Yak meat is growing in popularity and availability. My friends in the know are all talking about it. They say it’s leaner than beef, just like bison, and doesn’t have any gamy taste. That’s a nice catchphrase. But yak meat is sweeter and has a depth of flavor—meaning it hits different taste buds on your tongue (I’ll address that later in this post). Our local yak from Bellvue, Colorado, isn’t dry like some grass-fed meat can be. Depending on what type of pasture and forage grass the animals ate, as well as the specific cut of meat, yak has a nice fat content, and the meat is moist and flavorful.
One friend said it was so trendy they couldn’t keep it stocked at one of New York City’s finest markets. A celebrity chef I know from Brooklyn emailed me about local ranchers who might have some. As for us in the West, it is locally available, and we’re lucky.
So if you’re not a master at the grill and don’t want to ruin your first attempt at an expensive cut of meat—listen up!
You can treat this delicately flavored meat two ways: marinate it or add more fat (which also adds more flavor) to your yak recipes. Enjoy a new adventure in eating.
Chili con Carne with Yak
Here’s a winning recipe for 6 to 8 good appetites. Chef’s note: I added bitters because the yak meat is slightly sweeter, and bitters enhance the flavor. It’s the perfect counterbalance for your taste buds.
2 tablespoons olive oil
1–2 tablespoons pork fat or bacon drippings
2 large onions, diced
1 Anaheim green pepper, diced (or substitute green bell pepper for less heat)
2 cloves of garlic, minced
2 lbs. ground yak meat
1 lb. ground pork shoulder, not too lean (if necessary, ask your butcher to grind some fat into it)
1 (28 oz.) can Muir organic diced tomatoes
1 can organic red kidney beans, washed and drained
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1 tablespoon each dried oregano and red chili powder
1 teaspoon smoky cumin, or to taste
1 tablespoon Dram Citrus Medica bitters or cocktail bitters of your choice, or zest of 1 whole lemon plus zest of ½ orange
1 tablespoon sea salt and black pepper
½ cup sharp cheddar cheese, grated (optional)
Sliced green onions (optional)
Corn muffins with butter (optional)
- Drizzle olive oil in a large saucepan over high heat. Add pork fat or bacon drippings.
- Add onions and Anaheim pepper. Sauté 5–10 minutes, or until they begin to caramelize. Lower the heat to medium.
- Add garlic. Stir for 3 minutes. Add yak meat and ground pork. Cook until meat is lightly browned, stirring occasionally to break up the meat.
- Add diced tomatoes, red kidney beans, and tomato paste. Cook on medium heat for half an hour, or until ingredients are well blended and bubbly.
- Stir well, then add the spices. Add the bitters, salt, and pepper. Taste and correct seasonings.
- Serve in individual bowls. If desired, garnish with grated cheddar and green onions, and serve with corn muffins and butter (this always accompanies chili con carne at our house).
Sizzling Yak Steaks
This marinade yields enough for 4 steaks.
½ cup olive oil
1 tablespoon roasted sesame oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
½ teaspoon each ground coriander, cumin, and sage
1 tablespoon bitters (Dram’s Sage) or 2 tablespoons dry sherry wine
4 yak steaks
- Mix all ingredients in a flat glass dish. Add steaks. Cover with plastic wrap and marinate for at least 2 hours, the longer the better. Turn steaks at least once to coat evenly.
- Grill on medium high heat until desired doneness. Do not over cook. Like beef, yak meat continues to cook while resting.
To choose your organically grown and fresh ingredients wisely, use the following criteria:
- chemical- and hormone-free meat
- wild-caught fish
- pasture-raised, organic eggs
- whole, unrefined grains
- virgin, unrefined, first-press organic oils
- whole-food, unrefined sweeteners
- pure, clean, spring water
- sea salt
- raw and/or cultured milk and cream products
Photo by Phyllis Quinn