Hunting—or having a hunter in your family or social circle— offers a tremendous opportunity for both hunters and non-hunters to expand your palate.
I recently had the good fortune to receive one pound of ground oryx meat from a friend. I’ve cooked both elk and venison before, using ground venison for meatballs in marinara sauce and cubes of elk in stews.
Oryx is a new meat in my kitchen. Unsure of exactly how to use it, I asked seasoned hunters and chefs in our state for some tips and suggestions.
Katie DeLorenzo, southwest chapter coordinator for Backcountry Hunters and Anglers, said her organization holds wild game tastings in New Mexico. She’s tried a variety of game animals from New Mexico including ibex and bighorn sheep.
She describes oryx meat as super lean but a little tough—especially if the meat is from an older bull— with a mild flavor profile.
“Oryx pretty much works with everything,” she said. “In my personal opinion, the connective tissue seems to be more firm and aggressive than on an elk, so trimming is super important. Some oryx may need a little more tenderizing and aging. Oryx steaks are fantastic, but make sure you’re cutting against the grain. It has a great flavor but can be tough.”
She put me in touch with chef Dave Sellers with the Albuquerque-based Street Food Institute, a nonprofit that assists aspiring food service businessmen and women, who has experience with preparing a variety of wild game.
“Any recipe that you do with ground venison or elk would work with oryx too,” said Sellers, explaining that oryx is similar as far as fat content to elk and venison. “It’s leaner than beef but pretty mild as far as the flavor.”
He has his own way of handling lean game meat such as oryx. Sellers likes to add a mushroom mixture, similar to how we add eggs to meatloaf to create more moisture. “With oryx, it’s the same thing I do with other game meats,” he continued. “You want to be careful not to overcook it. [I suggest] medium at the most or medium rare. It has a really high blood content and is very red just like venison or elk. There’s a high iron content so if you cook it too much that’s that ‘gamey-ness’ that comes out.”
Sellers prepared the following recipe for oryx sliders at last fall’s Backcountry Hunters and Anglers wild game tasting event.
Oryx and mushroom sliders with green chile and cheddar
1 pound ground oryx
8 oz white button mushrooms, sliced
1 yellow onion, minced
3 cloves garlic, minced
½ cup white wine
3 springs fresh thyme, leaves only
¼ cup unsalted butter
8 oz cheddar cheese, sliced
8 oz green chile
8 King’s Hawaiian buns
8 oz cilantro mayo
Salt and pepper to taste
Sauté the yellow onion in the butter until translucent. Add the garlic and sauté for one minute more. Add the sliced mushrooms and thyme, cook until caramelized. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Deglaze with white wine and continue to cook until wine is absorbed. Check seasoning.
Puree the mixture in a food processor and allow to cool. Gently combine the mixture with the oryx, being careful not to overwork and evenly distribute. Divide the mixture into eight equal parts and form into patties. Season the sliders with salt and pepper and sauté over high heat, browning on both sides.
Add chile and cheese and cover until the cheese is melted. Put a little of the cilantro mayo on each side of the bun, add the meat and enjoy. Serves eight.
Photo and recipe courtesy of Dave Sellers.