Wild Recipes

Elk Shank Tagine Canapés

Latest posts by Brandon Dale (see all)
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As someone who lives in a large city (NYC to be exact), I love to explore new cuisines and am regularly afforded the opportunity to taste flavor combinations that I would have never had or dreamt of. It is awesome. I’ve had Moroccan tagine a few times before in restaurants, and each time, I left thinking, “I have to do this with wild game.” That is what spawned this recipe. The nutty, citrusy and warming flavors of tagine are something that I think really complement the hearty and silky textures of shank meat. Tagine is a fragrant stew with incredibly robust layers of flavors from ingredients like olives, lemon peel, turmeric and raisins to name a few. This recipe is something that I love to serve to people who have never eaten wild game or are skeptical – it is a surefire hit. Conversations after this dish usually start with something like, “How do I make this? How do I get the meat?”, and end with, “How do I learn to hunt?”. I know that’s a lot to expect from one dish, but give this a try at your next holiday party or potluck, and let me know how your conversations went!

Serving Size: 24 pieces

Time to make: 2 hours

Special Equipment: Grill, instant pot, cast iron

Also works with: Any slow-braising meat cuts

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Elk Shank Tagine Canapés

Recipe by Brandon Dale
0.0 from 0 votes
Course: Wild Recipes, AppetizerCuisine: Moroccan, Mediterranean


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  • 5 lbs elk, cubed

  • 1 teaspoon minced fresh ginger

  • 2 large white onions, sliced

  • 5 garlic cloves, minced

  • 1 teaspoon turmeric powder

  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt

  • 1 teaspoon black pepper

  • 0.5 tsp ground white pepper

  • 1 tsp sweet paprika

  • 15 Kalamata olive, pitted & halved

  • 15 green olives, pitted

  • 0.5 cup raisins, chopped

  • 1 whole preserved lemon rind, sliced

  • 2 cinnamon sticks, whole

  • 1 tablespoon lemon zest

  • 1 tablespoon chopped flat-leaf parsley

  • 1 tablespoon chopped mint

  • 0.25 teaspoon nutmeg

  • 1 cups venison or elk stock (can substitute with chicken stock)

  • 4 tablespoon olive oil

  • 0.25 cups olive brine (from jar)

  • 0.5 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice

  • 4 Pita breads

  • 1 cup Tzatziki sauce


  • De-bone your elk shank and cube the meat into 2-3 inch pieces. If using whole shanks, proceed as indicated for the rest of the recipe but shred meat from shanks after step 6.
  • Combine garlic, ginger, lemon zest and 2 tbsp olive oil with all of the spices. Toss meat in spice-blend and let marinate for at least 3-4 hours to overnight in the fridge.
  • Heat remaining 2 tbsp olive oil in cast iron or instant pot. Add shank meat and brown on one side. Remove from heat.
  • Sauté the onion until light brown. Add stock to deglaze the pot, and meat back into the same pot.
  • Add cinnamon sticks, raisins, preserved lemon rinds, olives, lemon and olive brine to the pot.
  • Cook at medium-high heat covered for 40 minutes to 1 hour until meat is fork tender or falling off of the bone. Reduce liquid if needed by cooking the last 10-15 minutes with the top removed. Remove pot from heat, salt if needed.
  • Heat grill to 400 ° F. Brush pita bread with olive oil and char until grill marks develop. Flip and repeat. Quarter cut each pita.
  • Assemble the pita bite as follows: place 1 tsp dollop of tzatziki sauce on center of pita, place 2 teaspoons elk shank tagine on top, garnish with equal parts chopped parsley & mint.

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Brandon Dale

Brandon grew up in South Louisiana camping, kayaking, hunting and fishing, and he is an avid fly-fisherman and hunter. Now living in NYC for graduate and medical school, he finds solace in the woods and waters of the Upstate NY, Hudson Valley, Long Island and Vermont.

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