Elk Shoulder Bacon

This recipe, prepared by BHA member and Montana Chapter Vice Chair Tom Healy, was featured fare at the 2019 Montana Chapter Campout. To say it was a hit is an understatement; the dish was a highlight of the event. In addition, Tom prepared a dessert of elk bacon, almond and bear fat brittle over hand-cranked maple buttermilk frozen custard and topped with rhubarb currant jam. Here's how to make the bacon. 

Elk Shoulder Bacon

  • 5 lbs. elk shoulder & neck
  • maple syrup 
  • black pepper

Brine Ingredients:

  • ¾ cup canning/pickling/kosher salt
  • ¾ cup maple syrup 
  • 2 tsp pink salt (instacure optional)
  • 5 cloves garlic
  • 1 tsp black pepper
  • 1 gallon water


Cooking Instructions: 
1.) Make the brine by mixing the ingredients together. Place the meat in the brine and refrigerate or keep in a cool place. Meat should brine for one day per ½ inch of meat thickness.
2.) Remove the meat from the brine, rinse lightly and pat dry.
Hot Smoking
For more tender cuts, like “split” flat irons (silver skin removed) or mock tenders, hot smoking works well. It is also fine for tougher cuts if you like tougher bacon.  
  1. Coat the meat with maple syrup and black pepper.
  2. Smoke with fruitwood or hickory at 200 degrees to an internal temperature of 150 degrees.  Smoking time will vary with meat thickness.
  3. Remove from smoker and cool. Glaze again with black pepper and maple syrup if desired.


Cold Smoke – Sous Vide Finishing:

This technique works well for tough cuts such as neck flats or flat irons with the silver skin still in and makes ultra tender bacon with finer cuts of meat.
  1. With a proper cold smoke set-up, remove the meat from the brine, rinse lightly and place in smoker for 2-4 hours.
  2. Remove from the smoker and seal in a Sous Vide bag.  Set the Sous Vide at 145 degrees and leave the meat in for 4 (tender cuts) to 36 hours (neck flats).
  3. Remove the meat from the Sous Vide bags and pat dry.
  4. Glaze with maple syrup and black pepper and finish in a hot searing pan or on a very hot grill.


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