Don’t mind Skippy, but kangaroo meat is actually a great source of lean protein. Well, the Indigenous Australians already knew this when they landed on the Australian continent some 40,000 years ago, but then the dogs got in first before we humans finally caught up (kangaroo meat has been used as dog food for some time). The recent years have seen kangaroo meat pop up on the menus of a range of venues – chefs like Jock Zonfrillo of Orana and Kylie Kwong have long been fans of the ‘roo, but we’ve also spotted it recently in a gourmet burger joint in Milan. So what’s the deal with the kangeroo?
The kangaroo is found only in Australia and as it happens, is also a national symbol of the country. It’s not been easy for this tasty red meat to shake off it’s image as a substandard meat for pet food. After all, it was only in 1993 that most Australian states legalised kangaroo meat for human consumption, South Australia being the first to do so in 1980.
It has definitely taken some time to change the perception of Australians in eating a national emblem, but changes are on foot. Many now consider kangaroo meat as a healthy source of lean protein, but also a sustainable meat due to the highly regulated nature of its harvest that keeps a close eye on kangaroo populations (which in 2016, there were roughly 45 million kangaroos, giving it a ratio of 3:1 for kangaroos to humans in Australia).
Now readily available at supermarkets in the country and exports growing, many are trying this somewhat exotic red meat alongside their regular cooking repertoire. The advantage of kangaroo meat is that it is naturally organic, with most kangaroo meat sold in Australia and exported overseas being from kangaroo caught in an open range environment where the animals graze on natural pastures and Australian bush. This kind of wild caught meat is free from antibiotics, growth hormones or other chemicals that typically characterise commercially harvested meat.
In terms of taste, kangaroo has a stronger flavour than commercially raised meats, but is similar to lean beef. Minced kangaroo meat can substitute beef entirely or part thereof, and depending on the cut, kangaroo can be suited to slow cooking such as a stew or even rare, like carpaccio.
Nutritional Value of Kangaroo Meat
Kangaroos are active animals and therefore result in a lean red meat that is high in iron, protein, zinc, omega 3 fatty acids, B vitamins, whilst being low in fat (around 2%). Studies have shown that in addition to these nutritional qualities, kangaroo meat contains a high concentration of conjugated linoleic acid (CLA) – a type of omega-6 fatty acid – compared with other foods.
Recipes with Kangaroo Meat
Kangaroo can easily replace any red meat in a range of recipes from quick wok stir fries to slow braised stews. As you would with beef, choosing the right cut for the relevant cooking method is key, and will greatly affect the outcome of any recipe.
An average steak cut should be cooked for just 4-5 minutes on each side for medium-rare, to follow up with 10 minutes of resting time covered in foil as you would with any meat, to allow for the juices to redistribute within the meat. One thing you don’t want to do is to overcook it – kangaroo cuts tend to be super lean and a medium-rare finish will create the ideal texture for most dishes.
Here are a few recipe ideas for you to try with kangaroo meat.
Cook kangaroo as you would the beef in this recipe, searing the fillet for a couple of minutes on the pan and transferring to a hot oven to cook through to a pinky medium-rare finish. Try it with our recipe for port shallots, creamy celeriac and potato gratin, or create a vegetable medley of your own choice.
Replace kangaroo with the beef in this healthy recipe for carpaccio with avocado and walnuts. Remember to place the kangaroo fillet in the freezer for an hour ahead, which makes it easier to handle and makes for neat, thin slices. If you prefer, transform it into a light appetiser by omitting the bread and arranging the kangaroo carpaccio directly onto the plate.
Roo meat works great in stir fry recipes. Try kangaroo fillet in this recipe replacing the beef, for an easy dinner that will come together in less than 20 minutes.