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Seared Elk Ribeye Steaks with Maple Mascarpone Grits

Begging to stay up late, scouring the JC Penney catalog for replica athlete wear, and dreaming of witnessing sport history in the making.  Two weeks every two years were completely preoccupied with Olympic obsession when I was a kid.

And I did rock that pink, purple, and white track suit from the ’96 Atlanta games proudly.

Not much has changed as an adult.  I’ve traded in my loud-and-proud track suit for more subtle USA mittens but the obsession is the same.

Olympic Mittens Team USA  // Peanut Butter & Dill Pickles Blog

I made a huge check on my bucket two years ago when I was lucky enough to attend the London 2012 games and while the summer games will always be my favorite, there really is something to be said for the winter games as well.

The artistry of figure skating and hoping this year I’ll learn what a triple salchow is; the knee-gripping excitement of moguls, and the anxiety over the heights reached in ski jumping.  I eat it up.

While most parts of the country are exhausted over the snow and cold we’ve experienced for the last few months, seeing the white capped mountains makes me want to escape to a chalet or cabin in the Rockies.  I couldn’t think of a better view out the window while curled up to the nightly coverage.

I also couldn’t think of a better dish in my lap than a spice rubbed, seared elk steak with creamy grits.

Seared Elk Ribeye Steaks with Maple Mascarpone Grits // Peanut Butter & Dill Pickles Blog

Nothing says winter comfort to me like this dish.  The spice rub on the elk is smoky and bitter–the perfect counterpart to creamy, slightly sweet grits.

Seared Elk Ribeye Steaks with Maple Mascarpone Grits // Peanut Butter & Dill Pickles Blog

Elk has such a rich taste that isn’t gamey at all.  Cooking it rare to medium rare is essential–any longer and you risk tough, chewy meat.  Of course you can always substitute beef if you can’t source elk.  I was able to get these beautiful steaks from the elk stand at our local winter farmer’s market.

If it were a sport, I’m certain this dish would take the gold.

Go Team USA!

Seared Elk Ribeye Steaks with Maple Mascarpone Grits // Peanut Butter & Dill Pickles Blog

Photography note: I’m well aware the amount of grits in the bowl is obscene.  I said that very thing as I was writing this post.  I cannot explain why this did not occur to me as I was photographing the bowl.  Call it what you like, my eyes have always been bigger than my stomach.  Unless you’ve been training for an Olympic sport, one scoop of grits with the steak should be more than enough!

Seared Elk Ribeye Steaks with Maple Mascarpone Grits

Serves 4


  • Grits
  • 1 tbsp. butter
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1/2 c. minced yellow onion
  • 1/2 tsp. dried thyme
  • 2 1/2 tsp. kosher salt, divided
  • 3 c. water
  • 3 c. milk
  • 1 c. stone ground white grits
  • 4 oz. mascarpone cheese
  • 3 tbsp. maple syrup
  • Steaks
  • Spice rub (recipe below)
  • 2 lbs elk ribeye steaks, 1" thick (4 steaks total, can substitute beef)
  • 1 tbsp. butter
  • 1 tbsp. olive oil


  1. Grits In a large saucepan, melt the tablespoon of butter over medium-low heat. Add the garlic, onion, thyme, and 1 teaspoon salt and saute until the onions are tender, about 3-4 minutes.
  2. Pour in the water, milk, and 1 teaspoon salt. Turn the heat up to high and bring the liquid to a boil.
  3. Whisk in the grits and reduce heat to medium. Cook the grits, whisking frequently, for 45-50 minutes or until tender. Fold in the mascarpone cheese, syrup, and 1/2 tsp. salt. Keep warm until ready to serve.
  4. Steaks In a large skillet, melt the tablespoon of butter and tablespoon of olive oil over medium-high heat. Pat the steaks dry and coat liberally with the spice rub.
  5. Sear the steaks 3-4 minutes on each side for medium-rare or until desired degree of doneness.
  6. Transfer the steaks to a cutting board and tent with foil. Let the meat rest for at least 10 minutes.
  7. Serve the steaks with the grits and a light arugula salad.

Steak Spice Rub


  • 2 tsp. instant espresso powder
  • 1 tsp. coarsely ground black pepper
  • 1 tsp. kosher salt
  • 1 tsp. chili powder
  • 1/2 tsp. smoked paprika
  • 1/2 tsp. granulated garlic
  • 1/2 tsp. granulated onion
  • 1/2 tsp. dried thyme
  • Pinch of star anise


  1. Combine all ingredients in a small bowl.

Filed under: Main Dishes


Writer of recipes. Storyteller with a food twist. Sarcasm/humor served on the side.


  1. Elise says

    I made this for family and friends in Colorado where we all met up for a ski week. Perfect location for this menu! I used real coffee grounds since we didn’t have espresso powder, and also subbed fennel for star anise. I made a pan sauce deglazed with some blackberry bourbon. The grits were amazing and complimented the elk beautifully. This was a restaurant quality meal and the culinary highlight of our trip. Grits were great for breakfast too!

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