The Unvegan

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Strange Meats: Ostrich

Pan-seared ostrich.
Pan-seared ostrich.

The ostrich is a strange creature. A relic of a world ruled by birds, it is both flightless and the largest bird on Earth. These factors combine to make it ideal for food, and if it weren’t the fastest bird on the planet, I have a feeling its meat would be a bit more ubiquitous on the dinner plate. Ostrich is certainly not the strangest of meats, as it can be found as beef alternative in healthy burgers. Yet, it is unquestionably abnormal.

For starters, ostrich tastes nothing like chicken or turkey. In fact, its red meat is more similar to venison or beef than to its closer bird cousins. I’m not sure how evolution took this path, but I think the world is better for it. The result is a healthier red meat (I’m guessing because of all the running ostriches do) that can be served just as any other red meat can.

Lifeless ostrich burger.
Lifeless ostrich burger.

In my experience, ostrich meat is unsuitable as a burger. People usually pick it to try to eat healthier, but the result is often a dry, lifeless patty. It may have a beefy flavor, but we all know that a burger needs texture, moisture and more. Without these, it is useless.

Let it shine like a steak.
Let it shine like a steak.

Yet, when treated more like steak, ostrich can shine. I’ve had it done up as a filet and pan-seared and both were quite good. The key is to cook it perfectly enough to seal in the juices. I’ve never tried this and assume it isn’t easy, but it can be done, and well.

Ostrich burgers may be a mistake, but that is no reason to write off ostrich. The ostrich may be fast, but not fast enough to escape my appetite. Now, if I could get some ostrich eggs over easy, that would be the dream.