bull-elkOur pal over at the LA Times, Jerry Hirsch has a great gastronomic delight to share – I thought it was pretty Jewlicious.

Game night in the Hirsch household involves a dinner with some sort of exotic meat – at least what we consider exotic – and a wine to match. This is a periodic event when we can get our kids in town and is really a catchphrase for anything beyond beef, lamb and chicken. Earlier meals were bison and duck. We are still looking for what I call the kosher Holy Grail — a kosher goose. Stew

So, when my wife, Jennifer, spotted certified kosher elk at the Doheny Kosher Meat Market on Pico Boulevard the other day, she couldn’t resist.

The challenge, of course, was how do you cook elk and what wine do you serve with it?….

Elk, it turns out, is not the easiest to cook with. The butcher suggested we start with a stew, because “elk makes bison look fatty.” It’s also not in our modest collection of kosher cookbooks. We asked Mr. Google and used a variation of a recipe found at www.elk4u.com.

Essentially, it was two pounds of elk stew meat with two cups of baby Portabello mushrooms, half a bell pepper, four carrots, three sticks of celery, a couple of cloves of garlic, two potatoes and a quart of beef broth. (For our purposes, the kosher Tabatchnick sold at Ralphs.)

We braised the meat in olive oil in a Dutch oven on the cooktop. We removed the meat and then used the Dutch oven to kind of pan saute everything else before mixing it all together with the broth and cooking for three hours.

The results? Interesting … in a good way. Elk has a musky flavor, not unlike venison and with just a hint of the grass you get in bison. Think of it as a gamy brisket. And it is very lean. The meat had a touch of the palate-drying sensation you get from a tannic red wine.

Would we do it again? Maybe, but we would probably go for something besides stew – maybe thin cut slices in a thick burgundy sauce to help provide moisture.

And the wine? We went with a Syrah, but I’d be curious what you would have with game such as elk or venison. We considered a Rioja and a Zinfandel but decided on a 2004 Herzog “Special Reserve” Syrah from Edna Valley. It was perfect with lots of blueberry, a hint of pepper and very smooth, almost no tannins.
— Jerry Hirsch


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Rabbi Yonah


  • Duck as an exotic meat?

    I knew American Jewish housewives of the Ashkenazi variety do not exactly have the best reputation as cooks, but c’mon, ducks were already eaten in the shtetl as highlighted in the joke about the poor shtetl rabbi who always invites an even poorer bochur for dinner. However, the poor bochur is not only a great student but also a great fresser, so before the rabbi and the rebbetzin have finished their first serving, the bochur has already finished off everything edible. One day the rebbetzin buys a nice katchke, a duck, for their dinner. However, the rebbetzin wishes to remain a generous hostess but since she doesn’t want most of the duck to go to the bochur and she and her husband only to get so little of it, she asks her husband for advice. He tells her, “Shall you cook a large pot of noodles and serve those first. Then the bochur can fill up on the noodles, and when he puts his fork down and says he’s done, you go and get the duck.” That’s what they do. The bochur fresses away on the noodles, four servings, five servings, six servings. Then he finally puts his fork down and thanks his hosts for the meal. The rebbe replies, “Oh, we weren’t done yet,” and in comes the rebbetzin with the duck. The rebbe urges the bochur to help himself, and sure enough, in no time, the duck is gone.
    Incredulous, the rebbe asks, “Listen, have you not just eaten six servings of noodles? Have you not been stuffed yet?” The bochur replies, “Rebbe, with that katchke it is just as it is in shul on a High Holiday. Everything is packed and you couldn’t put in one more person. But come the holy rebbe, and the masses will split and make way for him so he can walk through them.”

    Alright, the joke’s not too funny, but duck meat is none too exotic at all. I’ve had kangaroo and didn’t think of it as exotic.

    And if the meat’s too dry, add onions to the gravy for more juice.

  • Our pal over at the LA Times, Jerry Hirsch..

    For those who don’t know, “Hirsch” is German and Yiddish for “deer”. 🙂

    I’ve tasted kosher venison once, at Levana’s, during a stay in NY several years ago. It was like a cross between goose and steak. I suppose that’s what they mean by a “gamey” flavor.

    Duck, goose, steak…………

    Now I made myself hungry, and it’s onlu 9:30AM in Jerusalem.

    I’ve had kangaroo

    Do you just fill the pouch with stuffing and presto?

  • Actually the best cut is a the sirloin of Elk. It IS a kosher cut unlike in a cow where the sciatic nerve is an issue. It cooks like a fine steak (Peter Luger for the non-kosher set, Prime Grill for the kosher) but it is tender like a filet mignon (if you’ve ever had treif, you’ll know).