Memorial Day cookouts are right around the corner so the timing of this blog couldn’t be any better! I never thought I’d be excited about making (or eating) meatloaf because generally meatloaf is kind of wah-wah-wahhhh on the scale from zero to exciting, but here I am, writing an entire blog about it! I’ve always LOVED cooking wild game because it’s healthy, tastes amazing, and most importantly, I know where it comes from because I hunt it myself. I grew up eating moose, caribou, and deer meat that my dad had hunted and rarely ever saw my parents buy meat from the grocery store. Now that I’m a wife/mom/adult, I am overly aware of how important it is to eat lean, healthy protein, and not much can compare to the health benefits of eating wild game.
Wild game tends to have the lowest fat content (see ya never, love handles) and since the animals are roaming free, they are considered “free-range”, which means they’re not pumped with hormones and steroids like some of the commercially-raised animals that can be bought for a couple bucks at the grocery store. (Side note: I am NOT bashing the farming industry – there are a lot of great, sustainably farmed ranches that I think are amazing, and they work hard to give the animals a good, healthy life. This is a great option if you don’t hunt or know anyone who does, but I prefer to go straight to the source and hunt my meat myself). The hunting life is not for everyone (I’ll definitely write some blogs about this soon!), but it’s a great way to get outdoors, fill the freezer, and appreciate the meat that ends up on your dinner plate!
The elk meat that I used for this recipe was from a hunt I went on last fall in Oregon with my friends from Leupold. My friend Riza and I were hunting in the pouring rain for days, and I finally got a chance at my very first Roosevelt bull elk at the very top of a mountain range. By the time we had to pack the elk out to the vehicle, it was nighttime in the torrential rain, and we had to scale back down the mountain and up the other side with the elk meat on our backs (think: 1000+ pounds of weight in addition to all the gear we were already packing!). My friend, Cam Hanes, (expert bow hunter, hardcore athlete, runs eighty bajillion miles in the mountains every day for fun…) lives a couple hours away and came to the rescue to give us a hand packing it out. Since he is basically made of pure muscle, we loaded most of the weight on Cam’s back, which worked out perfectly for the rest of us weaklings (ha – thanks Cam!). This hunt was one of my favorite memories because nothing about it was comfortable or easy, but that made the accomplishment even more sweet and memorable. Now every time I cook the meat from that hunt, I stop and appreciate the elk that gave its life and think about the amazing week I spent in Oregon with my good friends, hiking mountains and breathing fresh air. Gosh, it’s great to be a hunter and know exactly where your food comes from!
But back to reality…life gets BUSY during the week (job, traveling, husband, baby, building a house… woof), so once a week I try to prep some sort of meat that I can throw on salads, in tacos, or pair with a veggie side dish in the coming week. My latest concoction: Elk Meatloaf! It was my first attempt and it turned out SO GOOD!!!! I used my Traeger Grill but you can also throw it in the oven. I kept sneaking back to the kitchen to slice off another piece as if it was chocolate cake or something.
So I know meatloaf isn’t the most glamourous dish but it IS easy, quick, and healthy, and Leni LOVES it (if you can’t tell by her excitement below!). So if you’re looking for some dinner inspo and have some ground meat lying around (I use wildgame, but you can definitely sub it for lean ground beef or ground turkey if preferred!), do yourself a favor and try this recipe out!
EVA’S ELK MEATLOAF
- 2 lbs ground elk meat (or any lean, ground meat of your choosing)
- ¾ cup dry bread crumbs (I prefer seasoned, but unseasoned is fine too)
- ½ cup Traeger BBQ sauce (or your favorite BBQ sauce)
- 2 tbsp parmesan cheese
- 1 egg
- 1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
- 1 tsp minced garlic
- ½ cup fresh parsley (or 2 tbsp of dried parsley works, too)
- 1 tbsp onion powder
- ½ tsp each dried basil, dried oregano, salt, pepper
- ⅓ cup ketchup
- ⅓ cup brown sugar
- ¼ cup apple cider vinegar
- Preheat Traeger (or regular oven) to 350 degrees F.
- Spray a loaf pan with nonstick spray.
- Mix all ingredients (except for the glaze) by hand in a large bowl. Be careful not to overmix.
- In a separate small bowl, mix together the glaze ingredients.
- Pour ½ of glaze into the bottom of the loaf pan.
- Put the meat mixture into the loaf pan so it fills the pan evenly.
- Spread remaining glaze mixture over the top of the meatloaf.
- Bake for approximately 1 hour, or until the internal temperature reaches 165 degrees F and meat is cooked through.
- Let stand for five minutes before slicing.
What are your go-to wild game recipes? What recipes do you want to see more of? Comment below and make sure you subscribe to my blog, so you’re the first to know what’s going on!