It happened again, another strange phone call from a friend telling me that they had some strange ingredient that they thought I would want. This time it was one of the ladies I work with who had mentioned to me some time ago that her father raised elk and from time to time would butcher an elk. I had asked her what he did with the offal and if he would be willing to part with it. Apparently he was willing to part with it because after our conversation I found an elk liver, heart and tongue in the freezer at work waiting for me. Needless to say I was beyond excited. I love heart and tongue and to get one from an elk was a special treat. I have never been elk hunting and the only elk I have ever eaten was from the ones my uncle had shot. Elk is some of the best meat I have ever tasted and I could only imagine how good the offal was going to be.
When I got home I had to figure out what I was going to do with all of it. It took some time but after St. Patty's day I decided to corn the tongue, so it is sitting in a brine right now and will be ready in a few days. The heart and liver were a little harder to decide what to do with. I love grilled heart and was thinking about making a sausage of some sort with the liver. Unlike a the deer and antelope offal I am used to dealing with the elk heart and liver are much larger. A deer heart is about 8-10 ounces and very manageable for one person to enjoy grilled or fried. The elk heart on the other hand was 2 1/2 pounds and would be a little bit more than one person could handle. My wife is willing to try most things but probably wasn't going to eat a whole pound of heart. The liver was massive, it weighed in at 4 1/2 pounds and I know I wasn't going to be able to eat all that myself.
I had recently picked up Michael Symon's new cookbook, Carnivore and as I was paging through it I saw a recipe for liverwurst. I had never made liverwurst before but had it on my list of things to try and make. In the book the recipe calls for pork liver, pork shoulder and back fat so I figured I could modify that to use elk liver and elk heart and I have a good supply of pork fat so I thought I'd give it a try. The process of making liverwurst isn't that different from making most sausages although Chef Symon's recipe called for grinding the meat three different times. I am not nearly that patient so my mixture was only ground twice, once through a medium grinding plate and once again through a fine grinding plate.
What I ended up with was a delicious sausage, I don't know that I have ever had Liverwurst before so I don't have anything to compare it to. I have had braunschweiger and that is apparently similar, and the biggest difference between mine and what I have had in the past was texture. My Liverwurst was good but didn't have that soft almost creamy texture that braunschweiger has and maybe its not supposed to. By itself it has a very mild and pleasant flavor but i think it needs more fat, because the heart is so lean I think I should have use more fat. I also boiled them all together and had a hard time controlling the temperature of the large pot of water I was using. The next time I make this I am going to use a smaller pot and only do a couple at a time. Over all I am extremely happy with the results but I can definitely see room for improvement.
After eating a bunch of it plain I started thinking about what would go well with it, no surprise whole grain mustard and pickles seemed to work well. As did the pickled fennel and horseradish, but my favorite was on a piece of grilled bread with a slice of grilled apple and a smear of port and honey jelly with a little sage. I also grilled the Liverwurst just to give it a little warmth.
Elk Liverwurst (inspired by Michael Symon's From his book Carnivore)
3 pounds elk liver
2 pounds elk heart
1 pound pork fat back
2 large white onions
3 tablespoons kosher salt
1/4 ounce instacure #1
1 tablespoon white pepper
3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground allspice
1 whole nutmeg ground
1 tablespoon coriander (toasted and ground)
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 tablespoon smoked paprika
1 tablespoon sweet paprika
1 tablespoon sugar
3/4 cup powdered milk
1. cut the heart, liver, fat and onion into 1 inch cubes and place in the freezer for on hour
2. grind the liver, heart, fat and onion through a medium grinding plate
3. thoroughly mix the rest of the ingredients into the meat mixture cover and refrigerate overnight.
4. the next day grind the meat mixture through a fine grinding plate then stuff into whatever casing you want to use, I used 2 inch bologna casings.
5. bring a pot of salted water to a boil and place the sausages in the boiling water, bring the water back to a boil then turn down to a low simmer, I cooked mine for about an hour.
6. let the sausages cool and hang them up to dry for a couple of hours. If you aren't going to use them right away they should be stored in the freezer.