I'm thinking this is something a bit different. Doesn't really look like much......
We were checking out the "frozen protein zoo" in the back of Seisel's and the Missus had the great idea of cooking up something a bit different....after all, it's getting tougher to come up with stuff for the blog. I've almost exhausted all the basic stuff I've made for years. Actually, I wanted to get the ground kangaroo meat and make burgers....I'd call them "hoppers"....the Missus wasn't amused and immediately said that burgers weren't allowed. So I bought about a pound and quarter of frozen ground antelope, with no idea of what to make.
While discussing potential dishes, shepherds pie came up....well why not? But the Missus came up with the caveat....it couldn't be just any shepherds pie, oh no. So I came up with topping the thing with polenta. In doing a bit of research, I found that antelope was pretty lean....which means dry to me. The Missus didn't want beef stock and I really didn't feel like simmering a bunch of bones on a Saturday. I often use my roasted mushrooms as a base for various dishes and the Missus had bought one of those gigantic bags of oyster mushroom from Zion market. Heck, I had to roast these for Her anyway, right?
So on Saturday evening, I roasted up those mushrooms. On Sunday, I made a double recipe of polenta, 2 cups corn grits to six cups water which I seasoned well. Since butter is persona non grata in our household, I used a good amount of roasted garlic olive oil as a fat. When the polenta was done, I separated off the estimated excess amount, which I formed in an oiled square container. The Missus is having fried polenta cakes with these. The rest I tasted, up the seasoning and fat and mixed in about a cup of thinly sliced scallions, mostly for color. I retrospect, I probably could have added some roasted red peppers or even diced sun dried tomatoes.
As for the base of the Shepherd's Pie, here it is....just a listing. Antelope meat is very lean and very mild with a distinct, almost flat finish. It's easy to come up with a tasteless dish, but this came out pretty well.
1 1/4 lb ground antelope
bacon fat - olive oil - grapeseed oil
1 medium onion diced
4 cloves garlic minced
4-5 cups of roasted wild mushrooms
3 cups (or more) mushroom roasting liquid
2 tb dried Turkish oregano
1 tb dried thyme
2 Bay leaves crushed
1 cup red wine
3 tb sherry vinegar
3 tb Worcestershire Sauce
more salt than you think you'll need
fresh ground black pepper
Luckily the roasted mushroom brought a lot to the dish, not only in mushroom flavor, but there's a good amount of garlic and onions as well. If I do this again, I'll not only use the bacon fat, but lardons of a couple of slices of bacon to start as well. I cooked the mess down until it hit the right consistency, but it into a baking pan...topped with the polenta, which wasn't as easy as it seems and baked at 400 for 20 minutes.
It was actually pretty good. Not much in terms of "exotic" flavors, very lean and chewy. Loved the polenta topping. The top was on the crunchy side, while the part laying on top of the ragout was moist and creamy.
Oh, and this is what the bacon was used for.
The Missus actually made this. After all these years, the Missus is starting to find the joy of cooking! I can't help but laugh when I see Her crushing herbs in Her palm to extrude the oils, all the stuff She used to hassle me about! Now it's sharp knives, the immersion blender, and the Dutch oven, go figure.....