Skip to main content

Big Cuts: Butcher Like A Boss

Big Cuts: Butcher Like A Boss
Print Recipe

As anyone who's hauled one out of the woods will attest, moose and elk are not deer. Sure, they're related, and in the kitchen they are similar in flavor, but let's face it: Moose and elk are big. Really big. So big that when you're butchering your animal, you'll need to think beef instead of lamb, as you would with a typical whitetail.

But that's a good thing. The variety of cuts you can get from a moose or an elk opens up a whole new world for you in the kitchen, especially if you are used to handling deer.

Butchering-Elk-and-Moose

Start with the Almighty Backstrap: Many of us leave this primo cut in long lengths, typically netting only four meals per deer. I cook whole and slice into medallions to serve. But on a moose, you can actually cut proper steaks, which in my world are at least an inch thick, preferably two inches. What's a medallion on a deer is a ribeye on a moose or elk.


But your options go well beyond that. Take the ribs. On a deer, you pretty much either trim the meat off for burger or cut them into whole, pork-sized racks. On a moose or elk, however, you can cut real-deal short ribs. Short ribs are one of my favorite cuts of beef: big, meaty, and rich with connective tissue and fat. Try them and short ribs may well be your new favorite cut.


The flanks of a moose or elk will give you several good-sized flank steaks. That long, triangular flap of pure muscle just inside the ribs? That's the skirt steak and, in my opinion, the best cut of beef on the animal. Both are great for grilling or for tacos. And if you are careful when you gut your moose or elk, you can save the hanger steak that separates the gut cavity from the lungs and heart. Beef hangar steak is one of the trendiest cuts of beef right now, as it offers skirt steak richness with the tenderness of ribeye.

What about the legs? Well, ever have a blade steak? It's a nice cut of meat from the muscles that nestle into the pocket made by the animal's shoulder blade. If you trim it out correctly, you get a sizable, triangular piece of meat split lengthwise by a thick layer of sinew. Separate the meat from the sinew and you get two blade steaks per shoulder.

Get Creative With Your Moose And Elk Butchery

On the hind leg your secret prize is the eye round, which some butchers call the hidden tenderloin. You find it by butchering your hind leg into its component muscles, a process called seam butchery, which I do with all of my big-game animals. The eye round is nestled between the rump and tip roast; I call it the "football roast" because, well, it looks like a football. It's a cylindrical muscle that's only about eight inches long in a typical deer, but can be twice that in a moose. The grain of the muscle runs horizontally, so eye round is a great cut for medallions or to air-dry for bresaola.




Finally, there are the shanks. I love whole deer shanks, but on a moose or elk, the shanks are so big you'd have to be Conan the Barbarian to eat one whole, not to mention have a cauldron to cook it in. So do what beef butchers do: slice the shank into cross sections for osso buco. Braised, the shanks are almost as good as short ribs.

Bottom line: Get creative with your moose and elk butchery. And remember, these cuts are worth seeking on truly large deer and caribou, too. It will spice up your winter meals and give you a whole new appreciation for the biggest of our big-game animals.

GET THE NEWSLETTER Join the List and Never Miss a Thing.

Recommended Articles

See More Recommendations

Popular Videos

Stuffed Elk Backstrap Recipe

Stuffed Elk Backstrap Recipe

Take your venison loin to a whole new level with this delicious reverse-seared stuffed elk backstrap. Smoking the backstrap on a Camp Chef Woodwind pellet grill first, then finishing it on a blazing-hot skillet or flattop, creates a perfectly cooked, medium-rare steak with a crispy, seared exterior. The filling of diced mushrooms and creamy Boursin cheese adds a whole new level of amazing flavors to an otherwise classic smoked venison loin.

New for 2021: 6.8 Western Rifle Cartridge

New for 2021: 6.8 Western Rifle Cartridge

The 6.8 Western features a .277-caliber bullet loaded into a case that's been optimized to fit longer, heavier bullets. Consider it a .270 on steroids, or more accurately, an improved version of the .270 Winchester Short Magnum, which never gained enough traction to make it mainstream.

New for 2021: Browning Maxus II Shotgun, Wicked Blend Shotshells

New for 2021: Browning Maxus II Shotgun, Wicked Blend Shotshells

Waterfowlers should take notice at the new products from Browning.

Best Whitetail Shot Placement with a Rifle

Best Whitetail Shot Placement with a Rifle

Craig Boddington breaks down where hunters should aim on a whitetail that provides the best possible margin for error.

See More Popular Videos

Trending Articles

Learn what freezer burn is, how it occurs, and how to slow it down with these tips.Why Freezer Burn Matters Recipes

Why Freezer Burn Matters

Jenny Nguyen-Wheatley

Learn what freezer burn is, how it occurs, and how to slow it down with these tips.

Is lever-action rifle dead? Not by a long shot; everything old is new again as classic lever guns find popularity among nostalgic hunters.The Return of Lever-Action Rifles Guns

The Return of Lever-Action Rifles

Craig Boddington - June 27, 2020

Is lever-action rifle dead? Not by a long shot; everything old is new again as classic lever...

We evaluate the 6.5 in a real-life case study. Is The 6.5 The Perfect Hunting Caliber? Ammo

Is The 6.5 The Perfect Hunting Caliber?

Mike Schoby

We evaluate the 6.5 in a real-life case study.

See More Trending Articles

More Recipes

In this recipe, wild turkey legs are cooked low and slow – first simmered in beer and then smoked with mesquite wood.Beer-Braised, Smoked Wild Turkey Legs Recipe Recipes

Beer-Braised, Smoked Wild Turkey Legs Recipe

Jack Hennessy

In this recipe, wild turkey legs are cooked low and slow – first simmered in beer and then...

Andy Moeckel reimagines wild game with his Flip Flop technique.The Flip Flop Method for Cooking a Deer Quarter Recipes

The Flip Flop Method for Cooking a Deer Quarter

Joe Ferronato

Andy Moeckel reimagines wild game with his Flip Flop technique.

This Pheasant Green Chile Enchiladas Recipe starts with an easy cooking technique that all but guarantees moist, tender meat.Pheasant Green Chile Enchiladas Recipe Recipes

Pheasant Green Chile Enchiladas Recipe

David Draper - November 30, 2020

This Pheasant Green Chile Enchiladas Recipe starts with an easy cooking technique that all but...

These juicy, flavorful venison brats are cooked and served up Wisconsin-style – simmered in beer, finished on the grill, and served with hard-cider sauerkraut and quality mustard.Wisconsin-Style Venison Brats and Hard-Cider Kraut Recipe Recipes

Wisconsin-Style Venison Brats and Hard-Cider Kraut Recipe

Jack Hennessy - January 29, 2021

These juicy, flavorful venison brats are cooked and served up Wisconsin-style – simmered in...

See More Recipes

Magazine Cover

GET THE MAGAZINE Subscribe & Save.

Digital Now Included!

SUBSCRIBE NOW

Give a Gift   |   Subscriber Services

PREVIEW THIS MONTH'S ISSUE Arrow

Buy Digital Single Issues

Don't miss an issue.
Buy single digital issue for your phone or tablet.

Buy Single Digital Issue on the Petersen's Hunting App

Other Magazines

Special Interest Magazines

See All Special Interest Magazines

GET THE NEWSLETTER Join the List and Never Miss a Thing.

Phone Icon

Get Digital Access.

All Petersen's Hunting subscribers now have digital access to their magazine content. This means you have the option to read your magazine on most popular phones and tablets.

To get started, click the link below to visit mymagnow.com and learn how to access your digital magazine.

Get Digital Access

Not a Subscriber?
Subscribe Now