Egyptian Style Ostrich Sous Vide and the Five Stages of the Cooking Process.

Ostrich with armenia cherry sauce (15 of 15)I’m not a head-in-the-sand kind of guy. I was brought up by my fantastic parents to face up to the anguish that life flings our way. When we get grief (the real stuff, not the “somebody stole my parking space” kind), psychologists say that we go through five distinct stages. These stages ware replicated in a lot of my cooking.

Stage 1 – Denial. To date in my short life (Life starts to look shorter, the more of it you get to have.), I’ve been denied the pleasure of eating ostrich. It’s hardly surprising, there aren’t many of them running around these urban Irish parts. So, when my local butcher, Fenelon’s in Stillorgan told me they had some in stock, I decided to give ostrich steaks a whirl.

When I searched the Internet for recipe inspiration, I entered Stage 2 – Anger. Yes, anger because I couldn’t find anything that motivated me. There were lots of recipes. Many warning that if you cook it anywhere towards medium, ostrich meat gets very tough. I had been warned. Sous vide it would have to be. That way, I can control the doneness. With the sous vide decision made, I concluded the recipe thinking. The Wife usually lets me do as I please in the kitchen. However, I had something a little “out there” in mind for the ostrich. Hence, I entered Stage 3 – Bargaining.

Given it’s “gamey” taste, I settled on Sous Vide Ostrich on Parsnip Purée with Armenia Cherry Sauce. I needed to convince Herself that it would be a good idea. Surprisingly, without any debate, she agreed. So, a little surprised, I got on with it. Leading straight into Stage 4 – Depression. It didn’t last long. Just a brief visit from the Black Dog, brought on by the ease of the bargaining with the Wife. If she had put up a fight, getting my own way would have been a victory. I like victory. But, it was not to be. I will put stage 5 on hold for the moment.

There is not a lot to this. Having fresh, homemade chicken stock helped.

There is not a lot to this. Having fresh, homemade chicken stock helped.

Here’s the ingredients list forSous Vide Ostrich on Parsnip Purée with Armenia Cherry Sauce:

  • 4 ostrich steaks (plenty for two)
  • 1 shallot
  • 2 tablespoons of good chicken stock
  • 1 glass of good red wine
  • Half a jar of Armenia cherries in juice
  • Butter for both the sous vide and the sauce
  • 4 parsnips
  • 250 ml of milk (half pint)
  • Sprigs of thyme
  • Salt and pepper

First, I seasoned the ostrich steaks and added a bit of butter and some thyme.

There are 5 stages of cooking 4 ostrich steaks.

There are 5 stages of cooking 4 ostrich steaks.

I vacuum sealed these, two to a bag.

I love the look of the vacuumed meat.

I love the look of the vacuumed meat.

I placed the vacuumed ostrich steaks in a water bath at 52ºC (125ºF) for three hours. Close to serving time, I peeled the parsnips.

Side note on ostrich behaviour: If you want to avoid facing up to any grief in your life, behave like an ostrich if you must. Over the years, I have met many people who live with their “head in the sand” on various issues. Ostriches don’t do this. Not even when they are avoiding life’s realities. It’s an urban myth. Not that many ostriches live in urban areas. That’s a myth too. 

I like this moody parsnip peeling shot.

I like this moody parsnip peeling shot.

I placed the peeled and chopped parsnips in a saucepan with the milk and some salt and pepper. I simmered them until soft, then added the lot to a blender.

My crappy blender needed to be jiggled to get it to purée the parsnips.

My crappy blender needed to be jiggled to get it to purée the parsnips.

I chopped the shallot and fried it, in a little butter, until soft. I then added the chicken stock and wine.

This sauce is a strange mis of ingredients. But, it works so well!

This sauce is a strange mix of ingredients. But, it works so well!

I simmered this for about ten minutes before straining it and returning it to the pan. I then added about half the juice from the jar of cherries.

I can't resist a good pouring shot. This qualifies in my book.

I can’t resist a good pouring shot. This qualifies in my book.

I simmered and reduced the sauce to a nice thick consistency. I then added about half the cherries.

These cherries always look great. They have a lovely sheen.

These cherries always look great. They have a lovely sheen.

Next, I took the ostrich out of the water bath and dried them on kitchen paper.

The cooked ostrich doesn't look too appetising at this stage.

The cooked ostrich doesn’t look too appetising at this stage.

I fried them briefly (very briefly) in some hot butter.

They start to look a bit more tasty.

They start to look a bit more tasty.

The penultimate thing to do was assembly. I dolloped the purée on the plate, sliced and placed the ostrich on top. I then did my best to do a ‘restaurant quality’ bit of sauce and cherry arrangement.

That looks pretty acceptable to me. A 'Stage 5' if ever i saw one.

That looks pretty acceptable to me. A ‘Stage 5’ if ever I saw one.

Stage 5 – Acceptance. The final step in the process is Acceptance. This is a two-fold thing. Firstly, I have to accept that I don’t have the plating skills of a top restaurant chef. Secondly, you have to accept from me that sous vide ostrich is absolutely delicious. It tastes like a cross between fillet steak and gamey venison. It works perfectly with the parsnip purée and the bitter-sweet cherry sauce. If the opportunity arises. Try it. It’s worth the trouble of enduring my 5 stages of the cooking process.

Why Egyptian style?, I hear you muse. Because, I believe, they are living in denial…..

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Latest comments
  • Such a good set of pictures, Conor….you’ve really worked out how to make the steps not only clear but also look good. I don’t think I shall be eating ostrich any quicker than I ‘ll be eating my neighbour albeit that my neighbour would certainly be easier to catch and I wouldn’t have to pluck him..or her:)

    • As they blurt out in the local “Stop, I’m getting a visual.” Thanks for the kind words. I have been at this for a while now and often wonder if it would be easier to just shoot the finished product. However, I understand that my photography skills are not that great and I would never be happy with such an approach. In short, quantity over quality!

  • You ended with one of the many joke punch lines I can actually remember. And the analogy, cheered (or cherried?) me up immensely. Great pairing of a gamey crazy meat and a fruit. Tops Mr C.

    • Thanks Lisa,
      Great that I added to the general cheeriness. It is such a poor joke, I thought I had to string it out a bit…

  • I have eaten ostrich and it definitely lends itself to sous vide, as does venison, both should be cooked very slowly or very quickly to avoid toughness. Great recipe and presentation 🙂

    • Thanks MD,
      My big problem with venison at present is the lack of any traceability or real quality control. When I had my friends shooting and preparing it, I could depend on both. Now that my best option is to buy something undersized and often overpriced, my interest wanes. Hopefully I will get a new supply soon.
      I appreciate the kind words.

      • Good luck with the venison supply – I’m trying to get someone to take me on a wild boar hunt in the Pyrenees… 🙂

        • I ate wild boar in a restaurant in the Black Mountains in the south of France, one bitterly cold winter, on a trip towards the coast. It was a daub and was delicious, rib sticking fare.

          • I’ve had similar in Cathar country – I got brownie points because I complimented my friend’s mother (the cook). I think the rest of the family get sick of eating it in the winter. My friend’s father is master of the hunt and it’s absolutely necessary to shoot the boar as they will eat all the grapes on the vineyard.

  • I can actually buy ostrich here, amazingly. It’s very tasty, low fat and barbecues a treat. (Weellll, I am an Aussie…) But I can’t remember it ever being tough. That pouring shot, by the way, is gorgeous, a perfect stream and a glassy smooth surface. Lovely bit of work!

    • Thanks Kate,
      I had expected you to be on top of this one. The sauce was particularly good with it. I was pretty chuffed with the result.
      Nice hat BTW!,

      • That sauce would have been amazing! I’ll be trying something along those lines soon, I hope. Glad you approve of the hat. It appears that my gravatar image is now instantly recognisable due to overwhelming pinkness…

        • I thought my face did the same thing. I need to drink more beer….

          • Hee hee! The perfect excuse…

  • I had ostrich once in a restaurant and loved it — so tender and delicious! I don’t see it much these days, but I can get it by mail order — for way too much money.

    • There was a farm in County Meath, just north of Dublin where an entrepreneurial farmer tried to breed them for profit. It was a boom time thing, now long gone. Hence the rarity here too.

  • I was totally waiting for the punch line about why this was Egyptian considering my own Egyptian culinary endeavors. Good thing I read until the end! A friend and I tried making ostrich a long while back. The results were so brutal that we still refrain from speaking of that day. Glad to see yours turned out so well! Maybe I’ll try it again using my sous vide.

    • It certainly suits the SV process. I encourage you to give it a go if you have access to the meat. A pity you have such poor memories of it. The Wife liked this so well that she is pressuring me to cook it again next weekend.

  • I’ve eaten emu, I guess it’s a similar experience. I’ve buried my head in the sand about cooking such exotic game, but I’m glad you were, game that is. Your cherry sauce and parsnip puree are the icing on the cake.

    • Now that you mention emu, you have set me another target for my cooking. However, there is practically no chance of getting any in these parts. I’m game for emu, if I can get my hands on one.

  • Oh, Conor. I’m afraid you’re out of puntrol.

    On the other hand, you seem to have found the undeniably best way to cook any meat with a reputation for being tough. Might I suggest kangaroo at some stage? Or Inner City Criminal?

    • The ICC is a dying breed. Though, I read that there are some Dublin journalists (themselves an endangered species these days) who know where they can be found. However, the people who are charged with containing the ICC appear both unable and unwilling to protect or even cull the breed. Such is life (and death) on the Mean Streets. I suspect that their numbers will swell as society celebrates their activities through tabloid sensationalism. Politics over. Thanks for the kind comments on the food.

  • Looks wonderful, Conor, and your photography is quite nice, just as we’ve come to expect. The only ostrich I’ve seen here, besides the ones at the zoo, is frozen, ground (minced), and shaped into patties — a far cry from the superb dish that you prepared.

    • Hi John,
      The ground patties don’t inspire one. This was really very good and I plan to cook it for friends very soon. I really love the cherries and use them as often as decency allows. I hope all goes well in the Windy City.

  • I wouldn’t have expected the meat to look so much like venison… very interesting! I would love to try it, but somehow I doubt I’ll ever get to try it. I have never seen it available anywhere. If I ever stumble across any ostrich meat for sale, thanks to you Conor, I will know what I can do with it. Great post!

    • Thanks Debbie,
      You are so right about the availability. They tend to like the flat and open countryside. Little chance of seeing them up where you choose to live amongst the pines and bears.

  • That looks stunning Conor! I’m eyeing kangaroo steaks in a local butchers and I was thinking a nice cherry sauce would go well with them. A bit nervous of overdoing them though. I picked up a couple of jars of those cherries when you recommended them to me. They haven’t made it into a recipe as I have just eaten them straight from the jar!
    Very Billy Connolly of you to tie in the punchline at the end 😉

    • The cherries are very difficult to resist. I haven’t had kangaroo since my friend from Australia snuck some into the country in his suitcase. It was nice but unremarkable. That may have been the fault of the mode of transport as much as my poor cooking.
      BTW, there were a few jars left in Lidl last weekend….

      • Maybe I’ll forget the kangaroo and stick to venison so.
        I tried 2 different Lidl shops and they were both out of the cherries. If you can get a pack of the cherries coated in dark chocolate though I would highly recommend them.

        • I have served these with chocolate fondant. They are delicious with chocolate. Mmmmm chocolate…….

  • Those are lovely cherries! Appetizing meal.

    • Thanks Rosemary, They were purchased during Italian fortnight in Lidl. great value and soooo tasty.

  • The only time I ever see ostrich is at our State Fair. But yours looks a lot better.

    • Thanks Michelle, they are probably a casualty of the disappearing restaurants of Louisville…..

  • I have also had emu, like another reader pointed out, but not ostrich. We have quite a few emu farms around here, along with alpaca farms. The alpacas are for the wool, not for eating. 🙂 Great post, as always Conor. 🙂

    • We had some alpaca here too during the boom. It’s back to cattle, sheep and pigs now. I think we are the better for it too.

  • ‘Tis the 22nd of Feb here and I have ‘suddenly’ woken up to the fact there have been no ‘Oirish’ sends of late!! Thought you were simply busy or out-of-sorts and I have been both here and there!! And look at what I have missed . . . 🙂 Now who the hell deleted me from the stream . . . !!! Have never had ostrich but emu has tasted nice quite a few times . . .

    • Great to see you return Eha,
      I thought you had gone off me. I had to do something to tempt you back….

      • Hmmm! Well, you would probably have to drag me over a close-by Irish cliff and push me over!! Lucky me has had quite a few bog-Irish [not you of course!!!!] friends in my lifetime and I would not do without one single one of you: especially a ‘foodie’!!!!

  • Lol. Good for you. The 5 stages led you to something beautiful. Good job cataloguing the process.

    • Thanks for that and thanks for the visit and follow. I really enjoyed this one. Both writing and eating.

  • Second time making. It’s fabulous. Great visuals and dialogue. Thanks.

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