Thursday, May 5, 2011

Kangaroo a la frangourou!

One day in my childhood, Dad came home indignantly from a scouting expedition at the butcher's one day in my childhood, to report that the kangaroo meat he'd tried to source for a meal was unobtainable for human consumption in Australia. There was some to be had but only the family dog could enjoy the Australian equivalent of venison back then as, Dad was told,' it was processed in unhygienic conditions in the bush and then treated with something or other that made it unfit for people'. He's always been keen on trying local specialities and had simply assumed kangaroo would feature on the menu in Australia, and was bitterly disappointed when it wasn't. Eventually, though, he got his wish, and a bowl of kangaroo tail soup, at a traditional pub in Inverell in north west NSW, where he'd travelled on company business preparing a tender to build the Pindari Dam. It was the late 60's or early 70's and Australian country towns were excitingly exotic territory for Dad. He talked a lot about it: the iron-laced pubs, the laconic farmers in big hats, the itinerant rabbit dealer displaying his skinned and dressed wares on a long stick he carried, and most especially, the kangaroo tail soup.

These days in Australia you only have to go as far as your local supermarket to buy kangaroo meat, as fillets, steaks, mince and even sausages. Hygienically processed and very lean but tasty, it's a meat that's found a good deal of gourmet favour. We eat it fairly often here, maybe once a week or every 10 days. We're not keen on the sausages--sausages definitely need fat to be properly tasty, and kangaroo sausages dry out far too much--and the mince is sold in too-big quantities for us. But the fillet and steaks are delicious.

You can eat them simply as themselves--we usually tenderise the steak a little, but not the fillet which is already very tender, and eat them rare with either salt, pepper and mustard, or Bearnaise sauce(see my earlier post on eggs)or a herb and pepper butter. Other times we make other dishes out of them--slow-cooked kangaroo steak makes great roghan josh, for instance, or wonderful red-wine stews or 'hunter's sauce' style dishes for game. And the fillet makes an intriguingly different macropod version of classic dishes like 'beef stroganoff' or 'fondue bourguignonne', where you use quick cooking, not slow stewing.

Last night David made an absolutely delicious and easy dish of his own invention using kangaroo fillet, onions and garlic, sour cream, mustard, and tarragon(illustrated). The fragrant and lusciously-textured sauce seemed to highlight the juicy tenderness of the fillet. With a salad entree, home-made thick-cut chips made from potatoes freshly dug in the garden, newly-picked cauliflower steamed and buttered and herbed--and the remains of the Pithiviers pie for dessert!--it made a fantastic and very frangourou meal!

Here's how to make it(it should be cooked just before you're ready to sit down to eat--vegs etc should be prepared before it, this isn't a dish that should hang around):

Kangaroo fillet.

One onion, finely chopped.

One or two cloves garlic, crushed.

Olive oil.


Some chopped tarragon.

1 teaspoon Dijon mustard.

1 tablespoon sour cream.

Salt, pepper.

Fry the onions and garlic in a little olive oil and butter till golden and soft. Remove from pan and add kangaroo fillet, adding more butter and oil if needed. Cook only for about 1 min each side if you like rare, more if you don't. Take steak out of pan, sprinkle with salt and pepper. Add cream and mustard to the pan, quickly stir so that it cooks through, add onions and garlic, then fillet. Serve immediately with chopped tarragon on top.

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