Elk Burgers with Jalapeno Jelly

In Carnivores Kitchen by Chef John McGannonLeave a Comment

Americans love our burgers, and those of us who travel near and far to collect our own protein, we know there’s only one real choice when it comes to burgers—elk! The buzz words in today’s markets are all about organic, free range and natural. Well, we elk hunters have known about that for many years. The nutritional advantages of wild game are substantial.

Many folks have a tough time dealing correctly with their ground wild game meat. They feel the need to add everything from bread crumbs, eggs, beef or pork and fat. I have a simple solution that will allow your natural, lean and healthy elk burgers to remain just that.

The problem with freshly ground wild game meat is it’s usually processed when it’s very fresh. It typically does not get a chance to properly dry age. Fresh wild game is saturated with large amounts of capillary blood and dry aging allows this excessive amount of blood to drain. Unlike whole cuts of muscles, ground meat doesn’t need a lengthy aging process because actually grinding the meat breaks down the highly developed fiber structure. All that’s left to deal with is the large quantity of capillary blood. Here’s how to deal with it.

Remove your frozen ground elk packs from the freezer and allow it to defrost in the refrigerator—the slower the defrosting process the better. It should take a couple of days to totally thaw. Once the meat is thawed, remove it from the package and place it in a large colander. Cover the meat with clear wrap and place the colander in a large bowl or on a sheet pan. Place this in the refrigerator overnight. The amount of blood that drains to the bottom container will surprise you. It is this blood that gives wild game meat its gamey flavor. It is also responsible for soggy burgers that won’t hold together on the grill. Ground meat handled this way will cook a little faster than what you may be used to, so be prepared. They’ll also need to be cooked over very high heat to lock in the natural moisture of the meat.

Use this technique to remove the blood from all your ground meats to benefit your meatloaves, chili, meatballs plus sausages and salami. And it can be accomplished overnight!

Roasted Jalapeno Jelly Spread
12 jalapeno chilies
4 cups water
4 cups sugar
1 tbsp minced garlic
1 tsp toasted cumin seeds ground fine
juice and zest of 6 limes, appr. 1/2 cup
1 1/2 tbsp kosher or sea salt
2 tbsp corn starch
1 oz. vodka

Preparation
Char the chilies over an open flame until blistered. Place them in a paper bag for about 10 minutes, then peel the blistered skins. Cut them in half and remove the seeds. Cut into very small cubes. Place the water and sugar in a stainless steel pot and bring to a boil. Add the garlic, cumin, chilies and lime juice. Simmer for about fifteen minutes. In a cup mix the cornstarch and vodka until smooth. Stir this into the chili syrup. Bring to a boil. Remove from the heat and add the lime zest and adjust the seasonings with salt. If you like spicier jelly, you can leave in some of the chili seeds. This jelly will stay for several weeks in the refrigerator. You can add this to anything that you want to add a little spice with a hint of sweetness.

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