Ostrich: A New Red Meat

A New Red Meat

Since the high glycogen content of Ostrich meat confers to it an almost sweet flavor, it is suggested to serve it along with a complement of vegetables that contrast nicely with sweet, such as red radicchio and rocket. Rich in proteins and iron, the meat is also low in fat (1-2g per 100g of meat). A large part of those 2g consists of polyunsaturated fatty acids (healthier) as compared with saturated fats. This makes ostrich meat ideal for the diets of babies and the elderly, pregnant and lactating women as well as athletes and people suffering from anemia. As for its flavor; it is more or less similar to high quality beef, although it is much more tender and made up of very short muscle fibers that allow for easier digestion.


Most ostrich meat comes from farms, many of which are located in Israel, South Africa and the US. Sold ever more commonly even in traditional butcher shops, the major obstacle to its purchase is its relatively high price. This due in large part to three factors: high mortality rates among the farm-raised birds, long growing periods (9 months to a year) and low meat yields relative to the animal's weight (35kg edible meat from a 150kg animal).


This meat should be stored in the coldest part of the refrigerator soon after purchase, ideally wrapped in the appropriate polyethylene wraps or in wax paper. It should be consumed within one or two days of purchase at the most.


Ostrich is a flightless bird because it has a flat breastbone that makes it unsuitable for flight. On top of making it flightless, the bird's flat breastbone means it does not have large breast or wing muscles. Therefore the meat from comes from the thigh, leg and back. Cuts are nearly exclusively from the various muscle groups found in the animal's leg, divided into the fillet, sirloin, and thigh. The last cut comes from the neck. From the fillet, cut from the less fibrous part of the animal's thigh, are cut the medallions, kebabs, carpaccios and roasts. From the sirloin; cutlets, steaks, chops and roulades. From the thigh itself; roasts and ground meat for meatballs and hamburgers, while the neck is used in boiled dishes and ossobuco.


In dealing with lean meats such as that of the ostrich, especially when grilling, it is important to baste the meat with abundant extra-virgin olive-oil before cooking it in order to avoid the meat becoming hard and dry due to the quick evaporation of its juices. Another method, useful when cooking whole cuts, is to lard the meat in such a way that it keeps the meat moist. Even for the higher quality cuts, it is preferable to cook ostrich meat in the pan and for only a short period. It is also best if the meat is cooked rare and therefore should be removed from the refrigerator at least half an hour, this also allows for a shorter cooking time. In order to further avoid losing the meat's juices, it is wise not to puncture the meat with a fork but instead handle it with two spoons in a pincer movement. For the same purpose, it is a good idea to brown the ostrich roast in a pan with some butter and extra-virgin olive oil before cooking it in the oven, this creates a barrier on the outside of the meat that helps keep the juices in.

Ostrich meat's extreme tenderness, comparable only to the finest veal fillet, lends itself nicely to being eaten crude and therefore should be tried in a carpaccio or tartar.

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About The Author, David Russo Vmd, Phd
David Russo, VMD, PhDVeterinary Scientist, Gourmet Lover and Amateur CookGourmet Meats and SeafoodCONTACT US