pronhorn antelope

Prime Prairie Primals

My favorite game 

Pronghorn, more than most animals, have a terrible reputation of being poor table fare. For the life of me I can only accept two reasons for someone to draw this conclusion. Either you simply do not enjoy the taste of prime, clean, organic meat from a healthy animal, or more likely have only eaten antelope that was tainted by poor field care. Unlike most big game seasons, Pronghorn seasons take place in late summer and hot temps coupled with inexperience or laziness can lead to meat spoilage or less than perfect flavor in the end. For a family that has eaten more wild game from a wide variety of animals than the average household it is a unanimous favorite. If whitetail and elk are the beef of the forest then pronghorn are the veal of the prairie.

For years I have processed and butchered my own game. Besides helping the bank account, it has taught me how to utilize each cut to its full potential. The sirloin, or sirloin tip has been a cut that for years we have used in pot roast style dishes. I love a good pot roast as much as the next guy, and it's one of my wife's all time favorites. However, despite the sirloin on a deer or antelope having a handful of strands of sinew and connective tissue throughout the muscle group, it is quite the beautiful cut when sliced into steaks. I knew we were cooking away something special by throwing the football sized roast into a pot or slow cooker for hours and wanted to try something new. Searing or grilling steaks cut from a venison sirloin would be difficult due to this sinew. Tendons and connective tissue tend to contract under high temperature and would turn a perfectly sliced steak into a curled up lump of unevenly cooked  meat. I had been craving a perfectly medium rare roast beef or prime rib style dish but wanted to create this with venison. 

There are very few boneless cuts from a deer or antelope sized animal thick and large enough to roast for any period of time and not dry out. The sirloin from the hindquarter of a medium to large antelope or whitetail is 3 to 6 pounds and about 8-12" long and similar to a football or rugby ball in shape making it round and uniform enough to cook evenly throughout when roasted in an oven. Thanks to the patience and help of my wife, using her precious pot roast meat for science, and a few trials  experimenting with times and temperatures to get this roast dialed in, we stumbled upon my new favorite game dish. This roast is absolutely gorgeous on the plate and in this case showcases the delicate texture and flavor of pronghorn perfectly. I served this particular roast with chimichurri and  skillet blistered vegetables from our garden. It would pair equally well with horseradish or au jus. 

pronghorn roast chimichurri

Ingredients

  1. 3-5 pound pronghorn sirloin roast
  2. 5-10 fresh garlic cloves, halved lengthwise
  3. freshly ground coarse black pepper
  4. coarse kosher salt
  5. olive oil

pronghorn antelope roast garlic

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
  2. with a small non serrated knife make 5-10 incisions in the roast about 1/2' deep and insert garlic.
  3. rub roast with olive oil to coat
  4. salt roast evenly to taste
  5. liberally rub coarse black pepper over entire roast
  6. Place roast (largest muscle/fat cap side if present up) on a rack of a roasting pan. cover bottom of roasting pan with broth or water. Do not pour over the roast or so much that the roast sits in liquid.
  7. Place in preheated oven for 45 minutes or until internal temperature at thickest point is 125 degrees. DO NOT OPEN OVEN DURING THIS STEP!!
  8. Reduce oven temperature to 250 degrees and continue roasting until internal temperature is 135 degrees. 
  9. Remove from oven at 135 degrees and tent roast with foil. Allow roast to rest 8-10 minutes and internal temperature should rise to a perfect 140-145 degrees.
  10. slice thinly against grain and serve with chimichurri, horseradish, or au jus. 

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