Backcountry Bistro: Montana BHA's 2023 Wild Game Cookoff Recipe


Grilled Elk Steak and Morel Sandwich with Elk Tallow Twice-Fried Frites and a Montana Bush Pilot


When I think of Montana and reflect on what it took for me to harvest an elk this year, I think of hard work, hearty meals that fill you up, and maybe a fun, surprise at the end to wrap everything up. This is a recipe that Helena Regional Leader Anne Jolliff and I made to represent the Montana Chapter in the Wild Game Cook-off during Rendezvous this year. We decided to make an Italian-style grilled elk steak sandwich with morel mushrooms, and paired it with fries cooked in elk tallow, and a cocktail I call the Montana Bush Pilot. 

It requires a couple unique pantry items such as:

  • bone broth (I use Hank Shaw’s recipe - we make a bunch and pressure can it.)
  • fresh or rehydrated morel mushrooms 
  • rendered elk tallow (Elevated Wild has some great resources on rendering and cooking with tallow.) 
  • "Huxardos" - Luxardo-cured huckleberries (if you decide to make the Bush Pilot cocktail, the recipe for these is at the bottom)
  • spruce tip-habanero bitters (Modern Carnivore's Jamie Carlson gave me these. You can find a whole book of unique bitters recipes here to learn how to make your own.)

If you don't have the time or energy to make these extras, beef broth, cremini mushrooms,  any neutral frying oil, fresh/frozen huckleberries (or most other berries), and Angostura bitters will do!


Grilled Elk Steak and Morel Mushroom Sandwich


  • 1-2lb elk steaks. Something tender that does well on high heat is best. Flank, hanger, skirt, sirloin or ribeye would all work well. 
  • 1/2lb morel mushrooms, fresh or dried and rehydrated 
  • 1 shallot, sliced
  • 1/2 yellow onion, sliced thin
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 1/2 cup bone broth
  • 8-10 cloves of garlic, chopped
  • 3-4 anchovy fillets, chopped
  • 3-5 tbsp good olive oil
  • 1 bunch fresh oregano, chopped
  • 1/2 cup bunch fresh flat leaf parsley
  • 1 lemon, juice and zest
  • 2 tbsp mayonnaise
  • 1 tbsp whole grain mustard
  • 1 loaf good bread, ciabatta or baguette
  • Gruyère cheese, sliced
  • 1 handful (5oz) Arugula
  • Salt and pepper

Cooking Instructions

  1. Pull steaks from the fridge and pat dry. Lightly sprinkle with salt and pepper
  2. Let them sit at room temperature while you start the grill and make the salmoriglio sauce.
  3. To make salmoriglio sauceWith a mortar and pestle, crush 3 cloves of garlic and 2-3 anchovy fillets with some olive oil until it forms a smooth paste.
  4. Put the paste in a small mixing bowl and add the chopped fresh oregano, 1/2 cup of chopped parsley, juice from half a lemon, and 1 tsp fresh cracked pepper. 
  5. Whisk and add olive oil to make a salad dressing consistency.
  6. Spoon some of this salmoriglio sauce over the steaks, but be sure to save some for basting and serving later.
  7. To make mustard aioliChop 2-3 cloves of fresh garlic and 1-2 anchovy fillets.
  8. Combine with the 2 tbsp mayonnaise, 1 tbsp whole grain mustard, a squirt of lemon juice, zest from half a lemon, and a generous sprinkling of fresh cracked black pepper. Mix and set aside.
  9. To make the morels and onions: In a skillet heat up some butter and olive oil together. Add sliced onion and sauté until they start to turn translucent.
  10. Add fresh or rehydrated morels and sauté until they release their juices and the water cooks out.
  11. Add some more oil, 2-3 chopped garlic cloves and the shallot.
  12. When the mushrooms are cooked and browned on the edges pour in the bone broth, and lower the heat.
  13. Simmer until mushroom and onion mixture thickens enough to coat the back of a spoon. Turn off the heat and set aside.
  14. To make the grilled elk steaks: Place the salmoriglio-basted steaks on the low heat side of the grill, close the lid and cook for 2 min. Move them, same side down, to the hot side and cook lid open for another 2 minutes.
  15. Baste with more salmoriglio. Flip and repeat until the steaks read an internal temp of 120F.
  16. Place the steaks on a cutting board to rest.
  17. Toast the bread on the grill until lightly charred.
  18. Slice the steaks thin.
  19. To assemble: Spread the aioli on the bread. Pile the sliced steak, drizzle a little more salmoriglio, top with morel and onion mixture, Gruyère, and arugula. Serve with elk tallow twice-fried frites. The aioli makes a great dip for the fries as well, so consider making a bit extra.









Elk Tallow Twice-Fried Frites


  • 3 russet potatoes, sliced in french fry shapes
  • 10 oz elk tallow












Cooking Instructions

  1. In a dutch oven or other deep skillet, heat up the elk tallow to 350 degrees.
  2. In small batches, fry the potatoes until they just start to brown.
  3. Set them on a sheet pan lined with paper towels and set aside. Just before serving you will fry them again.
  4. In the same dutch oven, work in small batches again to cook the fries until they become brown and crispy.
  5. Sprinkle them with sea salt as they cool on the paper towel lined baking sheet. Serve immediately.













Montana Bush Pilot


  • Rye whiskey
  • Galliano
  • Sweet vermouth
  • Fernet-branca
  • Spruce tip- habanero bitters 
  • "Huxardos" - Luxardo-cured huckleberries
  • Lemon for garnish

Cooking Instructions

  1. In a shaker with ice, add 1 oz rye, 1 oz Galliano, 3/4 oz sweet vermouth, 1/4 oz Fernet-branca and 2 shakes bitters and shake.
  2. To a rocks glass, add ice, spoonful of Huxardos and their syrup, and lemon wheel for garnish.
  3. Pour the cocktail over the ice, serve and enjoy your flight.



  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 1/2 cup Luxardo liqueur
  • 1/2 lb huckleberries
  • Lemon zest

Cooking Instructions

  1. In a small pot boil the water, sugar and luxardo.
  2. Add the huckleberries, cinnamon stick, and lemon zest and turn down to a simmer.
  3. Let cook for 5-10 min and cool.
  4. Place in a jar and refrigerate.


About Aaron Agosto

Carpenter. Hunter. Fly fisher. Montanan.

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