Archive for the ‘Antelope’ Category

The Last [Root Cellar] Supper


I’m out. April 16th will mark the 2011 date that I ran out of 2010 garden veg in the root cellar. Turns out in one meal, I ran out of potatoes, carrots, and beets – all at the same time.

Things may have been able to hold out longer, but quality was definitely starting to suffer. In best shape were the carrots – still crisp and earthy. The beets had held on incredibly, but recently hit a wall and cratered in quality quickly. Perhaps the recent milder 6C did them in. One rotted. That’s it though. The potatoes were still in okay shape, the biggest problem being size – only the smallest were left, and small doesn’t store well.

That’s one lesson from my first year of root cellaring: size matters. The biggest of the veg fared the best in storage. Anything small was first to go soft. Another important lesson was that the cellar can handle a mild freeze. The first couple nights my cellar temp was near 0C, I was freaking out, putting hot stock pots of water in there to bring the temp up. I learned from experience that -2C was nothing to worry about. My dad says he’s had his dip to -7 without major damage. A last biggy would be my experience with washed carrots trumping unwashed. I’ll be washing my carrots this fall, no question.

Our celebratory last root veg supper included carrot sprouts/shoots – surprisingly pleasant atop a carrot slaw – to mark the season, along with a couple different cuts of pronghorn. The shot below is briefly marinated skewer or pronghorn heart grilled over a wood fire. I had no idea root cellaring would yield such successes in a first attempt. This growing season, the objective will simply be to grow and stow more.

There’s an Antelope in my Cellar


I was asked earlier this fall by the fine man that guides my moose hunts if I would butcher an antelope if he got one, in exchange for half the animal. Pretty good deal all around. So yesterday, the antelope arrived, and I left it in my garage, ready to be cut this morning. The temp was 2C, which made me happy, but as I was about to get into the hind quarter and take out the loins, I realized the animal had frozen in hunting camp more than I’d hoped. So into the cellar it goes, at about 6-7C, until it’s defrosted.

Guests are coming for dinner tonight, and on the menu is some antelope loin – which is to the right of my thumb in the photo. You can see my cut down the spine as I started to pull it out, and abandoned ship due to freeze. I hope the chill has left enough for us to enjoy some this evening. You can also see the surprisingly healthy amount of fat attached to the side [bottom right]. An observation: magpies are feasting on this stuff – freaking out, in fact. Last winter we hung pork lard, and nothing touched it. Even magpies like antelope, I guess.

Pretty exciting to have antelope. Also pretty exciting that my root cellar now provides me with the rich resource of a large walk-in fridge – large enough to hang animals. Have I mentioned that passive cold storage is underrated?

Smoked Antelope & Cheddar Crisp


It was the last pack from the 2008 antelope – an animal that had become revered as the game meat of choice over the past couple years around here, so tying into it was an event. A ‘leg roast’, which in this case meant the whole leg below the hip and above the knee [think a larger leg of lamb?]. It had stored well enough, I had a fire going to grill a piece, and we’d see what inspired us with the rest. Turns out the whole leg ended up over the fire with various tweaks of seasoning and herbs. I’ll spare you the photo essay and skip to the memorable part: smoked leg of antelope fried in 8-yr old vermont cheddar fat, topped with that cheese’s fried crisp.

What we did: It was a piece maybe the diameter of your wrist/forearm, and we smoked it well off direct heat, but the coals were quite hot so it still was a fairly hot smoke. The meat went a rich tan-burgundy in color, and retained an extremely tender texture [something notable about this antelope in general]. While it rested, we fried the cheddar in a cast-iron pan over some coals, collecting the solids as the fat ran about the pan [take it off when it starts to deep fry in its own fat kind of like how bacon does when it's near-ready], and set the fried cheese aside to crisp up [it crisps up when it cools, not in the pan]. The smoked meat then went into the hot cheese fat for a very-quick fry. Then the chip was cut up and went on top. Simple, rustic, damn tasty, and memorable. Great texture contrasts, great dairy funk, great richness added to a lean meat. Certainly worth a go again. The downside: it takes 7 years to get drawn again for an antelope tag up here – so it will be a few years yet before I can enjoy this again.

Dinner Party Menu

A breakdown of the menu for some new friends that came by for dinner last night. Excluding the first course – a salad from the garden…forgot the photo. The first three courses were paired with an alsatian riesling, the following 3 with a right-bank bordeaux. Overall, a lovely night:

berkshire tenderloin on white bean purée, crispy sage
pickled whitefish, dill & chervil
seared antelope, fleur de sel, baby italian parsley
korean kalbi-style antelope on rice
camembert on lovely bread our guests made
chocolate espresso swirl cheesecake with vanilla latté

Friday Wine Night Returns?


I’m resolved that my ‘Friday Night Wine Night‘ concept needs a comeback. So last night myself and a friend tackled an 04 E. Guigal Cotes Du Rhone – widely available in an inexpensive pricepoint. A guest had graciously brought it earlier in the week, and it needed to meet its fate rather than be cellared. It’s an 81 pointer that’s likable, but not quality. Disjointed, arromatically challenged, but actually decent with food.

It being Friday night, the charcoal was burnin’, and I decided to use some bread dough to make a herbed grill-bread, which turned out great. The dough was a bit soft, and I had a moment of near disaster, but recovered. I’d kind of given up on baking bread in the summer for lack of want of heating up my house more than I had to – but this will provide a solid solution for nights spent cooking outside.

Aside the bread on the grill was a chunk of berkshire shoulder marinated in sage, garlic, and olive oil, and some pieces of a leg of pronghorn roast I had out for tonight’s dinner that got a rosemary and mint treatment. This with some garden salad [oops no photo, and yes, I eat vegetables] made for a very enjoyable, laid back meal to wrap up the week.

How do you celebrate your Fridays?

A Blissful Evening of Food and Wine

Excuse: 2 day seminar, attended by myself and a good friend who enjoys food and wine. Result: 8 courses paired to 4 beverages, 1 hangover. This wasn’t my first time with a menu of this scope, or wines of this caliber – but something – perhaps the reprieve of boredom from sitting through sessions on our butts all day – made this evening connect. I tried hard with the pairings – but I always do. Maybe I just got lucky on this menu. Whatever the case, it was fantastic, and here’s what went down:

First wine to pair: 2006 Paul Zinck Riesling Grand Cru Pfersiberg. I’d tasted it at the winery in Alsace, and scored it a 92. Found it here, had to try it. Fortunately, my geek streak left me with tasting notes to help with pairing: lemon and rock predominated on a dry structure.

First course: salmon sashimi. I always opt for the belly, which is in the center of the plate, but I was intrigued by the fat in the loin section, which are the foreground bits. The loin surpassed the belly – not a typical result. Yen put me on to fleur de sel to cut the fat, and this version had a light dosing of lemon and good quality olive oil. The lemon notes in the wine and the fish danced.
Second course for the white: salmon noodle soup. Fresh pho noodle, chive blossoms, lemongrass poached salmon, and broth. Simple, and parts worked well with the wine. Carbs and hydration were important inclusions in the menu.

Smoked salmon gummies on smoked salmon mousse. Still with the white. The texture from the cure was unlike any I’d experienced. Akin to gummy bears. The smoking was done in a flash post-alarm-not-going-off-pre-seminar. 25 minute smoke, so it was light, but the whole worked with the wine.

Seared but basically raw pronghorn antelope tenderoin with rutabaga and carrot, and horseradish. This method with antelope loin, nevermind tenderloin, is sublime. This paired with a 2003 Schulz Marcus Shiraz Old Vine, the best shiraz either of us had ever had. And my guest collects good Aussie shiraz. Smoothe, supple, alluring, concentrated, with lucious seared red meat. Man. Parker scored it 97, we were 98+.
Second course for the shiraz. Aussie shiraz has frequently given me cooked ginger and meat – ginger beef, essentially, on the nose. I wanted to go bold in flavor and asian. This is wok charred yu choy, with seared game, two textures. Both were marinated along the vein of Korean kalbi. First was calf elk loin, second was calf moose heart. We were both blown away by the heart – super tender and tasty. Best heart we’d ever had, and the dish rocked with the wine.
The next course with the red was a roquefort noir…but….having had lots of wine by that point already, I forgot to snap a photo. This course was paired with a Pelliterri Vidal ice wine: homemade whole-wheat bread with strasbourg foie gras mousse and compotine de fruits secs. Simple, rustic, but man does this classic pairing work. Anything sauternes/icewine/lateharvesty and foie gras.
Last course. Kind of. We went back to the antelope course cause it was so good. But finally, last pairing was with Williams Pear Etter. I paired it with a caramel sauce with anjoy and bartlett pears atop a creme brulee powered by vanilla bean from papua new guinea. The pairing, again, worked.

The denouement of the evening was a few crappy hours of sleep followed by a hungover morning of seminar sessions. In this case, a small price to pay.

Tasting Menu of Pronghorn Antelope

Having agreed to butcher an antelope as a favor to my dad, I found myself with an entire animal worth of cuts in my freezer. I had very little experience with it. Yen had never tried it. So clearly – clearly, it was time to do a multi-course tasting menu of Pronghorn Antelope.

Seared & Super-Blue Proghorn Loin

I’ve been wanting to try something like this for a while with big game. Got a pan super-hot, and seared the seasoned meat quickly – as one might to tuna. The texture and flavor profile were exceptional. I seriously suggest trying this if you’re not averse to eating raw game. It’s delicious and delicate. The only downfall is that antelope proved to be so mild that the black peppercorns took over – so if you’re after tasting the animal, omit the pepper. If you just want ‘damn tasty’, I’d keep the pepper in.

Brochettes of Salt Berkshire Pork Loin and Pronghorn Shoulder

Seasoned, skewered, grilled on a griddle pan and finished in the oven. The ‘bacon’ style was extremely salty, which unfortunately dominated. Live and learn. In my opinion, neck requires a different cooking method [slow, low heat]. The big plus of this dish is that the neck/shoulder meat was far more flavored than the loin, and it tasted more like a grass fed beef than a big game animal.

Pronghorn Loin Farcie, with Sage Oil and Wild Shaggy Parasol Mushrooms, 2 ways.

The concept was to introduce sage – a common wild herb where these animals live. So we stuffed the loin with de-cased sausage meat mixed with some sage leaves soaked in olive oil. The oil from that sage infusion became wonderfully grassy, and we coated the outside of the loin in it prior to pan-roasting the whole thing.

One of the shaggy parasol mushroom cap quarters was pan roasted with the meat. The other was done on high heat with butter, covered. The pan-roasted one was far inferior as it dried out a touch, which did nothing for the flavor or texture. I highly recommend opting for a moist cooking environement for these mushrooms.

I’m a fan. Antelope is extremely delicate, and since I go to great lengths to obtain delicate game, this went from off my radar to the top of my favorite game meats overnight. I currently hold that the mild flavor profile is diet related, as they presumably graze more than eat bark and slough grasses like moose or deer. If you don’t like big game, pronghorn antelope may convert you.

The wines: 2005 Chateau Puygueraud [needs 3-5 years at least], and 2005 Leon Beyer Riesling les Ecaillers – Fantastic minerality and complexity [had it for dessert]

How to butcher an antelope.

How to butcher an antelope.

First, acquire an antelope. Mine arrived this morning at 06:30, wrapped up all nice.

Next, cut and trim as fast as you can before the temperature warms up and the wasps unleash their fury on you. This required that I start in the dark – a choice working environment when using knives. If the birds you attract look like they’re going to help you cut meat, thrown them a bone.

There, you’re done!