As most of my readers know, Deerslayer and I were blessed with a harvest of South Texas nilgai back in January. Other than elk, it provided more meat than anything I’ve ever encountered. With careful packaging (and three freezers) we were able to accommodate ALL of it. I’ve always felt very strongly about using as much of a harvested animal as possible which is why we grind our own meat, cut our own steaks, roasts, and scrap that can be cooked all day until it falls apart into deliciousness that can be used in countless recipes.
We’ve never bothered with venison rib meat, though. So little meat, so much work. With nilgai, however, it was a different matter. Clearly, there was enough meat between the ribs that I didn’t want to waste it. Fifteen pounds, to be exact. Deerslayer was happy to cut the meat from the ribs so that I could package it up into three 5-lb. packages. The amount of connective tissue surrounding the muscle prevented it from being used for anything other than “cook-all-day” applications.
There is a distinct difference between venison and nilgai meat and the processing thereof. Of course, quantity is the most obvious difference. But we were surprised by the difference in the amount of connective tissue. From skinning the critters to separating the muscle, nilgai is MUCH more difficult than venison because of the amount of fascia, silver skin, etc. It just seems to adhere more than venison. There was no pulling the skin from the muscle during field dressing. It required cutting with a very sharp knife every inch of the way. The preparation of backstrap has required more labor-intensive removal of fascia and silver skin, as well. Don’t get me wrong! The extra work involved has definitely been worth it! The meat is delicious and worth every minute of extra labor required in prep time.
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