I never saw myself eating antelope, let alone antelope liver. I was a GenXer who went to a weirdo college once dubbed “the little red whorehouse on the Hudson,” where I shaved my head and flirted with vegetarianism before traveling cross country on missions of self-discovery that continue to this day.
But what would you do if a giant, smelly antelope liver landed in your lap?
My dad, who has become a hunter over the last few years thanks to my brother-in-law, and who always cooks up the giblets and other pieces-parts come turkey time, saw fit to grab the neglected antelope liver when John took a buck on a recent bow hunt in Wyoming—and then he brought it to my apartment.
When he pulled it out of the bag to cook up for special dinner night, the stench hit us immediately. Who knew it was going to be so smelly, and so big, for that matter? “Whoa, that’s strong,” Dad said, before sending Gregg to the store for buttermilk. We pushed dinner back two hours so he could soak a few slices, and the rest went into my freezer.
That night I sautéed porcini (Boletus edulis) and onions with garlic powder and salt, and mom set a couple of farm stand zucchinis, sliced vertically, on the grill. Antelope tenderloins went on the grill too, but Dad oiled, salted, peppered and then pan-fried the liver indoors—infusing my small apartment with a potpourri like no other.
He gave me a tiny bite. It was all I could do to chew it through and choke it down, all manner of torture upon my face. On Dad’s face I saw bemusement with a touch of concern. He disappeared outside and came back savoring a small piece of tenderloin. “Dinner is saved,” he announced—because the steaks were mild and delicious, whereas the liver was all but inedible.
So dinner was good, but later I thought: What to do with all that leftover liver? There was only one person to ask—the inimitable, sometimes roadkill harvesting, pieces-part eating Butterpoweredbike.
I emailed Butter and she wrote that I could cut the liver up into tiny pieces and take them over the course of the winter as pills for an iron boost. “Not kidding,” she concluded. Not gonna happen, I thought. But she also suggested her recipe for chicken liver pâté, which uses cream cheese and caramelized onions and might work for neutralizing the harsh flavor.
It worked like a charm!
I didn’t follow the recipe exactly—I don’t have a scale to start with the 1 pound of liver and my estimation skills are miserable in my estimation—so God knows how much liver I used. Also, I didn’t have any sage. But here are the various versions I later made, after my parents had left for home, using Butter’s idea:
- Basic Antelope Liver Pâté: I sauteed one small, chopped onion until caramelized and then blended it in the food processor along with 1 slice of pan-fried antelope liver until smooth. Then, I added ¾-1 cup cream cheese and blended it again, sprinkled with salt and pepper and ate it on crackers. Gregg said, and I agreed, that it was not only passable or good but delicious!
- Antelope Liver Pâté with Albatrellus confluens: I would have used truffles—since liver pâté often does—had I had the slightest idea how to find truffles. But since I didn’t, I used the pink-peach, cracked-top polypore Albatrellus confluens, which I chopped into tiny bits and sautéed until cooked. Then I prepared the basic pâté above and mixed them together for the second go-round. Also good! Fun bits of mushroom texture!
- Antelope Liver Pâté with Hard-boiled Eggs: While Mom was still here visiting she kept threatening to whip up an antelope pâté with hard-boiled egg bits intermingled after I read Butter’s recipe to her. I kept telling her not to worry about it, because we were so busy having fun and eating other things like Dad’s creamy wild mushroom soup. But what was I thinking? Anyway, in Mom’s honor, then, I hard-boiled an egg for roughly 15 minutes (because that’s how long Gregg said it takes at 10,000 feet, though I also recall him saying it takes 20). Then I chopped it into tiny bits and mixed it with the liver. Yum again! I figure once there are eggs in the pâté, it qualifies as breakfast.
- Liver Pâté Stuffball: I was going crazy, to be sure, but the last thing I did was to partially hollow out two puffball mushrooms (Lycoperdon spp.), each the size of a small egg. I brushed olive oil all over them, inside and out, and baked for like 10 minutes at 350 degrees (at 10,000 feet), then filled them with antelope liver pâté and baked for another 5-8 minutes until the puffballs were soft and starting to turn golden brown. These I served as part of a fancy dinner night where I made random appetizer-size dishes and served them to Gregg in multiple courses. He said they were “extremely rich,” which is probably why I liked them so much.
I phoned Dad after all this and told him that with the exception of the cooked liver pieces we unloaded on Butter, we had finished all the pieces he left in the fridge—and in fact relished them—in the form of pâté . He was incredulous. “You mean you actually made something you liked with them?”
Yup, sure did. I was ecstatic, to say the least, for few and far between are the occasions I get to impress my dad, who is a fabulous cook, in the kitchen—even if it is with other people’s recipes.
Here are some other antelope liver pâté recipes I found online: