Origin: Africa and Near East
Etymology: from Latin avis, “bird,” + struthio, “ostrich.”
Struthionidae family. Struthioniforms are often called “ratites,” a generic name for running birds incapable of flight.
Standing tall on stilt-like legs, with a long thin neck and flightless wings, the ostrich seems to scoff at humans as it shakes the feathers of its backside like a cancan dancer. The ostrich is the biggest bird in the world. While the babies and females are fairly peaceful, the male, measuring between 1.5 and 2.7 meters high, has very sharp claws and can prove to be aggressive. Therefore he’s usually placed alone in a pen, away from others of his kind with whom he’d squabble. Because of its large size, an ostrich consumes approximately 1 tonne of grain in the first 18 months of its life and pecks on average 4000 times a day. The female ostrich lays some 40 eggs between the months of February and October. These are placed in an incubator for 39 days and the little ostrich peeks out after 45 days. In farmed operations, three races of ostrich can be distinguished by the color of their neck: African blacks, blues and reds. And forget about the ostrich hiding its head in the sand: that’s a myth! The female will, however, lay her neck on the ground to hide herself in case of danger.
Nutritional values per 100 g
Calories: 106; carbohydrates: 0; fat: 2 g; protein: 22 g; cholesterol: 49 mg. Ideal for low-fat and healthy heart diets.
There are two categories when it comes to tenderness. The top one includes the following cuts: fan, inside fillet, outside fillet, back tender, medallion, roast, pearl and oyster. What exactly is this last one, you might ask! When you carve a roast chicken, you’ll notice two little oval pieces on the back part of the bird, at the top of the muscle of the leg. These “oysters” are exceptionally tender, and since the ostrich is such a large bird, each oyster weighs about 100 g.
Follow the same storage principles as you would for beef. When placed in the coldest part of the refrigerator, ostrich meat will easily keep for three or four days, depending on the thickness of the piece.
As red as beef, ostrich meat is also similar in flavor. Presented as medallions, fillet, escalopes or roast, it can be prepared like venison, using the same cooking methods.
Its characteristic texture allows it to absorb flavors. It adores berries such as blackberries, red currants, raspberries and cranberries and is well-suited to sweet and sour marinades.
Because of its low fat content, it’s important not to overcook ostrich. It is perfect when seared and then cooked to rare or medium-rare.
You can cook little individual roasts with no advance preparation, or else let them marinate for a few hours in olive oil with a branch of rosemary… in which case there’s no need to add oil to the skillet.
Tie each portion like a little roast with kitchen string, inserting some rosemary branches in the center. Sear in a little olive oil in a skillet over high heat for 1 minute on each side; place on a non-stick or lightly oiled baking sheet; put into a preheated 200° C (400° F) oven for 7 to 8 minutes; let rest. Meanwhile, deglaze the skillet with balsamic vinegar diluted with an equal amount of water; let reduce; add a few field berries.
Sear the ostrich back tenders in an oiled skillet over high heat, turning half way through; allow about 2 minutes per side depending on the thickness, but keep in mind they are best served rare. Remove from the pan and keep warm. Deglaze the pan with 125 ml (1/2 cup) white wine and 60 ml (1/4 cup) citrus juice; add 2 tsp. green peppercorns and reduce by half. Serve with mandarin sections and a little potato pancake.
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