Elk Rump Roast - aka My First Smoke

Discussion in 'Wild Game' started by draekane, Jan 14, 2015.

  1. draekane

    draekane Newbie

    So, wasn't sure where to start, but this looks like as good a place as any. . . . Tonight I got to really try my smoker out for the first time.  I don't think it turned out exactly how I wanted, but not bad all the same.  I would love to hear tips, suggestions, ideas of how I might do it better next time.  But following are the basics and hopefully pics (if I can figure that out) of my smoke.

    Vital Stats:

    Smoker: Smoke Hollow 2-door 38" Propane Gas smoker

    Meat: 3-ish lb wild elk roast (got him this last November near Silver Lake, WA)

    Preparation: Olive oil, dry rub (from New Seasons, not my own, salty and spicy of some sort), and bacon.

    Smoke: Apple & Cherry wood chunks (thought I would try mixing them. First time I've used either)

    Smoker Temp: 275-300

    Target Internal Meat Temp: 165

    Total Cook Time: 2 hours

    The Story:

    We had thawed the elk roast out for a party we were having this last Saturday, but ended up not needing it (which was good, it hadn't thawed yet).  So, we decided to try smoking it.  My wife picked up the rub from New Seasons, and we though we would give it a try.

    When it came time to start prepping the meat, I had turned the smoker on, had water in the water pan, a mixture of chips in the chip pan, and came in to prep the meat.  My wife has a super sensitive nose and decided she wasn't sure about the smell of the meat (we think this might just be because the elk roast, we have been told, tends to be a little more "wild" than the rest of the elk, as well as it was in an elastic netting too).  I was left to oil and rub down my beautiful chunk of elk, and then drape it with four large, thick strips of bacon.  The final product, ready for the smoker looked like:

    It then went into the smoker for a couple of hours.  All I knew was that I wanted the internal temperature to be at least 165 as suggested by the USDA for wild game, especially elk in the Washington area to kill all growies.  But, just for those who want to see it in the works:

    After about 2 hours, the internal temperature reached 160 and I pulled it out, covered it with foil and ended up putting it back in to reach the 165 for my wife's peace of mind.  It reached 167 and I pulled it out and put it in our oven (cool oven, not turned on at all, just keeps it away from our two 70 lbs dogs) to rest and carry over cook.  When we did pull the meat out and start cutting into it, my wife was concerned that it still looked really raw.  The internal temperature had read 167, so it SHOULD have been save, but she was still concerned.

    At first, I was not concerned about it, but with my wife calling everyone she could think of to check and get their opinion on whether the meat was undercooked or not, and since i was going to be feeding it to our 3.5 year old daughter as well, I was a little concerned as well.  So, I ended up decided to finish the roast by cutting it into about 1" thick slabs and searing the slabs off in a hot cast-iron pan.  The end result:

    It was tasty, probably a little chewier than it needed to be, but definitely nice and juicy.  There was a nice red smoke ring evident on the roast, and still about a nice medium rare inside and very tasty (to me at least).  After all the concern about the temperature, my wife realized she disliked the rub.  My daughter, on the other hand, snorted down her portion of elk. . . .  I now have about two and a half pounds of smoked, seared elk that no one else wants to eat. . . . I guess it's still a win in the end!

    So, any suggestions on better ways to smoke an elk?  I have backstrap, sirloin tip steak, and a couple more roasts and would REALLY like some assistance and guidance on how to more properly cook these.  If there is anyone in the southern Washington area who would like a padawan smoker, I could sure use a Jedi to train me in the ways of the smoker force.  Thanks all, and I look forward to constructive comments.  ;-)
  2. First off get yourself a new thermometer. It is not possible to be 167° IT and still be medium rare. Find a rub that you like the flavor of on beef. If you don't like it on beef you won't like it on elk and you are just making people decide that they don't like elk for no reason. You are overcooking it if you go to 165° try 135° next time. Most people over cook wild game. Also a lot of wild game is not properly cared for right after the kill causing a bad smell. They don't get the elk cleaned and cooled down fast enough causing the blood to spoil.

    Happy smoken.

  3. draekane

    draekane Newbie

    Thanks David.  Let me just address a couple of things for clarification:

    The thermometer was brand new, so the internal temperature was correct at 167.  I think what I meant was it LOOKED Medium Rare but I think this has more to do with the darker color of elk compared to beef.  It was a concern of my wife's that it was too rare, but it was really our first time smoking any elk.  We've cooked it other methods but not in the smoker so we weren't quite sure what it was supposed to look like.  Regarding the rub, I entirely agree.  My wife had been talking to the butcher counter at New Seasons Market, and it was just one they suggested.  It wasn't that my wife dislikes elk, she just didn't like that rub.  She has really liked the other elk we have cooked up.  Regarding the temperature, it isn't safe to only cook wild game to 135 in our area because of concerns with parasites or other possible diseases the wild meat may carry, so the recommendation is to cook it to at least 165.  And from tasting it afterwards, that did not overcook it.  Lastly, I know for a fact the wild game was properly cared for right after the kill because I was the one that did it.  We immediately gutted it in the field as night was falling.  It was dark as we finally got both halves of it back to the vehicles.  At that point, we took it to a cold shed, hung it, skinned and cleaned it, and finished by washing it with cold water to get any dirt and excess blood off.  It was around 34 degrees all night.  We then came back the next day and took it immediately to the butchers.  The outside temp that day didn't get over about 40-45.  There was no issue with blood spoilage as me and my hunting partner are both well versed in proper care.

    I don't want it to sound like I don't appreciate the advice, I do.  The only thing I am new to here is the actual smoking bit.  I've been cooking and preparing food for the last three decades, my wife is an incredibly talented chef as well.  Food and meat prep we are quite good at.  This is the first elk we have had to work with as this is only the second year I've gone hunting and the first I got something.  The bigger questions I have regarding smoking are things like length of time and internal/external temperature suggestions.  In this case, I am limited by health concerns of getting the internal temp of the meat to at least 165.  I think that comes down to a personal preference.  If you feel okay cooking yours at a lower temperature, that's your call.  I just don't feel comfortable doing that when I also am feeding it to my young daughter as well.  My mother-in-law is a doctor and my wife was trained as a nurse, so both of them are very touchy about health issues such as that.  When we were looking at cooking the elk, my wife was looking up safe cooking temps, and the 165 is the recommended safe temp for elk.

    Thank you again for your recommendations.  I would love to know some of your cooks/recipes you have used with elk in the past.  I'm finding it really difficult to find good information online on recommendations for wood type to use, prep method, temps and times for cooking all of those things. Anything along those lines would definitely be appreciated.
  4. mdboatbum

    mdboatbum Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    Not going to jump into the fray here regarding temps and preparation/processing of the meat as I'm not very well versed in wild large game. However, since your method requires cooking to a minimum temp of 165, to me that would pretty much take any sort of dry roasting off the table. I think, after getting the results you describe (chewy yet still juicy) this particular cut might benefit from a braise or stew method. What I'd do is cut the meat into stew sized chunks then smoke it low and slow for 2 or 3 hours. Internal temp isn't really important here as it's going to cook some more. Then I'd flour it, brown it in a heavy pot with some oil, pull it out, brown some onions and mushrooms in the oil and then add the meat back in. Then I'd add some carrots, parsnips and a bottle of red wine. And some beef broth and a couple tablespoons of tomato paste. Maybe some barley too. For seasoning I'd add the usual beef stew mix of thyme, Rosemary, salt and pepper, garlic and a glug of Worcestershire sauce. Maybe a dash of cinnamon and allspice for a nice earthy flavor. Lastly I'd add a tablespoon of Dijon mustard and let the whole mess simmer for a couple hours.
    The meat should be very tender and the gaminess will actually enhance the other flavors. That's what I'd do anyway. Good luck!!
    Last edited: Jan 15, 2015
  5. timberjet

    timberjet Master of the Pit

    I wouldn't have listened to the Washington state guidelines at all myself. I have eaten medium rare and rare elk all my life with no problems ever. Wild elk is safer to eat than feedlot beef in my opinion. As long as it was handled correctly. That smell was most likely just wild game smell. It is wild after all. Of course if I had your wife I may have been having dinner with the dogs. Hahaha. By the way even a brand new meat thermometer can be off. Test it in boiling water and then  you will know for sure. 212 degrees.
    Last edited: Jan 15, 2015
  6. I 100% agree!

    Happy smoken.

  7. I've brought home more than a few elk and have never had any gamieness at all from any of them.  Deer, on the other hand, I've had a few that were gamey. 

    And I agree that 165 is way too high of an IT.  At the max for me would be 140.
  8. crazymoon

    crazymoon Master of the Pit SMF Premier Member

    I concur with everyone about the thermometer being checked. Also concur with your IT temp being high,elk, moose deer are all meats that are lacking marbled fat like beef. They will be tough and chewy when cooked to temps of 165. I'm almost 60 and have eaten venison in the medium rare state for most of my life coming from a family of avid hunters.Wild game is safer than store processed meat where bacteria runs  amok! I think SPOG would have been sufficient for your roast. A recipe for you backstrap( if it is still whole and not sliced) would be to season it and wrap in bacon held by toothpicks. Smoke a bit( or not ) and finish on the grill,butterfly it after 7-8 minutes about hallway through the strap to cook the middle some and slice and serve.

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