Elk with Bacon & Blue Cheese Sauce

Makes 4 to 6 servings

This is a family favorite. The recipe will work with either deer or elk. I usually make mashed potatoes with it, and I always double the sauce because we end up wanting to put it on the potatoes too. [Sauce is doubled already in the recipe.] I also usually make steamed green beans with toasted almonds and butter.

Talking venison and elk with Melanie Crenshaw:

Who are the hunters in your family?

Jason and Kellen and Camille. I am not. Kellen has been doing mentor youth, so this year he finally was able to have his own tag, and he got an elk in August. Then Jason had one of those damage tags, but he wasn’t able to fill it. We just were so busy that it didn’t happen this year.

Where did you get this recipe?

From Jason’s sister, and I can’t remember where she got it, but we’ve shared elk meat for years. She’s kind of a foodie too, so shared it with me. It’s delicious. And you know, my son [Kellen] doesn’t like blue cheese, but he loves this recipe, which is kind of amazing.

2-pound whole elk tenderloin

Salt and pepper

4-6 slices thick-cut bacon or pepper bacon

2 tablespoons butter

½ cup chicken stock

1 cup half and half

6 ounces crumbled blue cheese

Pat the roast dry and season with salt and pepper. Wrap the bacon completely around the tenderloin and secure with toothpicks. Melt the butter in a large skillet over medium heat and sear the meat on all sides until the bacon is nicely browned. Discard some of the excess fat, add the chicken stock and cover the pan. Simmer over low heat until the tenderloin is rare to medium rare, about 125 degrees. Transfer the meat to a warm platter and cover with foil.

Place the skillet on the burner over medium-low heat and scrape up the browned bits on the bottom. Add the half and half and simmer until it is reduced and coats the back of a spoon. Stir in the cheese until it melts to make a smooth sauce. Season with pepper to taste and pour over the meat before serving.

Do you always make it with tenderloin?

I do, just because you want it really tender. It’s taken me awhile to figure out the temperature. You’ve got to get the bacon cooked crispy on the outside, but you don’t want to overcook the meat. So, you just have to gauge how thick the tenderloin is because you know with elk it’s different every time. Some tenderloin roasts are quite large and thick, and then sometimes, depending on where it is on the animal, you could have a smaller roast. I think we’ve just got to jump in and do it and then you start to feel more comfortable with what you’re doing with meat.

Do you serve it for the holidays?

It’s always on a weekend when it’s just a nice evening that we don’t have volleyball or basketball, late fall and winter. We’ve never fixed it on the holidays. I think it’s just the satisfaction that my family has because they were the ones that hunted. It’s their animal, and I think it’s just that enjoyment because it’s a lot of work to go hunting. And so, to have that final finished product that you can just sit and enjoy is very satisfying.

Editor’s note: Do you have a special recipe for a dish made with locally produced foods? Slow Food Wallowas encourages you to contact them. Please call Lynne Curry, chair Slow Food Wallowas 541-263-0347 for more information. Your recipe may appear in a future column!

—Melanie Crenshaw

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