After I posted about the benefits of bison, my friend Erin recommended I try ostrich because, like bison, it is similar in taste to beef but much lower in fat. So I was thrilled to find emu for sale at the farmer’s market last Saturday. Not ostrich, but close enough! Since I already have 3 lbs. of ground bison in the freezer, I opted for the stew meat, which was $6.50 for a pound. I also bought a nice leg bone for Jessie. As you can see, they were also selling the egg shells and they also had the feathers & beauty products made from the rendered fat. I loved that they weren’t wasting any part of the animal.
Since I bought stew meat, I decided to make STEW of all things.
After thawing it out in the fridge, I put the meat into my crockpot from 1980 (seriously, it’s probably older than that) and dumped in all the broth I’d stockpiled in the freezer for the last six months–there was beef, turkey and chicken. I didn’t care–it all went in the same pot. I don’t cook meat a lot and I don’t cook a lot of it at once, so I didn’t have a ton of broth–it all added up to maybe four cups. I chopped up garlic, tarragon and sage from my Dad’s garden and added some fresh rosemary from the farmer’s market, set it on low and let it cook for 24 hours. In a normal crockpot, it would have been done in probably 8 but this is a crazy retro crockpot that cooks on super low and takes forever. Which is a good thing when it comes to low-fat meats like bison and emu–you want to cook them low and slow or they will get tough.
Today, after the meat had cooked 24 hours, I drained the broth off and put it in a stock pot. I turned it on high and dumped in chopped potatoes, carrots, onion & half of my package of baby portabellos with a teaspoon of salt. Oh, and some more fresh herbs–including oregano now that I have it, along with some dried thyme and basil. I forgot I had fresh basil. :(
After that cooked for ten minutes (turning it down to medium once it started to boil), I added in chopped red, green & yellow peppers, the rest of the shrooms, and chopped asparagus. After that cooked five minutes I stirred in some frozen peas, corn & green beans and a can of drained tomatoes. After stirring in the meat, it was time to eat!
I realize most people would have put the veggies in the crockpot along with the meat, but I never do this. I hate it when soup is all one color and looks dreary. I like my vegetables to be colorful and still have some life in them so I never leave the crockpot in charge when it comes to vegetables. With soups/stews, I usually put the slower cooking veggies in first, like potatoes and carrots, and quicker cooking veggies like peppers & tomatoes in at the end. I do cook the onions longer b/c I don’t care if they’re mush–they’re just there for flavor b/c you can’t see them anyway and cooking them longer renders the most flavor. And I divided the mushrooms b/c I wanted the flavor to really infuse the stew so I cooked half longer and half later so that they weren’t as “well done.” I like to add frozen veggies at the end so that they’re cooked with the residual heat of the stew while they’re cooling it down to a more acceptable temperature. The meat goes in last after the burner is off so that the amount of cooking time added to the meat is negligible.
I served the soup with the terrible dinner rolls I made last night. They’re really dense (I added too much flour) so they were perfect for sopping up the broth. It was the best stew I have ever had and I seriously couldn’t tell I wasn’t eating beef. Neither could Dennis. Slow-cooking made it perfectly tender, and we loved all the flavor-packed vegetables and the herbalicious aroma.
With all the vegetables I added, this made enough stew for six big servings, which is really stretching that pound of meat and making it worth every cent! Plus, preparing it the way I described, will give you a huge bowl for 271 calories! Now that’s the kind of meal I SHOULD be eating on a regular basis.