Monday, June 15, 2009

Sunday Roast: Kangaroo

Kangaroo: The Sustainable Australian Meat

Farming some native species may be one of the best ways to protect our environment for future generations. Tim Flannery, biological scientist at Macquarie University and author of The Future Eaters, and The Weather Makers, argues there are good environmental, as well as nutritional, reasons for eating kangaroo.

Environmental points
It costs the Australian environment nothing to produce kangaroo meat. In comparison, seven kilograms of soil are used to produce one kilogram of wheat. Animals are killed in the production of even a vegetarian's food supply. Whole ecosystems are lost when forests are cleared to plant crops and toxic pesticides for maintaining crops also cause animal deaths. The kangaroo meat industry is sustainable and does not threaten kangaroo populations. Since the arrival of Europeans, kangaroos have thrived because of increased grasslands, better water supply through dams and bores and reduced dingo numbers, the kangaroo's main predator. Kangaroo numbers are so great that some farmers consider the animals a pest. Ironically, the industry that was established to control kangaroo numbers has only succeeded in taking a sustainable yield, despite killing up to 20% of the total population in certain years. The kangaroo meat industry only harvests non endangered species. Farming wild animals is less cruel than raising domesticated animals for meat. Kangaroos do not suffer the stress of live trucking and abattoirs. Instead they live freely in the wild until they are killed instantly by professional shooters.

Kangaroos do not produce Methane gas (a dangerous greenhouse gas that is much more potent than carbon dioxide) whereas cattle do produce high amounts that significantly contribute to the overall greenhouse gas emissons of the planet. Dr George Wilson of Australian Wildlife Services states: "Kangaroos have different flora in their guts. Basically they operate on a different system. They have a pseudo rumen and it operates with different flora. Cattle have a full rumen and the flora that they have, the micro-organisms, when they start digesting the cellulose and lignin it produces methane. Steps that can be taken to reduce methane are a much more effective way of addressing greenhouse gas problems than focusing on carbon dioxide."
You'll find the full transcript at

Nutritional points
Kangaroo meat is low fat (under 2%), most of which is polyunsaturated and only has 98 calories per 100 gram (3.5 ounce) serving. Kangaroo meat is also free from chemicals, hormones and pesticides.

The way kangaroo meat is aged can also have a huge impact on taste.
Young meat with 1 to 3 weeks from killing can have a subtle flavour making it indistinguishable from quality beef while a very intense gamey flavor will develop with well aged meat – up to 3 months when stored under oil. If you prefer the light gamey flavor, then I suggest you purchase frozen kangaroo as this stops the ageing process. I picked up a frozen rump from Tracey's Quality Meats Cronulla by Southern Game Meat.

Kangaroo Roast (with Creamy Polenta & Red Earth Mash)
1 kangaroo rump not over 500 grams
good quality olive oil
1 pinch fennel seeds
1 pinch salt
1 tsp cumin seeds
2 tsp semi-dried thyme from the garden
Fresh cracked black pepper (Australian bush pepper is the best)
150g Yellow Polenta
400ml Water
400ml Milk (or milk substitute such as Soy or Rice milk)
Extra dash of milk for mash
1 Large Sweet Potato
1 White potato
1 tsp vegetable stock powder
2 tsp margarine (ProActive is good to lower cholesterol and is plant based)
2 tbsp pecorino pepato grated
2 tsp fresh rosemary chopped
Fresh Rocket
Caramelised Balsamic Vinegar
Marinated grilled Artichokes in vinegar

Kangaroo Rump
1. Marinate rump in olive oil, fennel seeds, cumin seeds, half the semi-dried thyme, salt and black pepper for about 30 minutes. Meanwhile prepare the rest of the meal.

2. Heat up a heavy bottomed stainless steel pan. If the pan is not hot enough the meat will become tough giving it a strong, unpleasant flavour.

3. Place the meat into the hot frying pan without any additional oil and sear for about 3 minutes on both sides. Remove the meat from the pan and place in a preheated oven (220°C ), for approximately 15 minutes. Check to see if this is done well enough to your taste - it will be medium-rare to rare. NB: Kangaroo is best cooked no more than medium, so if you want to cook it some more, watch it closely so that it does not overcook and become tough.

4. Remove kangaroo from the oven and allow it to stand covered in foil in a warm place for the same amount of time that it was cooked. NB: Kangaroo meat expands quickly when subjected to lots of heat. It needs time to settle and return to shape. The heat on the outside of the meat is enough to cook the inside of the meat to perfection.
NB: Kangaroo meat can also be cooked on a very hot barbecue.

5. After resting the meat, slice the kangaroo fillet across the grain, which is the final step in maintaining the tenderness.

Creamy Polenta

1. Bring 400ml Milk and 400ml Water to the boil

2. Add Polenta in a thin stream whisking all the while

3. Simmer for 50min stirring often

4. Before serving add 1tsp margarine, salt, pepper, grated pecorino pepato, rosemary and remaining thyme.

Red Earth Mash

1. Boil water in a saucepan and cook the potato and sweet potato with vegetable stock powder until soft

2. Drain water and mash potato with 1 tsp margarine, salt and pepper and a dash of milk. Leave a little chunky to contrast with the creamy polenta.

Place Kangaroo fillets on top of the polenta and mash with some juices.

Serve with fresh rocket and artichokes drizzled with caramelised balsamic vinegar.

Add extra salad ingredients as desired; I used cucumber and a bit of red pepper from the fridge to add some more colour. When I have my own farm I will choose vegies that are in season from tha garden, so it will be whatever is available! In winter courgettes and beans are good to grow and these would also be lovely seared and baked with the Kangaroo.

(Note: Other Aussie seasonings are rated to work well with kangaroo - such as native wattleseeds and quandong paste. Some others reccomended by Benjamin Christie are: Australian Wildfire Spice, Red Desert Dust, Wylde thyme, Yakajirri or Alpine Pepper are all good for a range of flavors from Vic Cherikoff.). However, many of these are expensive and you can make your meal more sustainable, and grow your own.

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