Chop Talk

Charcoaled elk steak with spiced honey.

Ask hunters—or hunters’ friends and families—about their favorite cuts of meat, and the word backstrap will invariably be spoken, in reverential tones and amid sighs of gustatory delight. Ask any beef or pork aficionado the same question, and he or she will likely mention something about rib meat: prime rib, ribeye, rib rack, etc. Here’s a recipe that will make every meat-eater happy: elk chops. Chops come from the striploin, or backstrap, and while butchering your own rib racks is not a simple or intuitive process, online videos can help you get through it. For even better results, ask a game processor or butcher to prepare your elk racks for you.

1/2 c. honey
1/4 tsp. sriracha powder
1 elk rack cleaned & Frenched
1/2 c. olive oil
1 bunch thyme
2 sprigs rosemary
salt & pepper

1/2 lb. Brussels sprouts, cut in half
1/2 lb. baby carrots, peeled
1/2 lb. parsnip, peeled & quartered
1/2 lb. cauliflower florets
1/2 lb. red onions, cut in quarters
1/2 lb. asparagus, peeled

Before you begin, stir sriracha powder into honey. The longer it steeps, the more flavorful it becomes.

In a vacuum bag, place the elk rack, half the olive oil, half the thyme, and one sprig of rosemary. Seal the bag and boil for three hours at 136 degrees (a sous vide machine makes this process easy and consistent).

About an hour before the elk rack is finished, start a charcoal fire in your grill.

Meanwhile, place all the vegetables, thyme, rosemary, and olive oil in a bowl and toss to coat. Season with salt & pepper.

Spray a large piece of aluminum foil with non-stick spray and place on the grill. Put vegetables on foil, close the grill, and cook until tender (approximately 30-45 minutes).

When the elk chops are done cooking, open the bag, take the rack out, and pat dry with a paper towel. Season with salt & pepper and place on the grill, creating hash marks on both sides of the chops. Place on a cooling rack and let rest for 20 minutes.

Place the vegetables on a serving platter and set the elk rack on top and present the dish with a delicious drizzling of the honey. To serve individual chops, slice through the meat between each bone.

Joe Romano is the head chef and owner at Urban Kitchen.