Friday, November 11, 2011

Day 171! Swaziland - Karoo Roast Ostrich Steak - Up Next, Sweden

How does one pass up the opportunity to cook with ostrich? One doesn't. This traditional Swazi recipe for flash-fried, marinated ostrich steak, served with a pumpkin and mealie meal (ground maize) mash, is both unique to the this beautiful African country, and seasonally appropriate for what's regionally available in the Northeast U.S. during this fall season of pumpkins and squash. A big shout-out to my wonderful husband for schlepping to Savenor's Market in Cambridge after work to scoop up two beautiful ostrich fillets. If you're a fan of wild and exotic game, you MUST check out this full-service butcher shop and family owned business, which by the way, was Julia Child's go-to market, so you know, it's got some very special, hard to source supplies at the ready.

A landlocked country, Swaziland, also known as Ngwane or Swatini, is bordered by Mozambique and South Africa. The country's subtropical climate includes mountains and lowveld (wide open rural spaces). During the 15th and 16th centuries, the African people of Nguni descent migrated southward from Central Africa. Eventually, during the mid-18th century, a group of them settled in the area which is now Swaziland. These people, the Nkosi Dlamini, became known as the Swazis, and today both names live on in the country. Nkosi means ‘king’ and Dlamini is the surname of the royal family. After a long period of rule by the British (as a protectorate), the country gained independence in 1968. Unlike many African countries, Swaziland claims that it has been 99% free of political violence. Sadly, the country has been ravaged by the HIV/AIDS pandemic, and although health care has improved, the human, economic and societal toll is nothing short of tragic. For a more in-depth description of the country's history, readers are referred to this site.

Cuisine in Swaziland varies depending on seasonal and geographic region. Sorghum, maize, goat, ostrich, sugar, pumpkins, beans, corn, citrus, peanuts and rice are staple crops that are largely farmed by subsistence farmers. Mealie meal, a ground maize porridge is eaten in most every household as it's both plentiful and filling.

Red wine and juniper berries make the marinade

Slice the meat as thin as possible - Ostrich is very lean with almost no fat

Marinate overnight - crushed juniper berries smell heavenly

Pumpkin  - a staple in Swaziland is readily available in New England now!

Ground Maize - also known as grits or polenta - both of which I love!

Slice an onion super thin for the sauce

Crush up some green peppercorns for the sauce (I added extra)

White wine and cream ... there are few better combinations

Saute the onions, until butter turns nut brown, add wine, cream and peppercorns, salt and simmer

Serve and enjoy!

Karoo Roast Ostrich Steak (Recipe Courtesy of

2 ostrich steaks, thinly sliced
1 onion, finely sliced
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 cup white wine
6 green peppercorns, lightly crushed
1 pumpkin, peeled and cubed
1/2 cup mealie meal (ground maize)
3/4 cup red wine
5 juniper berries, lightly crushed
Butter for frying onion and ostrich

Slice the ostrich steaks as finely as possible and marinate in red wine and juniper berries and refrigerate over night.
Add the pumpkin and mealie meal to a pot, cover with water and boil for about 30 minutes, or until the pumpkin is soft. Add more water if needed. When cooked pour off any excess liquid and mash the pumpkin and mealie meal together.
Meanwhile, add the onion to a pan and sweat in a little butter until just nut brown.
Add the cream, white whine and green peppercorns and bring to gentle simmer.
Season and add a little arrowroot if the sauce is too thin.
Finally add a little butter to a frying pan and cook the ostrich by flash frying the meat. Do not over cook as the meat will become very dry.
To serve, place the pumpkin mash in the center of a plate, arrange the strips of ostrich meat around the outside and drizzle the cream sauce over the top.

Final Assessment: I love ostrich meat. It's lean and full of flavor, so I sauteed it for just a few seconds in a little bit of olive oil. The mealie meal and pumpkin mash is surprisingly delicious and filling. If you like grits or polenta, you'll love the combination. And, oh, the cream sauce - I could spoon that concoction out of the pan and call it a day. A wonderful, classy meal!

© 2010-2011, What's Cooking in Your World? Sarah Commerford/All Rights Reserved


witchywoman said...

I have to say that is one unique dish. You're pretty brave, I like game meat...well, some of does that compare to, say, duck? Great post, by the way...xoxoxo!

sadie said...

Thanks, Laurrie. It's nothing like duck, which is fattier and greasier (in a good way). It's very lean, but not gammy. I think you'd really like it!