This animal makes our little ‘deer success’ minute in comparison. We gave the deer to someone else that was short of meat at Christmas time and then prayed we would still find an Elk. I’m sooo pleased that it happened for us.
The big old hind quarter was much larger than my table was prepared for, but it’s still in one piece. That old table is from tough stock. I should tell its history sometime soon.
After the washing and peeling of fat and dry skin which rid the meat of nasty things like stubborn hair and gooey clots, the first big cut began. It starts at an angle close to that of the hip bone. The hip side would normally be roasts but my plan is to ‘bone-out’ the meat so it will fit better in the tiny freezer space I have available. The leg side of the cut will be sliced in 1 inch/2 cm slabs and called ‘Round Steak’…a rather tough version of steak. The end of the leg toward the hoof is always tough and full of stringy tendons and sinew. It’s very hard to get through a grinder and so the debate is whether to make it into hamburger or stew meat. In some cases the stew meat from this would be best tenderized with a slow cooker later on.
Most of the rib cage and flank that will be left can be trimmed for chunks to be ground into hamburger except for the long slab that lays along the backbone. This is a more choice cut (Rib-eye). Some folks cut the ribs into short-ribs. I’ll let the dog at the rib cage and save on dog food and my energy.
On the quarter that has the rib cage and the front leg and neck: the ribs are done the same way as above, the neck is best cut with a meat saw into roaster-size pieces.It’s almost impossible to retrieve anything much by digging away at the mountain range created by the many vertebrae. The leg is the same only smaller, but is attached to a large shoulder-blade that can be hamburger, stew meat, a low-grade of steak or chuck roasts.
If you attempt this performance on your own, just be brave. You can afford to make mistakes because you’ll save a fair buck and it all cooks up one way or another. It’s important to remember to keep the thickness of the steaks as even as possible so the cooking time is the same for the whole area. It works good to catch the steak when it still has ice in it especially on the big back legs. The round steaks can be 18 or 20 inches across (or about 24 cm) and hard to deal with when warm a flabby. It’s even good to leave a layer of fat or tough skin around the leg initially to hold the shape to aid you in the cutting.
The highest quality steak is the tenderloin that lays almost all by itself along the inside of the rib cage on the opposite side to the rib steak (you can tell that the fibres are super-fine compared to all the other meat). The sirloin is close to it within the rib cage, but runs farther down toward the hind hip bone.