Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Caribou Rib Eye Steak - Sous Vide

Years ago when I was in charge of a Youth Conference trek in Oak Glen I had a friend donate some caribou meat he had obtained on a hunting trip in Canada. He grilled the caribou on a large bbq and hundreds of youth had an opportunity to try it, although many were too squeamish to try it. Unfortunately, I was so busy that day I did not really have an opportunity to be involved in the preparation or cooking and I have been wanting to try caribou again ever since.  
Caribou. Picture from Wikipedia.
Recently I got another chance. I obtained a beautiful 1.38 pound caribou rib eye steak from Anshu Pathak at Exotic Meat Market. Anshu has been the source of much of the game meat I've eaten over the years and this was one of the more beautiful game meat cuts I've had. 
Caribou rib eye steak. 
The other side.
The method for the cooking of game meat is critical because game meat tends to be very lean and over-cooking it results in dry, stringy and extremely tough meat. Even meat cooked rare can be very tough. A great solution is the use of a sous vide cooker. The benefit of the sous vide is you can cook a piece of meat to an exact temperature, cook it over a long period of time to soften it up, season it before-hand so that the seasoning is diffused into the meat during the cooking process, and all of that without losing any moisture. Judy gave me a sous vide cooker for my birthday and I've been looking for opportunities to use it. 

When I thought of caribou and the wild north, blackberries came to mind. I looked up some recipes involving venison and blackberries and set out to try my own concoction. I got a six ounce carton of blackberries and used about three ounces for the base of my marinade. I crushed them up into a liquid using a large fork. Then I added one tablespoon of Dijon mustard, one de-seeded and diced jalapeno pepper, a half teaspoon of crushed garlic, a quarter teaspoon of sage, a half teaspoon of ground pepper, a teaspoon of sea salt and a quarter cup of Kedem pure grape juice. 
Seeded and diced jalapeno
I cut the caribou steak into two sections and put each section into a plastic bag with half of the marinade and vacuum sealed them. I then cooked the caribou at 131 degrees F (55 degrees C) for five hours. 
One-half of the steak sealed in a vacuum packed pouch with the marinade.
The pouch after it has cooked for five hours. 
Contents of the pouch, including marinade.
After removing the cooked meat from the plastic pouches, I seared the steak in a frying pan with butter and oil to give it a little carmelization. The result was a perfectly cooked piece of meat - a nicely seared outside and very tender, lean and juicy pink rare inside. The jalapeno added a barely noticeable hint of heat and the berries a bit of sweetness which complemented the savory flavor. The only negative to the preparation was the blackberry seeds that got stuck between my teeth. 
Perfectly cooked rare caribou rib eye.


  1. The sous vide was a great purchase. I've never been that impressed with home-cooked venison, antelope, etc., but meat cooked this way is completely different from meat cooked in the oven, barbecue, or crock pot.

  2. Interesting blend of flavors... I never would have thought to use them together. It looks very tender. Nice!