May 12, 2021
By Jeff Benda
I had come to the Big Horn Mountains of Wyoming for a dream hunt. Being a hunter is not just a poetic escape from the realities of human life. Being a hunter is my reality.
When I blaze a new trail into a heavily wooded area like this, I can only see a few steps ahead. Yet my mind grasps every detail of my surroundings, and my heart makes full contact with all the goodness of God's creation.
I had left camp on this solo adventure at 4 a.m. and was now heading north, following Walker Creek. The sun was just beginning to rise above She-Bear Mountain, when I heard the loud and distinct low frequency bugle every hunter dreams about.
I crept through the lodgepole pines and peered out into the clearing. I caught a glimpse of his antlers, knelt down, took my pack off, and got my rifle ready.
As I stared through the scope at this beautiful mythical creature they call a "Jackalope," I took a deep breath to steady my nerves, and slowly squeezed the trigger.
Since most of you have a better chance of drawing an Arizona Strip Mule Deer tag than you do of harvesting a trophy Jackalope, I have adjusted the original recipe to reflect a more attainable main ingredient.
- 1 antelope backstrap
- 2 cottontail rabbit backstraps
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 8 ounces white or bella mushrooms
- Salt & pepper
- 2 teaspoons thyme leaves
- 2 tablespoons yellow onion, diced
- 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
- 6 thin slices deli ham or prosciutto
- ½ of a 17.3 oz. package Puff Pastry Sheet (1 sheet)
- 1 large egg, beaten
- Butterfly the antelope backstrap. Season both antelope & rabbit backstraps with salt and pepper or your favorite steak seasoning.
- Over medium high heat, add olive oil, and sear backstraps until well-browned on both sides, about 1 minute on each side. Transfer to a plate.
- In a food processor, pulse mushrooms, onions, and thyme until finely chopped.
- Add mushroom mix to clean hot pan and cook until liquid is evaporated, stirring often, for about 5 minutes. *There is no need for butter or oil here. You are trying to remove the liquid. Remove and let cool completely.
- Place piece of plastic wrap (about 15 inches long) down on a work surface. Lay out ham or prosciutto on the plastic wrap into a rectangular shape that will be big enough to cover the entire antelope backstrap. Spread the cooled mushroom mixture evenly over ham/prosciutto.
- Stuff both of the rabbit backstraps inside antelope backstrap. Then roll meat into ham-mushroom mixture, using plastic wrap to roll tightly. Twist ends of plastic wrap into a log and place in fridge to chill to help maintain its shape.
- Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. Lightly flour work surface, and roll out puff pastry into rectangular shape that is big enough to completely cover the backstrap. Remove backstrap from fridge, remove plastic wrap, and place on puff pastry. Brush all edges of pastry with egg mixture, then tightly roll backstrap into pastry.
- Once the backstrap log is completely enclosed in puff pastry, trim off any extra pastry, and brush generously with more egg mixture and sprinkle with salt.
- Place on baking sheet in oven for 15 minutes until pastry is golden brown and internal temp of meat is 125-130 degrees. (*Make sure oven is all the way up to 425 degrees before putting it in. Because of the time it takes to get pastry golden brown, and how small the antelope backstrap is, it can be difficult to achieve a perfect medium rare, so keep an eye on it). Remove from oven and let rest for 10 minutes before slicing. Enjoy!
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