Preparing Nilgai Antelope Pinwheel Steaks
Trough the thick glass case of most Italian butcher shops in the Bronx lives an unmis- takable steak that makes an appearance on thousands of grills each summer.
As a kid growing up there, I fondly recall seeing stacks of these delicious creations piled up at the shops, tempting everyone that passed by. I recall that once you opened the market door, the vivid fragrance of fresh garlic, cheese and herbs hit you almost immediately. And, it would be a total miracle if you actually left the shop without buying a few of these steaks for the week ahead. Generally speaking, a pinwheel steak is a piece of beef flank steak that is pounded thin, stuffed with a blend of cheese, spinach and parsley, then rolled and tied. They’re a perfect meal for the summertime, and they are really simple to prepare.
I often find that when butchering an animal during hunting season, certain cuts, such as the sirloin, need more ways for preparation. They’re great grilled on their own, but when butterflied and stuffed, they take on a whole new life. This recipe is absolutely transferable across elk, Whitetail or whatever other sirloin you might have in the deep freeze.
For this recipe, I’m using a piece of Nilgai antelope, which is a tremendous animal found in the deep southern tip of Texas. Mild in flavor and extremely tender, the antelope makes a perfect ingredient for this recipe.
What I like most about using the sirloin for this recipe is that it butterflies really easily. You could absolutely butterfly another roast, but I’ve found that the sirloin just seems to be a great cut for this.
Square It Up
To begin, it’s important to “square up” the sirloin with a filet knife. Essentially, the more that you can shape this cut of meat into a rectangle, the more pinwheels you’ll be able to cut once it is rolled and tied.
Once trimmed, butterfly the sirloin open.
Next, place the butterflied sirloin in between a large piece of plastic wrap. This plastic wrap will help not only when you’re pounding the meat with a meat mallet or rolling pin, but it will also come in handy when rolling it later on.
Because wild game is lean in general, I tend to pound the sirloin out to about one-half inch thick throughout. Leaving it a little on the thicker side will still allow for a medium-rare internal temperature during the cook.
Working the Assembly
A key part to the assembly process for pinwheel steaks is leaving the meat on top of a layer of plastic wrap. So, don’t throw it away!
At this point, evenly distribute the chopped parsley, garlic, parmesan and lemon zest and season it with salt and pepper. (Tip: season lightly with salt, as the parmesan cheese is quite salty on its own.)
Once these ingredients are layered on, add the spinach and provolone cheese. When adding the cheese, I like to overlap each piece just a bit so that there ends up being a solid layer of cheese inside the pinwheel.
When you’re ready to assemble the pinwheel, begin with the side closest to you and roll away. Use the plastic wrap to help achieve a tight roll as you progress and the steak gets larger. Once the pinwheel is rolled into one, take individual pieces of butcher’s twine and tie the steak in about three to four different places, evenly spaced along the steak.
From here, take a knife and carefully slice between each of the strings, giving you multiple pinwheel steaks. If you find that some steaks are in danger of falling apart, run a wooden skewer through the roll to hold it together on the grill.
I prefer to use a wood-burning grill to add a great smoked flavor to these steaks. Depending on your desired temperature, these steaks will only take about five to seven minutes to cook on each side, flipping once.
(Note: 3 pounds of sirloin yields about 6 to 8 pinwheel steaks)
- 3 pounds of venison sirloin, butterflied and pounded to ½-inch thick
- 3 large cloves of fresh garlic, finely chopped
- 1 bunch of flat-leaf parsley, rinsed and rough chopped
- 3 cups of fresh spinach
- Zest of one lemon
- 3/4 cup of grated Parmesan cheese
- 12 slices of Provolone cheese
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Butchers twine
- Plastic wrap
- Meat mallet or rolling pin