The Story Behind the Food
Every time I go out to the Badlands of North Dakota, I breath more deeply and can't stop myself from looking all around. This country is high and desolate, as if the prairie has been pushed from below the earth way up in the air. And as soon as I turn off of Interstate 94 and head south on ND Highway 85, I'm covered with an immense blanket of quiet.
The pronghorn antelope cover the landscape, red-brown and white, glowing when the sun hits them and lights them up. Unlike the whitetail deer and other animals that survive in the eastern part of North Dakota by hiding in the trees, cattails, or high grass, these antelope stand out in the wide-open plains, bold as you please, using the openness and long range visibility as a defense measure. If you can see them, they can see you. Hide in plain sight, that's the way out here. I think that's why I return every year. To hide from the busyness and stress of my life. And to harvest my favorite wild animal to eat. And here is one of my favorite ways to prepare it.
- 8 to 12 ounces pronghorn antelope steak
- ½ teaspoon each salt & paprika
- ½ Italian or French loaf of bread (about 8 oz), cut into 1-inch cubes
- 2 Tablespoons olive oil
- 2 Tablespoons avocado oil
- 1 Tablespoon butter
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 2 large ripe tomatoes, cut into 1-inch cubes
- 1 red bell pepper, seeded and cut into 1-inch cubes
- 1 cucumber, sliced
- 1 red onion, cut in half and thinly sliced
- 1 3.5 ounce jar of capers, drained
- 1 dozen fresh basil leaves
- ¼ olive oil
- 2 Tablespoons red wine vinegar
- ½ teaspoon Dijon mustard
- 1 teaspoon minced garlic
- ¼ teaspoon each salt & black pepper
1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
2. Tenderize steak with meat tenderizer, passing over three times on each side of the steak. Season the steak with paprika & salt and set it aside.
3. In a large bowl, toss bread with olive oil and 1 teaspoon of salt on a baking sheet and place in preheated oven for 8 minutes, tossing bread with tongs after 4 minutes.
4. Meanwhile, make the vinaigrette by whisking together all ingredients in a small bowl.
5. Remove bread from the oven and set aside.
6. Heat a large cast iron skillet over high heat until very hot. When the skillet is ready, add 2 Tablespoons avocado oil to the pan, then add the steak and sear evenly on both sides for about 2 minutes on each side.
7. Top steak with a tablespoon of butter and place the skillet in the preheated oven. Cook the steaks until they reach 125 degrees F internal temperature on an instant-read thermometer.
8. Remove the steaks to a serving platter, cover tightly with aluminum foil and allow to rest at room temperature for about 10 minutes while you finish the salad.
9. In a large bowl, combine tomatoes, red bell pepper, cucumber, red onion, capers, and fresh basil. Add bread and toss with vinaigrette.
10. Slice the cooked steak in 1-inch cubes.
11. Spoon the salad on a serving platter, and top with the steak. Serve immediately.