Ostrich (WSJ)

A while back we posted a few recipes incorporating ostrich meat. Hopefully you were able to try this delicious, healthy alternative to red meat since then. If you have not had the opportunity, and ostrich is available in your region, go for it. In case you need some further persuasion, the Wall Street Journal ran an article on my local ostrich farmer, which I believe is of interest. Enjoy and Happy Eating!



Chili (with ostrich)

A while back we posted a piece about ostrich meat, and in case you are still hesitant to try it, here’s another recipe incorporating this delicious “red” poultry. Of course, if you don’t have ostrich meat readily available to you, beef would work just as well. Usually chili is a bit too heavy for me, and that is why I enjoy making it with ground ostrich, instead. The texture and taste remain, but there’s certainly a lighter quality about using ostrich. I am also not a huge fan of large quantities of beans in my chili, but that’s just me. If you prefer, you can certainly add more quantity, and variety, of beans to your chili. The heat, or spiciness, is also up to you. I suppose my favorite aspect of chili is that it is one of the few meals which tastes better as left-overs than the day I originally made it. And as a busy mother of two, that’s always a good thing!

2 Tbl. olive oil
1 md. onion, chopped
5 cloves garlic, peeled and left whole
1 jalapeño pepper, finely chopped (optional)
1 tsp. dried oregano
1 tsp. ground cumin
1 lb. ground ostrich, or ground beef
1/4 c. chili powder
2 bay leaves
1 1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. ground cinnamon (optional)
1 28-oz. can tomatoes in juice (I prefer fire roasted ground tomatoes)
3 c. chicken stock
1-2 c. water, you may want to add more or less while cooking

♦ 1-2 15-oz. kidney beans (black-eyed peas or lentil beans work nicely too)

chopped cilantro & Greek yogurt for garnish

Add oil to a large, heavy pot on medium heat. (If you are planning on using beef, add the meat first and begin to brown prior to adding the onion.) Add onions, garlic, and optionally, jalapeño; allow to cook until onions begin to soften. Add oregano and cumin. Stir in chili powder, salt, and cinnamon, if you choose. Add tomatoes, stock, bay leaves and water. (You need to add enough water to allow the chili to stew on the stove top without becoming too “concentrated.” If you check every 30 minutes, or so, you should be able to see whether or not more water is needed.)

Bring the chili to a low boil, then turn the heat down to the lowest possible setting. Allow the chili to slowly bubble (cook), uncovered, for 3 hours. If you don’t have this much time to cook your chili, it is possible to reduce the cooking time to about an hour, however, I will warn you that the flavors really don’t come together in that short amount of time. About 10 minutes prior to the end of cooking, add your ostrich meat. Ostrich cooks extremely quickly, and if you overcook it, the meat becomes too dry and chewy. Remove and discard bay leaves. Optionally you can remove the whole cloves of garlic, but thoroughly enjoy eating them in the chili.

Serve with chopped cilantro and a dollop of Greek yogurt. This dish also pairs nicely with some warm, crusty bread.

♦ If you are using pre-cooked beans, make sure to rinse and drain the beans before adding them to the chili. Alternatively, you could use dried beans. Just be sure to soak them in a few inches of water for 3-4 hours prior to cooking.

UFO Ostrich Pasta

A couple of months ago, I decided to finally stop at the ostrich meat stand at my local farmer’s market. I had passed by on numerous occasions, staring with amazement at the enormous off-white ostrich and speckled blue-green emu eggs adorning the stand’s table, thinking to myself that I would try the meat “next week.” So there I was, asking the ostrich farmer all about the ostrich. I learned a lot about ostrich meat that morning. In fact, I can’t recall all the interesting facts that gentleman explained to me about his animals, with heated passion. But, I did come away with the knowledge that ostrich meat is an anomaly, being the only “white” red meat. It looks like ground beef in color, but it cooks like poultry, which it is.

You don’t have to spend as much time cooking the meat as you would ground beef. For instance, if you’re making a pasta sauce with meat, you allow the base of the sauce to cook its normal amount of time,  adding the ostrich meat in at the very end, and allowing it to cook for about 8-10 minutes only. Ostrich meat is a lovely alternative for those people who, for whatever reason, have sworn off red meat. It even contains less fat and cholesterol than chicken, and honestly, it imitates the taste of beef pretty well. Now for the cool factor, at least in my house: “What are we having for dinner, mom?”….. “Ostrich?!?”…..”Cool!” My son loves to learn about the food he’s about to consume, and when it happens to be something he’s not too familiar with, it provides us an opportunity to explain more about a certain animal or vegetable, which can lead to interesting dinner table conversations, to say the least!

The title of this recipe is obviously geared more towards children, but the ostrich sauce works well on any shaped pasta, not just orecchiette (aka: UFO). Of course you could tweak the spices, herbs, vegetables, and meat in the sauce to your liking. Experiment away!

For the sauce:
1/2 onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
1 lg. carrot, peeled and chopped into small pieces
1 28 oz. can ground tomatoes
1 lb. ostrich meat
2 sprigs rosemary, leaves removed from stalk and finely chopped
2 bay leaves
small handful whole allspice berries (about 6)
1 whole cinnamon stick
salt and pepper to taste
1/3 olive oil, for sautéing
1/3-1/2 c. water
salt, pepper to taste

1/2 box Orecchiette “small ears” pasta

In a large sauté pan on medium-high heat, add the oil, onion, garlic, and carrot. Allow to cook until softened, about 5-6 minutes. Lightly salt and pepper the vegetables, stirring occasionally. Add the tomatoes, rosemary, bay leaves, cinnamon stick, and allspice berries. Add some water to thin the tomatoes out a bit. (But don’t drown the sauce!) Give it a good stirring, then lower the heat to the lowest setting possible; cover pan and allow to cook slowly for about 30-45 minutes. Once sauce has finished cooking, add the ostrich meat and cook for about 8-10 minutes. **If you are using another type of meat, such as beef, it should be added after the onion and garlic and cooked the entire time with the sauce.**

Meanwhile, bring a large stock pot, filled with water, to a rolling boil. Add 1 large spoon of coarse salt along with your pasta. Allow the pasta to cook according to package instructions. Drain and add 1-2 Tbl. butter to the cooked pasta; reserve. Remove the cinnamon stick, bay leaves, and allspice berries from the sauce. If you wish, add the pasta to the sauce pan, or, keep the pasta separated from the sauce. Serve with some freshly grated Parmesan cheese and finely chopped parsley. Now you and your crew are ready for take off……..