Wednesday, September 08, 2010

Foodbuzz 24x24: My Taste of Colorado

When I learned that Foodbuzz would sponsor my perfect meal, team up with Electrolux to raise awareness about ovarian cancer, and donate $250 to Ovarian Cancer Research Fund on my behalf, I thought: PERFECT WIN-WIN. And so I dedicate this blog post to survivors of ovarian cancer (in admiration of your strength and resilience) and the State of Colorado (in gratitude for providing me with a bounty of ingredients about which to blog).
The weekend of my perfect meal was the weekend of the Taste of Colorado, but we had been invited to J&M's cabin, Castle View. Castle View is perched on the edge of Pike National Forest, just on the other side of the Continental Divide, near Eleven Mile Lake. It's out there, far, far away from the hub-bub of civilization. The ingredients for the meal would have to travel 2.5 hours by car from Denver. Not to get preachy à la Barbara Kingsolver, but no food should have to travel much more than that. So I decided to make the meal out of ingredients produced in Colorado.

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The decision was easy to make. Colorado is a tremendous food-producing state and, as you may have read before, I get a great deal of my produce from my very own garden in Denver. The elk came from Grande Elk Farm in Del Norte. The eggs and cream came from Grant Family Farms in Wellington. The wines from Mesa County. Everything else came from somewhere in between, thanks to In Season Market.
We arrived at Castle View the night before the big meal. While we caught up with our hosts, I prepared the elk with a marinade, including New Belgium 1554 black ale. The next morning, all the ingredients from around the good State of Colorado got together for a 3 Hour Summit. Grilled anaheim peppers and tomatoes from the Denver Rose Garden, jumped into the Fort Collins beer-broth concoction. Then the Del Norte elk joined them. And that was the official start of the Taste of Colorado Party.
It gave us a lot of time to do some hiking around Castle View, and explore some of the neighboring summits ourselves.
In the final hour of the 3 Hour Summit, we shifted gears and got ready for dinner. Also on the menu: roasted beet and carrot salad, dirty mashed potatoes, and a plum and raspberry cobbler. Everything but the potatoes and raspberries came from the Rose Garden in Denver.
Despite the fact that we were all operating in relaxed cabin-mode, we still managed to coordinate dinner like a well-oiled machine. The table was set, the wine uncorked, and the food brought to the table, all in time to eat dinner while the sun set behind Saddle Mountain. We were temporarily quiet while we passed the food around and took in our surroundings.
And now, without further ado, I present five dinner plates, practically licked clean.
So that's it, folks. That's My Taste of Colorado.  The only tough part of the entire experience (aside from getting out of the office on Friday afternoon) was having to put out the fire and call it a night.  The recipe for my braised elk roast is below. If you want more recipes/instructions on the rest of this meal, make your request in the comment section below and I'll post those recipes as my next entry.

Thanks for reading. I'll take this as my final opportunity to wish you and your loved ones good ovarian health.

Braised Colorado Elk Roast
Elk, as it turns out, is an extremely lean meat, even when it is farm-raised. So don't be afraid of the butter and bacon fat that is left in the pot. It is insignificant in the whole scheme of this roast, much needed given the leanness of the elk, and just plain delicious. If you are fat-phobic, feel free to skim the fat off the top of the broth before boiling it down to serve.

3-4 lb elk shoulder
10 cloves garlic, mashed and minced
2 large onions, chopped
1/2 lb cherry smoked bacon, diced
10 anaheim peppers, roasted, skinned, and diced
2 tbsp butter (unsalted)
2 medium tomatoes, peeled and diced
2 bottles black ale (I used New Belgium Brewery's 1554, robust and sweet)
3 tbsp ground cumin
2 tbsp chili powder
1 lime
salt and pepper to taste

Place one chopped onion and 4 minced cloves of garlic in a gallon ziplock bag with elk shoulder. Pour both bottles of black ale into the bag and seal it. Place the bag in the refrigerator for 8-24 hours, rotating once or twice every few hours, to make sure everything is well-mixed.

Preheat oven to 225 degrees F and arrange the rack so that the dutch oven can fit into the oven with its lid on. Remove the elk from the bag. Reserve the liquids from the bag by pouring it through a sieve into a bowl. Set liquids aside and discard the solids. Liberally salt and pepper the elk. Mix the cumin and chili powder in a small bowl and rub all over the elk. Set the elk aside. Melt the butter in a large dutch oven over medium-high heat and saute the remaining garlic in the butter. Add the bacon, stirring, till the bacon is just barely starting to get cooked. Place the elk into the dutch oven to brown on all sides, about 3-4 minutes per side. Remove the elk and set aside on a plate. Saute the remaining chopped onion in the bacon fat. Remove the onion and set aside. Slowly add some of the reserved liquids from the ziplock bag to deglaze the dutch oven. Put the elk back into the dutch oven, adding also the onion, peppers, and tomatoes. Stir the mixture, place the lid onto the dutch oven, and put the dutch oven into the preheated oven. Cook for about 3 hours, turning the elk every hour.

Remove from oven and place the dutch oven on the stovetop. Remove the elk to a cutting board while the remaining liquids boil, about 10 minutes. Squeeze the lime into the beer broth. Add salt and a generous amount of freshly ground pepper to the elk-beer broth. While that is boiling, slice the elk thinly, against the grain. Serve the elk with the beer broth. I highly recommend using dirty mashed potatoes to sop up some of that beer broth as well.


  1. Charmaine! Lovely post and pics. Thank you for sharing this experience and for the wonderful meal. Hopefully we can start a "taste of Colorado" tradition at Cabin Castle View. M!

  2. I think that would be a splendid idea!

  3. This meal looks FABULOUS and what a great trip to Colorado! My sister just moved there last year from Ohio and she loves it!


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