Note: This recipe is not exclusive to antelope and can be applied to any other ungulate.
Antelope meat often gets bad reviews from folks whose palettes have been trained by McDonalds, school lunch programs, and cheap steak houses to think that meat’s supposed to be flavorless and soft. But for anyone who wants to experience a thoroughly flavored and uniquely textured piece of wild meat—that is, meat that tastes and feels like the land it lived on—I’d suggest that you forget whatever you heard about antelope and give it a serious try. Because antelope hunting is often done in remote, rugged regions, it’s common to camp out for them. So one of my favorite ways to prepare antelope is to fry it over the fire at night in a quick and simple way.The loin is a great piece of meat for this because it’s easily extracted from the animal and it’s tender enough to be edible when freshly killed. Slice the loin against the grain in cutlets that are about one inch thick. Season the cutlets with whatever you’ve got. Salt and pepper are fine, as are most of the commercially produced spice rubs. (If you’re the type who plans ahead, it’s a good idea to have a little olive oil, lemon juice, garlic, thyme and salt to make a marinade. I use three parts oil to one part lemon, then mix in crushed garlic and thyme and a sprinkling of salt; give the cutlets a bath in that for a couple hours and you’ll be smiling.) When you’re ready to cook, heat enough oil to thoroughly cover the bottom of a pan set on a bed of coals. (Cast iron is great, but I’ve used everything including aluminum, stainless steel, and titanium campware). When the oil starts smoking, lay the cutlets in the pan. In a perfect world you wouldn’t crowd them too tightly, as overcrowding prevents the meat from searing properly. But this is camp cooking, after all, and you’re probably hungry and short on time. So if the point is to make a lot of dinner in a hurry, just give the cutlets enough room that they’re not directly touching. Let them cook about five minutes on each side, leaving the centers of the cutlets blood red. While eating, keep in the mind that the antelope, or American pronghorn, is the fastest native land mammal in North America. For whatever reason, that makes the meat taste even better.