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.
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.
I vacuum sealed these, two to a bag.
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 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.
I chopped the shallot and fried it, in a little butter, until soft. I then added the chicken stock and wine.
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 simmered and reduced the sauce to a nice thick consistency. I then added about half the cherries.
Next, I took the ostrich out of the water bath and dried them on kitchen paper.
I fried them briefly (very briefly) in some hot butter.
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.
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…..