January 28, 2007

Filed under: Uncategorized — ros @ 6:19 pm

I think that, when I make a journey to Borough Market,  I should avoid asking Goon what he’d like. This is because he always says the same thing: bloody ostrich fillet. :roll:

Yes, I do like ostrich fillet. It is gorgeous stuff but, since it is so expensive (about £10 to feed the two of us) I feel the need to do something really exciting with it whenever we have it. To begin with this wasn’t a problem, but now we’ve had ostrich lots of times and I’m running low on inspiration.

The internet is useless for finding recipes for this particular meat. Let’s face it, there are a lot of terrible ostrich recipes out there. For some reason half the world seems to have gone ‘Hey- there’s some new low fat, low cholesterol red meat available. Let’s take every beef recipe we can find and substitute.”

I think this is a shame. It is a waste of the great flavour of ostrich. After all, we don’t generally use beef as a lamb substitute or vice versa, so why is ostrich used as a beef substitute? Since lamb and beef have fundamentally different flavours, I would neither sub beef into a classic lamb dish, ike roast lamb wiht mint sauce,  nor top lamb with a port and stilton sauce. The same goes for ostrich.

For some reason, not many people feel the same way, which is a shame because ostrich has a beautiful distinctive flavour. True, it bears a passing resemblance to beef (especially when overcooked) but the flavour is lighter with a sort of gamey ‘kick’ to it. I think it is rather like a cross between duck and beef but a little sweeter than either.

It was the beef  and duck flavours I had in mind when I made this dish. I knew that duck is frequently served with wild mushrooms (an idea which quite appeals to me) and I’ve had beef fillet in brandy-cream sauce many times already. A combination of the two sounded like just what I needed for the ostrich. 

Now I know I’ve mentioned that ostrich is a very dark meat. I think it’s about time I qualified that statement.

 raw ostrich fillet

 See? Very, very dark! And not all that appealing in that state.

To turn it from that slug-like object into something very tasty, only two minutes of pan-frying per side (on the highest hob setting) are needed followed by about 5 minutes of resting in a warm place wrapped in kitchen foil. This really is a meat which is best eaten rare.

I made the sauce for the ostrich by gently frying half a finely diced onion with a minced garlic clove until soft then stirring in about 40g dried wild mushrooms that had been soaked in boiling water for about 10 minutes. Then I added about 100ml double cream, a little soaking liquid from the mushrooms and about 50 mls beef stock.

I let this reduce until we had a nice thick sauce then added a big slug of brandy which I had flambéed in the pan I used to cook the ostrich. I served the steak topped with the mushroom sauce alongside some wild rice and sauteed green beans.

ostrich with wild mushrooms, cream and brandy

This dish suprised me so much! I thought I’d seen the best of ostrich, but I was wrong. The flavours here were great. They complemented the ostrich’s beefy flavour without overwhelming the sweet gaminess.  I was very happy indeed and can thoroughly recommend this combination.

One thing to note is that is important to use a reasonable brandy for this - nothing too expensive but definitely not ‘cooking brandy.’ It is the only way I’ve been able to get brandy sauce to work, cheap brandies seem to make the sauce lose its flavour pretty quickly.

If you fancy branching out and trying ostrich, I thoroughly recommend Gamston Wood at Borough Market as a fantastic supplier. They might even have some more liver in next week \o/

8 Comments »

  1. mmm! this looks awesome ros! and right up my alley! game meat, heavy cream… liquor! i wish i could get my hands on some ostrich more easily around here :-( as it is i just have to salivate over all the game you whip up!

    Comment by amanda — January 28, 2007 @ 6:36 pm

  2. I cooked ostrich steaks and ostrich burgers from Borough Market before Christmas and both meals went down really well. I’ll be paying a return visit soon to buy some more ostrich meat from the Gamston Wood Farm stall, so maybe we will meet up there. Don’t be scared to use a strong complementary flavour with ostrich - you won’t drown it, just enhance it.

    Comment by Trig — January 28, 2007 @ 8:38 pm

  3. I don’t think I am adventurous enough - I seem to struggle with the thoughts of eating ostrich. I like venison but then I struggle with thinking about poor old Rudolph! The same goes with eating Bunnykins - oh dear!! Anyway, the ostrich does look very good I have to say.

    Comment by Margaret — January 29, 2007 @ 2:47 pm

  4. Amanda, I think this ostrich technically isn’t game because is was raised here.

    http://www.ruralbiz.net/case2.php?ID=7

    It still tastes very gamey though, probably because the birds get to run around a lot and I think they make an effort to give them a ‘natural diet.’ I’mnot sure if there’s any difference between proper wild ostrich meat and these ostriches.

    Trig, I’m going to try being more adventurous when cooking ostrich. But I do get scared about ruining it just bcause its so expensive. I already found out that sage and onion doesn’t suit it all that well.

    Margaret, surely you can’t feel sorry for the ostriches- they’re ugly brutes and quite vicious from what I hear!

    Comment by ros — January 29, 2007 @ 3:17 pm

  5. Ostrich are brutes! I’ve been pecked by one! I still think they’re cute though. But, that’s not to say I wouldn’t feast upon one either!
    I love how you make such unusual dishes! The Ostrich steak looks like something we must try!

    Comment by Freya Erickson — January 29, 2007 @ 9:14 pm

  6. If you are having trouble finding recipes on the web, try searching in the food blogs using a tailored search engine from Google Co-op. If you want the code for this, email me and I’ll send it to you (it takes too long to publish as you have to change all the tag brackets to ascii codes!). Test the one on my blog to see if it’s any use to use. It was produced by Elise of Simply Recipes.

    Comment by Trig — January 29, 2007 @ 11:29 pm

  7. Mmmm, ostrich! I find ostrich delicious but quite rich. Every time I have an ostrich steak back home in South Africa I feel that I don’t need to eat again for a few days! Your recipe sounds rather heavenly - I’ll have a trawl through my South African recipe books and see if I can come up with more inspiration for you. I’ve also had the ostrich burgers from Gamston Wood - delicious!

    As for “real wild ostriches” - there aren’t exactly loads of these in South Africa either. Because the birds are so valuable (skin, feathers and meat all fetch good prices) there is a huge ostrich farming industry, traditionally centred on Oudtshoorn. YOu do get wild ostriches in some of the game parks but nobody that goes game hunting hunts ostriches these days. But still, I agree that the meat is “gamey” and sweet. As for all those who feel sorry for ostriches, hey, people eat lamb and let me assure you that lambs are a LOT cuter and more defenceless! Ostriches are big and potentially scary birds that have the alarming (but generally harmless) habut of pecking at anything shiny on your person when you approach them - sunglasses, jewellery, buttons, you name it. Quite disconcerting! The danger comes when an ostrich feels threatened as they can easily outrun you and their kick is powerful enough to kill a man. And remember, his brain is the size of a small satsuma so there’s no reasoning with him ;-)

    Seriously though, do bear in mind that Britain is NOT an ostrich’s natural habitat and the climate does not agree with them. They have no preen gland and their feathers are not waterproof (why would they need to be in their native semi-desert?) and if it rains their feathers become sodden leading to disease or possibly death. And because of the fairly large investment needed to start farming with ostriches, there are indications that factory farming techniques to maximise growth and profits are creeping into the industry.

    Comment by Jeanne — January 30, 2007 @ 12:14 pm

  8. That looks really good.

    Comment by Vanessa — January 31, 2007 @ 4:40 am

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