Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Lean Meat Alternatives: Ground Elk with Israeli Cous Cous and Fresh Spinach

Ground Elk with Israeli Cous Cous and Fresh Spinach

Ok, so your first question today is probably, "Why should I choose Elk over Beef?"  Well, according to http://www.elkusa.com/buy_elk_meat.htm, "the answer is simple: compared to beef, elk meat is lower in fat, lower in cholesterol, lower in calories, higher in iron and phosphates, and yet contains the same amount of protein. Elk are raised without any chemicals or hormones, which you might be ingesting whenever you eat standard USDA beef!"


You can get frozen or fresh Elk from most health food stores. Durham Ranch is a great brand that sells fresh and frozen meats at Sprouts or Henry's.  It's lean, it cooks fast and has GREAT flavor, similar to that of Bison, but less gamey than Venison or Antelope.

For my first Elk adventure, I wanted to do something healthy and simple, to showcase the flavor of the meat.  I love using freshly roasted bell peppers, and you can't go wrong with fresh spinach.  I used Israeli cous cous as a starch, just to give it a hint of softness and some additional texture. It needed salt at the end, so I drizzled it with olive oil and then just sprinkled some coarse sea salt on top. It was perfect!  I finished the plate with a little four cheese Italian blend around the edges, but it wasn't necessary...just yummy!

This recipe is ready in less than an hour, looks and sounds REALLY fancy, and is very healthy!

Ground Elk with Israeli Cous Cous and Fresh Spinach

Prep Time: 10 minutes / Cook Time: 40 minutes / Servings: 4
Ground Elk with Israeli Cous Cous
and Fresh Spinach

  • 1 lb. ground Elk
  • 1 1/2 cups Israeli Cous Cous, prepared to package directions
  • 1 bell pepper (I used 1/2 yellow and 1/2 orange)
  • 2 cups raw spinach leaves, washed and drained
  • 3 scallions, chopped
  • 1/4 cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 1/2 tsp. garlic powder
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1/4 cup four cheese Italian blend (optional) 
  • 5-6 grape tomatoes for garnish

  1. Preheat oven to a high broil.  
  2. Cut the bell pepper in half lengthwise and remove the seeds.  Place the pepper halves in the broiler and cook for about 5 minutes until blistered and browned.  Remove from the heat, allow to cool, chop, and transfer to a large mixing bowl.  
  3. Prepare the Israeli Cous Cous according to package directions.  Transfer 1 1/2 cups of the cooked cous cous to the mixing bowl with the bell peppers.  Reserve and refrigerate the rest.  
  4. While the cous cous is cooking, heat a large skillet on medium heat with 1 tbsp. olive oil.  Add the ground Elk and chopped scallions.  Season with salt and pepper and the garlic powder.  Break up the Elk into small chunks, stir with the scallions and continue to cook until all the meat is browned and cooked through, about 7-10 minutes.  
  5. Add the Elk mixture to the mixing bowl, stir in the spinach and stir until all ingredients are combined.  Allow the heat from the cous cous and meat to wilt the spinach for 2-3 minutes.  
  6. To serve: Spoon about 1/4 of the mixture onto a plate, drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with salt.  Top with grape tomatoes and garnish with a pinch of cheese around the edges of the plate. 

Ground Elk with Israeli Cous Cous and Fresh Spinach

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