead and added the charred veggies about halfway through the cooking process.
Once the meat is fork tender, pull the meat to desired texture and size for your tacos. I usually do this by removing the meat from the braising liquid to keep things less messy. I then add the pulled meat back to the dutch oven or pan containing braising liquid. Let sit for bit so that the meat can soak up as much liquid as possible. Depending on how much liquid the meat absorbs, you may have to remove some liquid to reach the desired consistency.
Build your tacos! Warm up some tortillas, add your meat, pickled onions, cilantro, and cojita cheese, zest it up with some lime (and cold beverage of your choice). Enjoy!
The leftovers also work great with some over-easy fried eggs the next morning.
Landon Blanchard is the Outreach Coordinator for Wyoming Wildlife.