Spice Cured Elk Tenderloin with a Dried Cherry Sauce and Sweet Potato Mash

Spice Cured Elk Tenderloin with a Dried Cherry Sauce and Sweet Potato Mash

© By Lois Ellen Frank

This recipe is for elk tenderloin. It can be made with other meat as well. I’ve made it with venison, and bison (buffalo), but have had other folks try it with beef. My vegan friends have done this rub with a Portobello mushroom and loved it. The meat is cured overnight, then seared the following day, and finished in the oven. We serve it with a dried cherry sauce that is easy to make and not too sweet and a sweet potato mash. The meat is very tender and delicious and everyone we have ever cooked this dish for, says it is the best meat dish that they have ever tasted.


Spice Rub
2-teaspoons whole coriander (toasted and ground)
2-teaspoons whole cumin seed (toasted and ground)
8-teaspoons anise seed (toasted and ground)
1/2-teaspoon whole black pepper (freshly ground)
2-teaspoons dried thyme (finely crushed or ground)
8-teaspoons dried Hatch New Mexico red chile powder (mild to medium)
1-teaspoon kosher salt

2 elk tenderloins (approximately 2 pounds total or 1 lb. each)
2 Tablespoons New Mexico red chile oil

Dried Red Cherry Sauce
½ cup dried tart cherries
1 cup dried sweet black bing cherries
3 cups black cherry juice
½ teaspoon kosher salt

Sweet Potato Mash
6 sweet potatoes (peeled and cut into 6 pieces)
2 Tablespoons sweet cream butter
1 teaspoon blackened garlic, finely chopped
Kosher salt (to taste)
Freshly ground black pepper (to taste)


Prepare the meat by trimming any fat or silver skin from the meat tenderloin if there is any. Set aside.
Toast and grind each of the spices that require toasting. Be careful not to burn the spices, as this will affect the flavor of the rub. You want to bring out the flavor of each spice by toasting it, but you do not want to burn any of them. Once the spice has toasted, remove from the dry skillet and let cool.
In a spice grinder, grind each of the spices that need grinding and set aside. After all of the spices are toasted and ground, combine the dry ingredients together in a bowl and mix well, making sure there are no clumps.
Rub 1 Tablespoon of the New Mexico red chile oil onto the meat and then rub the spice mixture onto both sides of the meat tenderloin so that it covers all of the meat.
Place the meat tenderloin on a sheet pan, cover with plastic wrap, and let sit overnight in the refrigerator. Note: If you are using pine, place a branch underneath each piece of the meat tenderloins and then place another one on top of each of the meat tenderloins before covering with plastic wrap.
To make the sauce, combine the dried tart and the dried sweet black cherries with the black cherry juice in a medium sized saucepan. Cook over medium to high heat, for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally, until it reduces and the cherries are soft. Remove about 1/3 of the mixture including the cherries and blend until smooth. Return the blended mixture to the saucepan, so that the sauce is nice and thick, and add the kosher salt. Stir. Set aside.
To make the sweet potato mash, in a medium size stockpot boil 6 to 8 cups of water and add the cut sweet potato pieces. Boil the sweet potatoes for approximately 10 minutes or until the potatoes are soft, when poked gently with a fork. Remove from the boiling water and drain.
Using a stand mixer, add the potatoes. Using the metal paddle attachment, mash the potatoes together with the butter, garlic, salt, and pepper until completely mixed and you have a nice mashed texture. Return to the pot and keep warm while the meat cooks in the oven.
The next day, remove the meat tenderloin from the refrigerator. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. In a medium sized skillet, over high heat, heat the remaining Tablespoon of New Mexico red chile oil until hot but not smoking. Sear the elk tenderloin for approximately 3 minutes on each of the four sides, then remove from the heat. Place the meat tenderloin in a roasting pan.
Bake the tenderloin for approximately 6 to 10 minutes (depending on the calibration of your oven) for medium rare and longer for more well done meat. I suggest eating the meat medium rare for this dish.
Remove from the oven and let rest while you prepare your plate with the sweet potato mash.
Slice the tenderloin and serve hot with some of the dried black cherry sauce spooned on top.
Serve immediately.

Serves 6 as a main course

Click here for Red Chile powder

Click here for Red Chile Olive Oil