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Nilgai? What the Hell is That?

Nilgai Excitement

Adult male nilgai

These guys are very difficult to catch on film. This photo and my info came from http://www.nps.gov/paal/naturescience/animals.htm.

I received the text from Deerslayer shortly after 7:00 a.m.  He wanted to know if I wanted to get some snapshots of a Nilgai for my blog.  It was short and to the point but it spoke volumes.

The unwritten meaning behind the text was:  “Oh, my gosh!  I got a nilgai.  I’ve been stalking them for two years and I finally got one.  Whoop, whoop!  Let’s fill the freezers.  I think we should buy another one and dedicate it to the keeping of my nilgai, exclusively.  Perhaps a shrine should be erected!”

I hadn’t headed out to the hunting camp with Deerslayer on this particular weekend.  It’s only about an hour and a half from door to door.  Deerslayer headed out after work.  Over the past year and a half,  he’d decided that one of these creatures would fill the freezer nicely.  At 500 to 750 lbs. of lean, flavorful meat, I had to agree.Tim's Nilgui 1-18-14 016

These creatures have been around South Texas since the 1920’s, when the King Ranch imported them from India to keep as exotics and have available for hunters. They are members of the antelope family.  The males are sometimes called “blue bulls” because of their coloration.  Escaping through breaks in fences and roaming the area without natural predators, the nilgai population has continued to grow in the region.  While they are unique looking animals, (not much to look at if you ask me), they are really big and skittish.  Getting a glimpse of one is a rarity.

As I’m sure you know by now, I’d never processed or prepared the meat of a nilgai.  My first experience came on the night of the big celebration.  It’s gonna take some time for me to wrap my head around how large the muscles are on this beast.  I’m not complaining, mind you.  But when Deerslayer (nay, Nilgaislayer) said he was bringing the tenderloin into the camper for me to prepare, I wasn’t expecting this:

Tim's Nilgui 001

This is one tenderloin, at least 20 inches long and bigger around than my upper arm. (I’m not particularly robust, keep in mind.)

I liberally seasoned the meat with salt and pepper mix and  seared it in a cast iron skillet with a drizzle of olive oil.  There is practically no fat on the meat which means that it can either be prepared quite rare or cooked all day in the oven or on the stove.  After letting the meat rest for 15 minutes, I cut the seared tenderloin into bite-sized pieces and served it up as an appetizer to the nine hunters who had gathered around the fire.  It was hugely popular.  I’m gonna call it a success.

Over the next few weeks, I’ll be learning the nuances of nilgai vs. venison.  How will it cook up?  How’s the taste?  It’s gonna be fun.

Tim's Nilgui 1-18-14 008

Nilgai sport a jaunty beard and some interesting coloration. This one will be named “Smugly” and will hang in our library.

 

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Mexican Rice

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There are recipes that just call for a great side dish like never-fail Mexican rice.  As a matter of fact, the next couple of recipes that I’m planning to post will most definitely be served with this rice.  I’ve used this recipe all of my married life.  I got it from a good friend of the Deerslayer who is originally from Mexico.  I’ve continued to use the recipe because it tastes great and it’s easy enough to prepare with just a few simple ingredients.  Recently, I’ve been using parboiled rice.  I’ve been pleased with how it doesn’t clump up, ever!  The Junior Deerslayers still prefer the original long grain, however.  It’s just a matter of preference. The recipe will not be altered either way.

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The only “specialty” item that is required that may not be readily available worldwide is Knorr’s Caldo de Tomate Con Sabor de Pollo (Tomato Soup with flavor of Chicken).  It’s basically chicken bouillon granules with tomato flavoring.  It really adds a depth of flavor to the dish.  I should try to substitute plain chicken bouillon with a bit of instant tomato soup to see if it works.  But the Knorr’s is really good and I’d recommend getting some if you can get ahold of some. I think it would be available in the soup aisle, or the ethnic section of most grocers.

Ingredients

deer in velvet, chicken enchiladas, picadillo, sorghum 011

a splash of corn or canola oil

1/2 onion, chopped

1/2 poblano pepper, chopped (red bell pepper can be substituted)

1 cup rice (I used parboiled)

2 cups stock or water

2 tsp. Knorr’s Caldo de Tomate y Pollo

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In a cast iron skillet (with a lid) pour a splash of oil.  In hot skillet, saute chopped onion and pepper until soft.  Add rice and stir until rice is lightly browned.  Add water or stock and Knorr’s.  Stir one more time.  When liquid comes to a boil, reduce heat to medium low, Cover skillet and simmer for 20-25 minutes.

 
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Posted by on August 13, 2013 in Recipes, Side Dishes, Uncategorized

 

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