Cooking with my step-brother Paul is always a treat. He and I look at cooking the same way at times…”what do you have around? Alright, lets do it.” Of course, he’s a much better, more practiced chef, but the point is the same: once you have the confidence and a working understanding of what you got at hand, you can make anything taste good.
Couple weeks ago we got together for a “quick” dinner and some time with the ‘ol Cold River Vodka. I went to the Whole Foods down the road and wondered for a while running the options over in my head. Grabbed a few yams, some green beans (Cali isn’t too far away!), a head of kale, carrots, and some lovely looking beets. I knew Paul had some elk steaks waiting in his freezer, the rest would just come together.
We got the stuff out on the table, cracked a beer and started going for it. Paul quickly made a stuffing out of apples and some frozen corn he had left over. If you’ve never stuffed and rolled a steak (flank steak works great), then read on!
We decided to bake the beets for a kale-carrot-beet salad. I got to work on the yams, deciding to cube them and roast them as well. The green beans would be salt and peppered, drizzled with olive oil and roasted as well (thanks Mom!). Paul opened up a bottle of apple cider and put that in a pot to reduce for a nice syrup to top the stuffed elk steaks.
For the stuffing, Paul cut up a couple pieces of old bread and toasted them up. Fine dice an apple or two, throw in some corn, a little fine diced celery and onion, salt and pepper to taste. I think I saw him throw in some rosemary, a little olive oil, and some garlic. As with any stuffing, the moisture level is crucial. Since we weren’t “stuffing” this into a bird, but rather rolling it up in an elk steak…we made it a little wetter. You can achieve that with a little oil, some chicken, beef, or veg stock. The apples and corn will also give off some water, be sure to take all that into account.
Don’t laugh. The hammer was washed before and after, it sure did the job! After trimming up the steaks a bit, Paul lightly pounded the elk steaks to thin them out and get more surface area. With fresh, lean meat like that it goes pretty quick. The elk steaks were a gift from a friend around the holidays, the buck was shot the first week of November in northern Colorado. Paul had brought a tenderloin from the same animal to Thanksgiving at the Ben Hame, searing it and finishing it with a blackberry demi. I knew it was going to be good this time around too.
Once you have the steak ready, stuff it! Using cooking twine or skewers you can roll the steak around the stuffing and either bake it, sear it, or roast it. We decided to sear the steak, then bake it. You’ll want to heat up a skillet, THEN add the oil, and sear each side of the meat. Be careful with how hot the pan is, you can easily splash oil up or start a fire with the water or blood from the meat.
Once you have the steaks seared, you will want to bake them for about 20-30 minutes at 350 degrees. This all depends on the size of the steak, the thickness, and how much stuffing you have in. Get out your thermometer and give it an occasional poke, you’re looking for 140 degrees inside the roll.
Take your beets and wrap them in tinfoil. You can bake them like that for about 30 minutes at 350 degrees. You’ll know they are ready when they feel “ripe” and the skin easily slides off with your thumb…careful, they’re hot!
For the yams, I cubed them and seasoned with a variety of warm flavors. Drizzles of molasses, agave nectar, and a bit of maple syrup. A light dusting of cinnamon, a touch of nutmeg, some black pepper and salt. Bake like that for about 25 minutes at 350 degrees. You’ll want to pull them and turn over at some point for equal distribution of goodness.
Sam Wolfe at the Alta Lodge prepares yams this way for pork, beef tenderloin, or even smoked salmon…they are always a hit.
The salad is so key in any meal. I love kale after eating it everyday in Cali the last two years. Beets always scared me as a kid coming out of the can around Thanksgiving, their blood red color spooked me. Now I can’t imagine a world without them. I like to saute them in a little oil and garlic, cool and then put on a salad. We baked them this time around, quickly sauteed the kale in some olive oil (if you cook it too much it looses its crispness and apparently destroys all the nutrients stored up in its stock and dark green leaf). You know beets, carrots, and kale are good for you based simply on how vivid their colors are. The carrots, beets, and kale were all sauteed in this salad, then left to cool and reassembled. Awesome combo of flavors and texture.
Not the best pic, but here is the meal! The beans were roasted with salt and pepper, a drizzle of olive oil for 10-15 minutes at most (again, 350 degrees).
Pile the yams up in the middle, lay the beans across one side, sliced and stuffed elk steak on the other side, drizzle the reduced cider across the whole meal. Yummy town.
Hope this meal inspires some new ideas. Roll up that piece of steak with some “stuffing”, grab the yams next time instead of potatoes, grab a head of kale and savor its leafy greenness. Another idea for rolled up steaks is to take a cheap, tender flank steak and make a stuffing of roasted portabellos, fresh basil, chevre, Parmesan, bread crumbs, and roasted tomatoes.
Winter is a great season for warm flavors, give a couple of these ideas a shot next time if the spirit moves ya!
Here’s some more Elk and rolled steak ideas:
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