Recipe: How to Cook Elk Machaca

wild game
Machaca is a great recipe for tougher cuts of elk or venison, such as neck roasts.David Draper

In traditional terms, machaca is a dried meat from Mexico that has been rehydrated and pounded to make it tender. You may have also heard it called machacado or carne seca. Ordered in a restaurant or taco shop today, machaca is more likely to be an inexpensive cut of beef braised (or even boiled) into submission, rather than pounded. The result is a pile of tender, moist pile of meat perfect for tucking into a tortilla. Because braising is a fundamental technique for game cooks, machaca is a natural for tough cut of venison, including an elk shoulder, neck or even a shank.

Elk Machaca

Ingredients
Elk shoulder or neck roast, about 3-5 lbs.
2-3 Tbsp. canola or vegetable oil
1 yellow onion, chopped
2 bell peppers, chopped
1 head garlic, peeled and chopped
1-2 jalapeños, seeded and chopped
1 cup game or beef broth
½ cup red wine vinegar
2 bay leaves
1 Tbsp. dried oregano
Additional stock, or water to cover

For the marinade:
¼ cup Worcestershire sauce
Juice of two limes
1 tsp. garlic powder
1 tsp. ground cumin
½ tsp. ground cinnamon
½ tsp. salt

Directions
1. Whisk the marinade ingredients together in a medium bowl. Place the elk roast into a zip-seal bag and pour the marinade over. Refrigerate a minimum of four hours, or overnight.

2. Heat a couple tablespoons of oil in a large Dutch oven set over medium-high heat. Remove the roast from the marinade and pat dry. Place the meat in the Dutch oven, turning until each side is well browned. Transfer the meat to a plate.

3. If necessary, add a bit more oil to the Dutch oven, then sauté the onions and bell peppers, until the onions become soft. Add the chopped garlic and cook briefly until it just becomes fragrant, then add the remaining ingredients. Place the elk back into the Dutch oven and, if necessary, pour in a bit more stock or water to bring the level of the liquid even with the meat. Cover and lower the heat just to a simmer. Cook 2-3 hours or until the meat shreds easily.

4. Remove the meat from the Dutch oven and let cool slightly. With your fingers or two forks, shred the meat into fine strands that can then be used as taco or burrito fillings, or cooked with eggs for a traditional breakfast.