What is it about cute animals that causes such controversy when they’re turned into tasty dishes ? Rob certainly knows what I’m talking about ever since recreating an El Bulli masterpiece of deep fried bunny ears (!) Now any card carrying PETA member will get sufficiently riled at the mere thought of eating meat, whether it be sheep, cows, pigs, or other… but nothing fires up those latent animal rights activists, who might otherwise let meaty bygones be bygones, more than something cute and furry on the menu.
Now I’m not about to start harvesting kangaroo ears or tails, or paws, and turning them into some kind of elaborate sorbet that requires a half tonne of liquid nitrogen and an industrial meat mincer to create. I’m much more concerned about eating something tasty, rather than pushing any sort of quasi political agenda, however I do find it interesting that there is still something about eating our native animal and national emblem that a great deal of Australians find off putting. We’re still really working out whether we even have a national dish.
The thing is though… Kangaroo is delicious meat. It’s dark and rich and gamey, and if seasoned well and cooked properly, can evoke all the melt in your mouth qualities of a well cooked hunk of beef. Of course, Kangaroos aren’t renowned for the amount of fat they have on them, so if you overcook it, it will turn out dry, and hard, and rubbery, and terrible. Along the lines of one of Dad’s lambs fry (fried liver) breakfasts from my childhood.
Don’t expect me to start draping myself in the flag, eating witchety grubs for breakfast, and seasoning everything with wattleseed. But I think Kangaroo is something that everyone should try at least once so they can say they have. The sooner we break out of the mould of thinking of ourselves either as a former British colony, or as the Mediterranean relocated down under… the sooner we’ll be able to embrace much more of our native produce in new and interesting ways.
- Kangaroo fillets (the thicker the better)
- Olive oil, salt, to season
- Szechuan peppercorns
- cherry tomatoes
- red onion
- red wine
How I made mine
So basically rub the fillets all over with olive oil and season well with salt (perhaps trying some Murray River salt as mentioned by Linda in the comments recently), then grind the Szechuan peppercorns up and rub it all over the meat. Leave that to sit for a while, and in the meantime, put the potatoes on to boil.
When the potatoes are almost cooked, but still quite firm, take them out and plunge them into an ice bowl (or bowl of cold water). Then carefully (they’ll still be hot inside) peal them. Cooking them in the skins supposedly keeps the flavour in while they’re cooking… but if you can’t be bothered, peel them beforehand.
Once they’re peel, slice them into little round pieces for sautéing. Season a pan with olive oil on high heat and very quickly fry some garlic for flavour, then throw in the potato slices and a good stick of butter. Sauté the potatoes on a high heat until they are nice and crispy and golden on the outside.
Now we’re ready to cook the kangaroo. Remember… less is more… less time cooking = more juices and flavour left in the meat… obviously there’s an optimal point for everyone, but I personally don’t go much past rare when cooking kangaroo. So put it into a hot pan with olive oil and sear quickly all over for a few minutes (depending on how thick the piece is). Give it a poke to try and work out how done it is, and when it’s close to being done, take it out and put it into the oven to finish cooking. It should only be in a moderate oven for a 10 minutes or so before being ready. Take it out of the oven, let it to sit and rest for a few minutes, and then slice it up into elegant morsels.
When you’re done with the kangaroo, deglaze the pan juices with red wine, add your cherry tomatoes, red onion, and a little sugar for a caramelising effect to the sauce. Reduce it down until the onions and tomatoes are falling apart and the sauce is thick… And you’re done.
Arrange your potatoes and kangaroo on a plate and spoon the sauce over the top. I served mine with a robust Shiraz (the Croftiers Shiraz from Houghtons in the Swan Valley), which fit the full flavours of the kangaroo perfectly.
If that isn’t a slice of Australia, I don’t know what is !