It’s great to have friends who are hunters.
This time of year I always get excited about wild game recipes. So many of my friends have freezers full of venison and others are overloaded with gamefowl such as dove, quail, and duck. Then, if you’re my friend Jeff, you’re overloaded with all these animals and then some…
So when Jeff asked me if I would care to take a Nilgai tenderloin from his latest escapades – I jumped at the chance – not even having the slightest clue what a Nilgai was.
Naturally I went to the most trusted resource, Wikipedia, and learned that a Nilgai is an antelope native to northern India. They were introduced to the King Ranch in Texas in the 1920’s, and they’ve been on the hunter’s menu ever since. Upon further exploration I also learned that this is one delicious beast. The flavor is very similar to beef, and I was shocked to find that there was no gamey after taste at all in this meat. Just a lean tender cut that tasted like one of the best beef fillets I’ve ever had!
If you are not lucky enough to have a Nilgai hunter in your circle of friends, I found a few places online you can order the meat.
I’ve never worked with such exotic game before, so I decided to treat the Nilgai similar to an extra lean pork tenderloin. I seasoned the outside with a thick crust of herbs and roasted it in the oven. Then I sliced the loin and served atop mashed potatoes. To keep with the wild hunters theme, I topped our tenderloin medallions with a mushroom gravy using the best exotic shrooms in Dallas – Mr. Tom Spicer’s.
Nilgai Tenderloin with Wild Mushroom Gravy
1 3lb Nilgai Tenderloin
4-5 cloves garlic, minced
3 tbs fresh oregano
3 tbs fresh thyme
1 tbs fresh rosemary
1/2 lb (dime bag) mixed Mushrooms
2 tbs Butter
3 tbs flour
1 cup beef stock
1/2 cup dry white wine
Like every good cut of meat you want to give it a good pat dry with a clean paper towel before you season it. Then admire the beautiful deep purple-red color of the nilgai meat, I’ve never seen anything like it.
Next, mince your garlic cloves and fresh herbs together with a tsp of salt and a pinch of pepper if you like. Then rub the garlic herb mixture all over the tenderloin, coating every bit.
Place the loin on on a rack in a roasting pan and set in the oven- pre heated to 375 degrees for 45 minutes. Depending on how thick your loin is, you’ll want to check it after 30 minutes with a meat thermometer to achieve the rare to well-done temperature you’d like. I roasted mine for 45 minutes and it was a perfect medium-well done. Martha has a good resource here for recommended internal meat temperatures.
While your tenderloin is roasting, you can prepare your gravy. Slice and dice all of your mushrooms to the desired bite size.
Place 3 tablespoons butter in a large saute pan over medium heat; add chopped and sliced mushrooms, and cook until mushrooms are soft and browned, and all liquid has evaporated. Add white wine and cook, stirring to loosen any browned bits on the bottom of the pan for about 1 minute. Transfer to a bowl to remove from heat, and set aside.
In the same skillet place another tablespoon of butter and flour and lightly brown to make your roux. Cook until browned and fully combined, 2 to 3 minutes. Slowly whisk in the beef stock; bring to a boil, whisking until thickened. Add the reserved mushroom mixture and stir to combine.
Bring mixture to a boil, stirring, and simmer 2 minutes. Stir in salt and pepper to taste.
Spoon gravy over sliced tenderloin and serve.