Wildebeest is Afrikaans for “Wild Beast” an intimidating looking member of the antelope family, with a menacing box shaped face, shaggy hair, horns, broad shoulders, narrow hips, and their hide has a blue undertone. I have been fortunate to see the wildebeest migrations twice. First was in the Serengeti and again in Botswana when water arrived in the Boteti river in Makalakadi Game Reserve. A truly spectacular sighting.
While in Botswana we travelled the Old Hunters Road, est. circa 1871, a sandy track that skirts the Zimbabwe border from Nata to Kasane. After roughly 8 days of slow driving, we took a turnoff towards Pandamatenga, a large farming community. It seemed only appropriate that we would meet an avid hunter and conservationist by the name of Franz, an owner of a camp not far from the Old Hunters Road. Originally from Upper Austria, the same region as my husband, Franz had moved to Botswana over 30 years ago for the wildlife. We spent several days at his place and on our departure, he gifted us 2kg of wildebeest shank.
Wildebeest filets cooked properly will have a similar flavor and texture to venison, the shank really requires braising for an extensive amount of time to become tender as the meat on the bone is quite tough. It lends itself perfectly to a traditional Afrikaans potjie (pronounced poi key). Back to the bush, we had to get creative when it came to breaking down the sturdy bones as the whole shank would not fit into the pot. Once that was done, we made it into a hearty wildebeest stew- think gamey pot roast.
- Olive oil
- Wildebeest (alternatively beef, lamb or venison)
- Red Wine
- Water or beef broth
- Bay Leaf
- Salt and pepper
- Potjie pot/ Dutch oven
- Wooden spoon
- Rinse meat and pat dry and season with salt and pepper.
- Heat oil in pot and sear meat on all sides to brown for 3-4 minutes remove meat from pot and set aside on plate.
- Deglaze pot with a bit of red wine add onion, celery, garlic, chili, and tomatoes into pot and cook down until tomatoes are soft,
- Add wildebeest back to pot with water (or beef broth), salt, rosemary, and bay leaf and let cook over coals or medium low heat for several hours stirring every once in a while and adding water if it starts looking a bit low,
- The last 40 minutes when meat starts to get tender and fall off the bone add in parsley, potatoes, and carrots cooking long enough for them to get fork tender.
- The last 10 minutes add in peas.
- Season to taste and serve with crusty bread.
And they’ll feast, feast, feast, feast. They’ll eat their Who-Pudding and rare Who-Roast Beast.Dr. Seuss, How the Grinch Stole Christmas