Pan-fried ostrich with thyme, mashed potato and curried spinach

This was one of those evenings where I played the “lets see if I can use up all the strange little odds and ends I have in my kitchen” game. Look, I know it’s not the new scrabble, but it’s a decent way to spend an evening if you’ve got a good bottle of red hanging around. A quick word about ostrich – it’s totally my absolute favourite meat: ridiculously full of flavour (I mean seriously…) and it just gives and gives and gives. You hardly have to put any work into it at all – it’s almost like the cow at the Restaurant at the end of Universe that’s designed to be enthusiastic about being eaten – ostrich is just desperate to be awesome, which is why in this recipe I’ve done hardly anything to it except cook it.

Please excuse the wanky balsamic decoration - I have no idea what came over me...
Please excuse the wanky balsamic decoration - I have no idea what came over me...

Ingredients

For the curried spinach:

1 small red onion (finely chopped)
1 5cm piece of fresh ginger (finely chopped)
1 clove of garlic (finely chopped)
3 tsp of turmeric
2 tsp of cumin (finely ground in a pestle & mortar)
2 tsp of chili powder (if you prefer less heat, don’t change the amount – just use a slightly less intense chili)
1 tsp of garam masala
1 tsp of brown sugar
The juice of half a lemon
Two handfuls of roughly-chopped spinach
Butter
Salt and pepper

For the ostrich:

1 or 2 Ostrich fillets (depending on how hungry you are)
4 tbsp of fresh thyme
Salt and pepper

For the Mash

3 or 4 fist-sized potatoes (peeled)
Olive oil
Milk
1 egg
1 tspn Hot English Mustard
Salt

In some olive oil, fry the onions, ginger and garlic in a largish pot until softened and really fragrant. Before they start to lose too much moisture, remove from the heat, and either using a hand-held blending stick or a conventional blender, whiz it up into a smooth paste. Add the turmeric, cumin, chili, garam masala, sugar and lemon juice and combine thoroughly. Now, spoon two to three tablespoons of this mix over the spinach and mix it in. It’s important to cover the spinach lightly – you don’t need to go overboard here, a little of this paste really goes a long way. Any remaining curry paste can be put in a tupperware and stored in the fridge where it’ll keep very nicely for a week, or of course frozen indefinitely.  Set the spinach aside.

Rub the ostrich fillet with the fresh thyme so that it’s good and worked into the fiber of the flesh, season with salt and pepper and then set aside.

Boil the potatoes in salted water for about 45 minutes or until soft. Drain all the water out, replace the lid of the pot and let the potatoes steam for about 10 to fifteen minutes.

Put a ridged pan on a high heat and get it good and hot, then fry the steaks (1 and a half minutes a side for rare, longer for medium to well-done).

In a separate pan melt a largish knob of butter, and just when it’s starting to bubble, add the spinach. Now this is the trick, you need to cook it for just long enough for the spinach to soften and start to absorb those lovely rich curried flavours, but not so long that it wilts and becomes a mush. You want the spinach to retain a bit of its freshness and crunch. About two to three minutes on a high heat should do the trick.

To the potatoes add the olive oil, salt, pepper, a splash of milk, the egg and the teaspoon of English mustard and the mash it all up until creamy.

Whoohoo.

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