bury your head....in some ostrich!

Alright, so I know it's not everyday that people find ostrich...or every day that they eat it.  Unless of course your down under, or maybe in Africa? But clearly, I am not.  Fortunately, we have a friendly guy from Roaming Acres that posts up at the Union Square market quite often that has some pretty solid ostrich offerings! I've never actually cooked ostrich, but figured...what better to get my creative juices flowing? This definitely did.  Fresh, fantastic, beautiful ostrich filet.  What to do? It's a super lean meat, yet still manages to have some great flavor.  A bit of gaminess, but not overwhelmingly so.  Time to play around! That being said, I had to rock out two different preparations of said ostrich. 

In addition, I picked up some other (not so often found) shrubbery.  Claytonia (miner's lettuce), KALE FLOWERS (!), stonecrop, and arugula flowers.  What is all this nonsense you ask? Deliciousness nonsense, that's what.  Claytonia may be my new favorite thing - the leaves look like lily pads, also similar to nasturtium leaves, and makes for beautiful presentation.  It has a flavor that is somewhere between spinach and arugula.  Stonecrop is essentially a succulent, so it has a nice crunch, and a bright green flavor to it.  Arugula flowers? Just beautiful.  And a subtle pepperiness as well! 

Ostrich Carpaccio with Pignoli Dust
Serves 4
2 oz. ostrich filet
1 cup claytonia, or baby arugula
Juice of 1/2 lemon
2 T olive oil
Fresh ground black pepper
3 T pine nuts, toasted
Truffle oil (optional)

To make the carpaccio, thinly slice the filet and place it onto some plastic wrap.   Place another piece of plastic wrap atop, and flatten out the filet the flat side of a meat tenderizer.  If you don't have one, you can use a saute pan as well.  Pound it out as thin as possible.  Remove, and place onto 4 cold, separate plates, divided evenly.  In a small bowl, toss the claytonia (or arugula) with lemon juice and olive oil.  Sprinkle with a little salt and ground pepper to taste. Divide and arrange over the ostrich carpaccio.

For the pignoli dust, crush the pine nuts in a mortar and pestle.  For pine nuts, you won't want to use a food processor - if you over process, it can become a paste (it can also become pasty from the heat of the motor running).  Sprinkle the pignoli dust all over the carpaccio.  Finish with a little sea salt on the meat itself, and drizzle with truffle oil.   Taste, and devour!

So. Good.  I may actually have to start purchasing ostrich often just to make this carpaccio.  The flavors all together - classic carpaccio flavors - were just amped up by the ingredients used.  The claytonia hits the spot - if you ever see it, purchase it immediately!   The slight gaminess of the ostrich paired perfectly with the acidity of the lemon dressing, and the crunch of the sea salt brings it all together.  Grand!

And round two:

Cacao Rubbed Ostrich Filet with Sauteed Kale Flowers & Petit Syrah Reduction
Serves 2
2 6 oz. ostrich filets
2 T. raw cacao powder
Kosher salt
1 C petit syrah (or other red wine)

2 cups kale flowers, roughly chopped
1/4 cup onion, minced
2 T olive oil
1 T red wine vinegar
1/2 t crushed red pepper, more or less depending on your wanted level of spice
Sea salt
Fresh ground pepper

For the ostrich, take the filets out of the fridge, salt generously, and allow to sit out for about 15 minutes.  Heat up a cast iron pan over medium heat, swirling in the olive oil and allowing it to come to heat.  Right before cooking, rub one side of each filet with the cacao powder.   Place each filet into the hot pan, cacao side down, and allow to cook until a golden crust has formed, about 4 minutes.  Flip and cook again until seared and golden.  Remove from heat and allow to rest, 8 minutes or so.  Pour in the red wine, scrape up any bits from the pan, and reduce until it has reached a syrupy consistency. Remove from heat.

While the ostrich is resting, start cooking the kale flowers.  If you can't find kale flowers, you can use broccolini, or something similar.  Heat up some olive oil over medium heat in a saute pan, and toss in the onion, allow to sweat and gain a little bit of a golden color, and toss in the kale flowers.  Cook until just al dente and wilted.   Taste for seasoning, and add a bit of sea salt and fresh ground pepper.  Finally, pour the vinegar over the flowers, toss to combine, and get ready to plate! 

Divide the kale flowers (or whichever veg you choose) evenly amongst the plates, and brush on a little red wine reduction.  Thinly slice each filet, arrange over the red wine reduction, and finish with a sprinkle of sea salt.  

Ostrich with cacao? Tasty! When I first tasted the ostrich raw, by itself, I immediately thought of a cocoa flavor - I knew I didn't want something sweet, but just wanted that raw, essence of chocolate flavor.  What better to use than straight up, cacao? It definitely paired beautifully.  It brought out the flavor of the meat, but didn't cover it up at all. The flavor of the cacao also came through a tad in the red wine reduction, pulling all the flavors together.  Since ostrich and the reduction are both "heavier" flavors, the freshness of the kale saute really evened everything out.  The vinegar finish was key.

Altogether, this was a serious ostrich party.  I think people need to reevaluate the delicious-ness of this protein and really give it a shot! 


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