Elk Burgers with Huckleberry Margaritas

September marks the creeping of crisp mornings and blissfully warm afternoons, the turning of trees and fragrant smell of decaying leaves are a few of my favourite characteristics of autumn. These elements are nostalgic to me. As a young person growing up, those crisp mornings also meant the start of a new school year. The unwrapping of new pencils and binders was one-part excitement and one-part anxiety. I’ve since traded in the unwrapping of pencils and binders for the brewing of coffee for thermoses, the packing of lunches and ammunition to name a few things in a much more robust pack sack. The ratio of excitement when September first arrives is one- and three-quarter parts excitement to one quarter part anxiety, just enough to keep me on my toes.

My love for hunting was spawned from my love for cooking. I felt it was important to become part of the whole process. I wanted to be hands-on in the truest sense, of the field to table experience. The result was that I fell completely in love with it. In my previous years, just being out in the bush and being quiet, observing the natural world became my favourite activity. Throw in hot coffee, lunches and snacks with the often hilarious, conflicting stories by my two silver haired hunting partners about their youth, and this is a recipe for a great day. Much like cooking, hunting offers a lifetime of learning and opportunities of shared experiences. Feeding friends and family with your harvest from your garden and meat from a successful hunt is incredibly rewarding. Dinner tables are filled with stories of hunting adventures both present and past that are as rich as the morel mushroom sauce I like to prepare for my Elk and Venison roasts.

The crisp morning walks to school are now replaced with early morning stalks through the dewy bush. My new classroom is filled with trees, scat and animal tracks, which if I’m lucky will render the toasting of glasses and many dinners with family and friends for the next three seasons until those crisp fall mornings return. It’s September first and for me, school’s in.

Elk Burgers

  • 2lbs of Ground Elk
  • 2tsp Worstershire
  • 1tsp of salt
  • .5 tsp ground pepper
  • 1tsp BBQ Sauce
  • 1 tsp chopped rosemary

Combine all ingredients and form into 150 gram patties, we kept this recipe very minimal to be able to focus on the flavour of the elk itself. Being that elk meat is very lean the cooking time is quite a bit quicker, BBQ each patty 2 to 3 minutes each side depending on thickness. Dress with your favourite accoutrements on top of a brioche bun.

Zucchini Pickles

  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 medium zucchini diced or in ribbons (about 1 pound)
  • 2 cups apple cider vinegar
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1½ tsp ground mustard
  • 1½ tsp mustard seed
  • ¾ tsp turmeric
  • ½ tsp crushed red pepper flakes (optional)

Combine the vinegar, sugar, mustard seed, turmeric and red pepper flakes in a small saucepan over medium heat.Simmer for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally to be sure that the sugar dissolves, then remove from heat and set aside.Place the zucchini in a large jar (or multiple smaller jars) and pour over the pickling liquid ensuring that all of the zucchini is covered.Place lid on jar and refrigerate for at least one day before serving. The pickles can be stored in the refrigerator for up to two months.

Huckleberry Margarita

Per margarita, multiply as necessary

  • 1.5 ounce 100% agave silver/Blanco tequila
  • .5 ounce Triple Sec
  • 1 ounce fresh lime juice
  • .5 ounce simple syrup
  • ½ cup frozen huckleberries
  • ½ cup ice cubes
  • 2 teaspoons kosher with ½ teaspoon chilli powder for rim.

Rim margarita glass with salt and chilli powder, combine remaining ingredients in a blender and blend till smooth.

by Lacey Wilson, Recipes by Barrie Elliott

Photo by Matt Kuhn Photography