There are a lot of people that aren’t into the natural thing, but that’s what we stand for here” said Cannizzaro. “We feel that the public should know where everything comes from – that it is an all natural product, and that it is healthy for your family.
—Jacky Cannizzaro, general manager, All Natural Meats
My apologies to the vegetarians out there, but for my culinary adventure this week it was game time. And by that I mean elk, served as rare as it comes.
Several weeks ago I made - somewhat accidentally - elk carpaccio for some guests. I'd purchased a rather large round of elk sirloin and had been doing my best on the grill to keep that cut around rare-to-medium-rare. But after resting it for a solid half an hour; I cut in to find it blue. No worries though, as my guests weren't squeamish at the sight of the uber-rare interior, and we soon found ourselves sitting around the cutting board slicing off pieces and simply dipping them in some horseradish-spiked dijon.
After the first taste we were all hooked, so this week I really wanted to know where to get the best elk around.
And that's where All Natural Meats in Carmen, MB comes in to play. All Natural Meats was opened in October 2008 after Roger and Rachel Philippe purchased the old abattoir in Carmen. The farming couple had been looking to find a place to process and sell the grass-fed beef they raise on their farm in St. Claude, MB.
At the abattoir I was met by the bubbly General Manager Jacky Cannizzaro, a lady who knows her meats and who is passionate about the local food All Natural produces.
Food Dude Mike Green touring All Natural Meats (Jacky Cannizzaro)
"There are a lot of people that aren't into the natural thing, but that's what we stand for here" said Cannizzaro. "We feel that the public should know where everything comes from - that it is an all natural product, and that it is healthy for your family."
This past January, All Natural Meats got into the elk business, hooking up with the Stonewood Elk Ranch in Stonewall to process elk -- a meat now in high demand at some of Winnipeg's best restaurants and shops including Sydney's and Fude, and organic markets like Eat It and Local Meats & Frozen Treats.
After touring the facilities Jacky served me up some serious elk facts that will only tantalize you carnivores more when it comes to choosing this game meat. For one, elk is incredibly high in iron, and very rich in protean (22% Jacky tells me) while the fat content is only about 9%, which is evident when you look at the deeply coloured, non-marbled meat.
And as for cooking, well my friends, err on rare, super rare.
Here's the recipe for elk carpaccio:
I started with a beautiful little bit of elk tenderloin, which All Natural sells in medallion form. After letting the meat come to room temperature I simply seared the tenderloin (after salt and peppering it of course) in a scorching hot cast iron for about 10 seconds per side. After that, just put it on to a cutting board and let it rest for only about a minute.
Get your best knife out and then slice the tenderloin as thinly as you can, then lay out the strips on a warm plate in a circular pattern leaving a nice little space in the middle. Once you've made your jazzy little meat display, throw a couple arugula leaves (just a few) on the meat, with a few shavings of a hard cheese, like Grana Padano.
To finish, place a healthy dollop of Dijon mixed with horseradish (a half-and-half mix will do) in the middle of the plate (this will give you just enough acid to buttress the meat) and simply finish with a light smattering of olive oil and a bit of smoked sea salt if you so desire.