Of the ‘Lucky Country’, Mate!

kangaroo & pomegranate reduction

 I’m not Australian. If I were, I’d make a concerted effort to grill on a regular basis just so I could say “bah-bie”. I’d also call everyone a “mate” – which Americans might not take well to, nor my hubs. I’d understand all the craze behind this product they call ‘vegemite’ which, from what I can tell, is something I’d never want on my bread when I could instead have preserves or apple butter. I’d presumably like Uggs. And last but certainly not least – if I were Australian, I’d eat a helluva lot of kangaroo.

Don’t start giving me a sob story about those cute little marsupials that hop around with their “joeys” all innocent-like. I think Bambi and Piglet are cute too, but that doesn’t mean I’m becoming a vegetarian any time soon. So, just bear with me, ok?

kangaroo meat

 Kangaroo meat is, for obvious reasons, primarily consumed in Australia, but you will sometimes see it making its’ way onto European menus (and maybe even in the US, though I haven’t seen it). Since the meat is produced only from free-range (i.e., not farmed) animals, the taste is a bit stronger and probably somewhere between that of lamb and venison (although I’ve only had venison once so I can’t comment heavily on its’ taste), a bit gamey if truth be told. It’s extra high in protein and super low in fat, making it a great red meat choice.

Some have even suggested eating ‘roo instead of beef because it’s environmentally friendlier (yes, in Australia… not here in the US…). And for you Top Chef-er’s, it was one of the ‘exotic meats’ on Season Three for one of their opening challenges.

pomegranate arils

 What does all this European and Australian banter have to do with me and my American self, you ask? I’ll tell you.

Hubs and I took a holiday to Spain last September (yes, sticking with the Euro-talk) where we spent 3 days in Madrid and 3 days in Barcelona. Now let me be clear – I was completely more than fine with eating tapas, especially the jamon, all week. But rather than following the crowd through las Ramblas, we opted for an off-the-beaten-path restaurant for our last night in Barcelona and found ourselves at a quaint little spot called Nonell Restaurante. Despite the off-and-on sprinkling, we sat outdoors underneath an umbrella’d table. We must have fooled them since we weren’t wearing sneakers and fanny paks as they first gave us the Catalonian menu (Barcelona’s primary language, Spanish being second). Fortunately, they had a perfectly translated English menu and once we knew what the choices were it became pretty difficult to decide.

I don’t remember what I ate, but Chris ordered the kangaroo, figuring he’d go “balls to the wall” on the last night. It was fabulous, and we were immediately saddened by the lack of ‘roo in the US – especially Chris. But that didn’t stop me – I found an awesome US-based exotic meat importer called Fossil Farms and ordered him up some for Christmas. I finished off the shipment this weekend. 

kangaroo, mash, salad

 If you’re “game”, give the ‘roo a try.

Kangaroo with Mixed Peppercorn & Pomegranate Reduction
Adapted from Bon Appetit, November 2009; serves 4
Pairs nicely with a bold Australian shiraz

You’re right – Bon Appetit did NOT have a ‘roo recipe! But rather than finding a recipe specific to kangaroo, I thought I’d find a steak recipe that didn’t appear to completely mask the steak flavors and then substitute the ‘roo for it. I knew I wanted to make a pomegranate reduction with the ‘roo, and this recipe was the perfect answer. I’m sure, if you don’t want to try the ‘roo, that the suggested sirloin steak would be excellent as well!

printable recipe

ingredients
1 1/4 lb kangaroo loin (or, as BA uses, 1 1 1/4 lb top sirloin steak)
mixed peppercorns
1 1/2 t chopped fresh rosemary
2 1/2 t olive oil, divided
1 c pomegranate juice
4 t light brown sugar
2 1/2 t balsamic vinegar, divided
4 c arugula
4 T pomegranate seeds

instructions
Sprinkle fillets very generously with coarsely ground peppercorn mix and salt. Sprinkle each side of fillet with chopped rosemary. Heat 1 1/2 teaspoons olive oil in large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add fillet; cook to desired doneness, about 5 minutes per side for medium-rare (if you do use kangaroo, you really shouldn’t cook above med-rare). Transfer fillet to platter and let rest, tented, while preparing reduction. Add pomegranate juice, brown sugar, and 2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar to skillet; boil until reduced to 1/4 cup glaze, stirring occasionally, about 5 minutes. Will be be thick and syrup consistency. Season glaze to taste with salt.

Toss arugula with remaining 1 teaspoon olive oil and remaining 1/2 teaspoon balsamic vinegar in medium bowl; season to taste with salt. Divide arugula evenly among 4 plates and add pomegranate seeds. Slice fillets; divide and arrange alongside arugula. Drizzle glaze generously around fillets and serve.

 

Potato-Rutabaga Mash
Serves 4

printable recipe

ingredients
3 average-sized russet potatoes, peeled and cut into chunks
2 small rutabaga, peeled and cut into chunks
2 T unsalted butter
2 T heavy cream

instructions
bring a large pot of water to boil and add potatoes. boil about 15 minutes. drain. mash potatoes with potato masher, or run through food mill. add in butter and cream while mash is hot. season with salt and pepper. set aside and rewarm if needed.

Something Else to Root For

root vegetables


Allow me to introduce you to a new friend of mine. A new kind of pie. And I’m not talking about some weird combination that you’ve never tried in a dessert pie. Although I did find a recipe for a red wine and pear pie that I need an excuse to make. But seriously. Savory pie. Oh yeah – that’s it. You know what time it is. Now, you may be skeptical. And you may be even more skeptical when I tell you that the pie was full of root vegetables – specifically the subtype with taproots. Meaning – rutabaga, turnip, parsnip, carrot, celeriac. At this point, you may be about to head your little mouse (or finger if you are the laptop kind) to the back button. Don’t be so fast to leave. I almost did the same thing. In fact, I did. It took me a couple of smaller likable root veggie dishes (like a rutabaga & potato mash) to even consider giving this a chance. Would it help if I told you that this particular friend of mine has a particularly starchy accessory with ingredients including butter & buttermilk? No? What if I added the earthy, woodsy, almost minty herb, rosemary? Now you’re hooked eh? Thought that might do it.


baked veggies

I should warn you – this dish is not a “throw together during the week” dish. It’s gonna take some time, a little knife skill, a good peeler (unless, unlike me, you can peel with a knife without paring away half of the inside while still managing to leave peel intact), and some good tunes in the background. You’d like a recommendation? Ok…. try the new Chris Isaak album, Mr Lucky. Nice and chill, a little jazzy, great background music. It also helps if you have a good husband or wife, or even friend around to help with the peeling. Mine suddenly realized how much fun it was to surf the web when I asked. But that’s ok – I strangely enjoy coming home from work and working in the kitchen. Peeling vegetables. Even washing a few dishes. Especially with a nice glass of wine waiting. Which it was. I even peeled some veggies and did the first part the night before, while I was making Friday night’s dinner. Not a bad idea either.

biscuit addition
So, without further adieu – Friend, meet Root Veggie & Mushroom Pie. Root Veggie & Mushroom Pie, meet Friend. Oh, and the sidekick – Rosemary Biscuit Topping. How could I forget?!


all done

Root Vegetable & Mushroom Pie w/ Rosemary Biscuit Topping
Adapted from Bon Appetit magazine; serves 8 as meal, 10-12 as side dish


So, what might I do differently if I made this dish again? This dish has proven to me that I am not a huge fan of celery root. I’d leave that big honkin’ thing out and add another rutabaga. But if you like celery root, by all means leave that thing in there. One piece of advice – I’d highly recommend that you put a ridged baking sheet underneath the baking dish. This dish will practically pop out of the baking dish while in the oven, especially after the biscuits are placed atop. Unless you want a house full of smoke, put the tray underneath. Not that that happened, or anything. But just that it might :). Oh, and if you do have this as a main dish, all you need in addition is a small side salad such as arugula with shaved parmesano-reggiano and champagne-lemon vinaigrette.



ingredients

Filling:
  • 6 cups water
  • 2 tablespoons vegetarian bouillon base
  • 2 very large carrots, peeled, quartered lengthwise, cut crosswise into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 1 large celery root (celeriac), peeled, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 2 large parsnips, peeled, quartered lengthwise, cut crosswise into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 1 large rutabaga, peeled, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
  • 1 turnip, peeled, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
  • 1 ounce dried porcini mushrooms,* broken into 1/2-inch pieces, rinsed
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 3 cups chopped onions
  • 4 large garlic cloves, chopped
  • 1/2 teaspoon minced fresh rosemary
  • 1/2 cup all purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 2 tablespoons imported dry Sherry
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh Italian parsley

Biscuits:
  • 2 1/4 cups unbleached all purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 2 teaspoons minced fresh rosemary
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) chilled unsalted butter, diced
  • 1 1/3 cups (or more) chilled buttermilk

instructions

 

For filling:
Bring 6 cups water and bouillon base to boil in large pot over medium-high heat, stirring to dissolve bouillon. Add carrots and next 5 ingredients. Simmer until vegetables are tender, about 7 minutes. Drain; reserve vegetables and broth.

Melt butter in same pot over medium heat. Add onions; sauté until beginning to brown, about 10 minutes. Mix in garlic and rosemary; stir 2 minutes. Add flour; stir 1 minute. Gradually whisk in reserved broth, then cream and Sherry. Cook until sauce is thick and reduced to 4 cups, whisking often, about 8 minutes. Mix in reserved vegetables and parsley. Season with salt and pepper. Transfer filling to buttered 13x9x2-inch baking dish. DO AHEAD: Can be made 2 days ahead. Cover with foil; chill.

Preheat oven to 400°F. Bake filling, covered, until bubbling, about 50 minutes. Meanwhile, prepare biscuits.

For biscuits:
 

Stir first 4 ingredients in large bowl to blend. Add butter. Using fingertips, rub in butter until mixture resembles coarse meal. Gradually add 1 1/3 cups buttermilk, tossing with fork until dough is evenly moistened and adding more buttermilk by tablespoonfuls if dry.

Drop biscuit dough atop hot filling by heaping tablespoonfuls; sprinkle with pepper. Bake uncovered until tester inserted into center of biscuits comes out clean, about 45 minutes.

 Cool 15 minutes. Then dig in.