As my november’ly share of the flu is slowly fading, my poor nose turned-glow-in-the-dark finally isn’t visible from out of space anymore and my tastebuds are picking up their work again, I think the right time has come to kickstart my system as well as my kitchen with something healthy and quick to make, something seasonal and packed with enough aromas to bring back the last stubborn tastebuds from their goo-induced slumber.
When I thought about what to pair a bunch of mushrooms with, for some reason ostrich steaks seemed like a very good idea – is an ostrich a good metaphor for me getting back on my feet, or am I imagining things? Well, for whatever reason, the bird decided to pop up in my head at the mention of food and ended up on our menu for the day, which answered the “how” of the mushrooms in the blink of an eye. Here’s one of my favorite ostrich-pairings~!
1 Tbsp Olive Oil
1 Shallot, finely chopped
1 Clove of Garlic, very finely chopped
175-220g Ostrich Fillet Steaks – This birds fillet steaks are pretty small, usually around 85-100g per piece, keep that in mind in case you wish to up or down the amounts.
Salt and freshly cracked Black Pepper to taste
1) Place a heavy-based pan on medium-high heat.
2) Add the the olive oil and give it about 2-3 mins to heat up before adding the shallot cubes – give them a good stir and fry them for 3-4 mins until they turn glossy and tender.
3) Have the garlic join the shallot for 1 min, then use a spatula to nudge the lot to the outer rim of the pan.
4) Dust the ostrich with a generous pinch of salt and place the pieces in the de-onioned middle of your pan along with the butter.
5) Turn them after 1 min, brush them with a few drops of the onion-scented butter-oil mix gathering inside your pan after the flip. Continue the turn-and-baste-routine in 30 sec intervals until the steaks are wonderfully golden-brown and crispy all around. This will take around 3-5 mins, depending on the thickness of the steaks in front of you.
Ostrich is a bit unpredictable if you’re going with the usual pressure test since it’s so lean and rather firm to begin with. I got it wrong twice – having poked them after around 2 mins into their pan-time, I could have sworn the steaks would end up as bone-dry bricks, perfectly capable of breaking teeth or leaving steak-sized holes in the floor, should I drop one of them… I was wrong, of course, they actually turned out to be a bit undercooked. A quick bath in the upcoming sauce and that problem was taken care of – the second time, however, I kept them in the pan for only 2-3 flips longer and, by doing so, ruined them completely. For the record: Overcooked or “well done” ostrich steaks are… inedible. Stringy, an almost grainy feel to the uncomfortably dry strands of meat topped with a really odd aftertaste. Maybe the weird taste was caused by a kink in quality, but it hasn’t occurred again since I took the hint pointing into the general direction of my meat probe – which I’ve been using for ostrich ever since that day. 56°C and 5 mins of rest beneath a blanket of aluminum foil, which will take the temperature to 58-60°C, will net you the perfectly medium, rosé steak.
6) Pick up the steaks, place them on a warm plate and sprinkle them with a good crack of pepper before tucking them in under aluminum foil.
7) Set them aside to rest for 5 mins, and take care of the sauce in the meantime.
The Pomegranate-Shallot Reduction
150ml dry Red Wine
50ml Pomegranate Syrup
1) Deglaze the pan you’ve just used for the ostrich with the wine and syrup. While whirling up all of the yummy roasting aromas, make sure to include the shallots and garlic you’ve so unceremoniously shoved to the sidelines earlier into the fun.
2) Turn the heat to high and bring the lot to a bubble, then reduce the heat to low and leave it to simmer down and reduce to about ½ the amounts you started with.
3) This won’t take longer than 3-4 mins, so have an eye on the pan!
4) Take the pan off the heat and whisk in the butter until the sauce comes together in a smooth and silky coat for your ostrich.
5) If you want to get rid of the remaining cubelets of onion that haven’t succumbed to your whisk, give the sauce a quick whizz with a stick blender… Since there’s not really a lot of it, I always spare myself the effort and potentially sprinkly makeover.
The Warm Mushroom Salad
2 Tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil
3 Tbsp Balsamic Vinegar
1 Tsp Honey
½ Tsp dried Thyme Leaves
500g Mixed Mushrooms – Chanterelles, Redcaps, King Oysters, Button Mushrooms… mix and match to your heart’s content!
2 Shallots, finely chopped
2 Tbsp fresh Chives, very finely chopped
100g Lambs Lettuce
Salt and Pepper to taste
1) Place the thyme, honey, oil and vinegar in a large mixing bowl and whisk the lot until the honey is well incorporated into the liquids. Fold in the chives and set the bowl aside for the time being.
2) Heat the butter in a heavy-based pan set on medium-high heat.
3) Pop in the mushrooms and shallots and sautée them for about 3 mins until they start to take on a golden-brown roast’y color.
4) Turn the heat down to medium, cover the pan with a lid and leave the lot to cook for 4-5 until the mushrooms are yumliciously tender. If you use a quick stir every other minute as an excuse to have a test-bite, you wont be able to miss the mark.
5) Take the lid off after 3 mins to keep the evaporating moisture from dripping back into the pan, turning the mushrooms soggy in the process.
6) Drizzle the mushrooms with 2-3 Tbsp of the dressing while they’re still in the hot pan, sprinkle them with a generous pinch of salt and pepper and give them a hearty flip to distribute the dressing throughout.
7) Toss the lettuce leaves with remaining dressing in your mixing bowl and get ready to plate up~
Assembling the Dish
1) Divide the lamb’s lettuce onto 2 plates.
2) Thinly slice the ostrich and arrange the slices around the leaves.
3) Brush the slices with the pomegranate reduction.
4) Top the lettuce with the warm mushroom and drizzle the servings with any liquids remaining in your pan and mixing bowl.