Butcher's Block: Exotic Game


For the last four years, Mississippians have come to recognize their good fortune by having access to prime Wagyu steaks and locally-sourced chicken, pork and lamb via The Flora Butcher. The priority of owner Chef David Raines has been to offer his loyal customers the finest in specialty meats. 

With the new year, Chef Raines expands his “Specialty Meats” philosophy to include more wild game. The shop already offers geese, alligator, quail and rabbit. Now, the meat counter includes Elk burgers. Beginning this month you can also purchase Nilgai Burgers and chops. Both Elk and Nilgai burgers are enhanced by mixing in Wagyu fat.

For those unfamiliar with the Nilgai, they are largest Asian antelope weighing up to 700 pounds. Originally found in Northern India, they have been hunted for some 8,000 years. The Nilgai were first introduced to the United States in the 1930s via the King Ranch in Texas. The initial herds quickly spread and the species can now be found throughout the Lone Star State. 

In addition to offering a wide variety specialty meats and game, The Flora Butcher has also been the destination for discerning hunters who have come to recognize The Flora Butcher as one of the best in game processing thanks to their recipe of mixing Wagyu fat in their ground and sausages. Venison is not sold in the shop…yet. Future products will include bison and pheasant.

In this issue we offer a variety of dishes, including a blackened Nilgai Chop; an Elk Juicy Lucy Burger and Corned Nilgai. The recipes are easy and designed to please.

Corned Nilgai


5 Pounds Nilgai Rounds

1 Gallons Water

2 Cups Kosher Salt 

1/2 Cup Sugar

1 Ounce pink Salt #2

2 Heads of Garlic, Split

2 Tablespoons Pickling Spice in the Brine

1 Tablespoons Pickling Spice when Cooking 


Mix all of the ingredients except the Nilgai with warm water and whisk until the salt dissolves. 

Chill the brine in the refrigerator. Once cold Place Nilgai in brine

Let brine for 6 days

Remove the Nilgai from the brine, rinse the meat and then pat dry.

Place the Nilgai in a large pot and cover with water by at least a couple of inches. Divide remaining pickling spice and simmer for 2 ½ to 3 hours or until meat is tender. 

Remove from water and allow to cool.

As many of you know, the Reuben is a classic grilled sandwich combining rye bread, corned beef, sauerkraut, Russian dressing and Swiss cheese.  The most popular story of it’s origin is that it was first made in Omaha, Nebraska where they still have a “Rueben Day” in March every year.  It was in Nebraska that I first started seeing corned “beef’ made with wild game.  Bison was the most popular but any large game will work.  When we saw the sheer size of Nilgai, we saw it as an opportunity to experiment and what better way than our twist on the classic Reuben. We made this one with our corned Nilgai and, as always, we substitute the Russian dressing for Jackson’s own Crechale’s comeback dressing.

Blackened Nilgai Chop with Brussel Sprout Hash and Mashed Sweet Potatoes

Blackened Nilgai Chop

1 Nilgai Chop

1 Tablespoon of Olive Oil

2 Tablespoons Blackening Seasoning

Over medium heat, heat up a cast iron skillet. Coat the chop in oil and then sprinkle liberally with the seasoning.  Sear both sides of the chop and then move it to a foil lined cookie sheet. This is so that you can finish the chop in the oven when it’s almost time for dinner. It will take around 10 minutes depending on how you like your meat.

Brussel Sprout Hash

8 Brussel Sprouts, shredded

¼ Pound of Beef Bacon, cut into small rectangles

½ Yellow Onion, thinly sliced

1 Teaspoon of Minced Garlic

A Pinch of Red Chili Flake

2- 3 Ounces Chicken Stock

Salt and Pepper to taste

On another foil lined cookie sheet, render the beef bacon at 350 degrees until slightly crisp. Pour some of the rendered fat into a nonstick skillet and gently sauté the onion until translucent. Add the garlic and continue to sauté until fragrant. Add the bacon and the remaining ingredients and sauté on medium high heat until the sprouts are slightly wilted and some of the liquid has evaporated.

Mashed Sweet Potatoes

1 Large Sweet Potato, peeled and cubed

2 Tablespoons Unsalted Butter

1 Ounce Sorghum Molasses

Whole Milk as needed

Salt to taste

Simmer the potato in salted water for 20 minutes or until tender. Drain and move to a food processor and gradually add in the remaining ingredients while it runs.  You only want to add enough milk to loosen the mixture so that you get a smooth finished product.

After we plate our Nilgai, we like to reinforce the sweet and spicy favor profile by drizzling the entire dish with Bissell’s Ghost Pepper Maple Syrup

Elk Juicy Lucy with Thyme Roasted Potatoes

8 Ounces of Elk ground with Wagyu Fat.

2 Slices Cheddar Cheese

1 Tablespoon Hot Pepper Bacon Jam by Terrapin Ridge Farms

Salt and Pepper to taste

Take your Elk and divide it into a 5 ounce patty and a 3 ounce patty. On the larger patty, place 1 slice of cheese and fold in the corners if it hangs over at all.  Add the Bacon Jam to the center and place the smaller patty on top.  Crimp the edges of the two patties together to seal your burger. Season the outside with salt and pepper and then cook as you would a normal burger, adding the second slice of cheese as it gets close to cooking through.

Dress it anyway you like your burger.  The combination goes well with all of the usual burger fixings.

Thyme Roasted Potatoes

3 Yukon Gold Potatoes, quartered longways

2 Ounces olive oil

2 Tablespoons Thyme

Salt and Pepper to taste

I really like this simple side if I don’t want to eat fried potatoes with my burger.  Combine all of the ingredients in a bowl.  Mix well and then spread the contents out of a cookie sheet and roast in a 350 degree oven until they are soft and starting to brown. Adjust the seasoning and enjoy.