Roasted Elk Tenderloin with Butternut Squash Puree

Main courses
By Chef James Clark, The Carolina Inn, Chapel Hill, N.C.

2 cleaned elk tenderloins
Salt and pepper
1 tablespoon olive oil
4 garlic cloves
4 sprigs of fresh thyme
1 stick of butter
Salt & pepper

Butternut Squash Puree:
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 shallots, minced
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 medium butternut squash, peeled, seeded and medium diced
3 cups vegetable stock
1 cup heavy cream
1 tablespoon five-spice powder
Salt & pepper to taste



For the Elk:

Heat a cast-iron skillet and season the tenderloins with salt and pepper.

Add the olive oil to the skillet and, once it is very hot, add the whole garlic cloves and tenderloins. Sear for 2 minutes on one side. Turn to other side and sear for another 2 minutes. Add the thyme to the pan and the stick of butter and turn the heat down.

When the butter begins to foam, start basting the tenderloins, turning often, for 2 more minutes.

Remove the elk and allow it to rest for 4 minutes before slicing.

For the Butternut Squash Puree:

In a heavy bottom pot, heat the olive oil. Add the shallots and garlic and cook until soft. Then add the cut squash, vegetable stock and heavy cream. Allow it to simmer until the squash is fork tender, but not mushy.

Skim out the squash onto a cookie sheet and place into a 350-degree oven to dry for 12–15 minutes or until it stops steaming. Continue to reduce the cooking liquid down to 2 cups.

Remove the squash from the oven and transfer to a blender. Add the five-spice powder and reduced cooking liquid. Puree. Season with salt and pepper to taste.