Father's Day is rolling around once more, and once June weather is combined with dads, a barbecue seems inevitable. What to get for the father who loves to grill and already has everything he needs? Consider presenting him with some of the increasingly more obtainable red meats, and let him meet a new grilling challenge. Not only are these meats a subtly different taste experience but they are far healthier than beef, with their low fat content and lower cholesterol.
Poultry has entered the red-meat category with the rising popularity of Muscovy duck, the breast of which is often sold as "magret." What makes these ducks different is their much lower fat content, due to the breed’s having come from the warmer climate of South America. The breast meat is 99-percent lean (lower in fat than turkey), and unlike traditional poultry, it is handled like a steak. When grilling magret, first marinate overnight (if desired) or use a spice rub. Then grill over hot coals, skin side up, until meat is lightly browned. Turn to skin side down and cook covered for 10 to 20 minutes, depending on doneness desired. (Meat should still be pink inside.) Just before removing from the grill, take off the cover and allow the flame to crisp the skin. Alternatively, the skin may be removed and the meat seared over hot coals, as you would a good beef steak, and served rare.
ANOTHER BIRD TO FALL under the red-meat category is ostrich. Easy to find in the freezer section of local grocery stores, this lean meat is well-suited to the high heat and brief cooking of a grill. Very much like beef in taste, the low-fat burgers and steaks can be treated much the same as their beef counterparts. Ostrich, however, has fewer than half the calories of beef and is higher in protein, allowing steak-loving fathers on restricted diets to indulge more often.
More and more deer farms are springing up around the United States. Some farms raise the European fallow deer, but there are white-tail deer farms now, too. The advantage of farm-raised venison is that it doesn't have the gamey flavor of its wild counterpart, which some people find objectionable. Instead, it has a delicate, sweet flavor more reminiscent of lamb or veal.
Commonly, the deer farms raise their animals free-range on organic feed and do not use antibiotics or steroids on the animals. Inexpensive venison burgers can be found at Trader Joe’s throughout Northern Virginia and provide an interesting alternative to ground round. Once Dad tries these burgers, he may decide a trip to Deauville Fallow Deer Farm in Basye, Va., is in order.
BUFFALO IS QUICKLY BECOMING a strong contender against beef. Virginia's family-owned Georgetown Farm distributes nationally to Trader Joe’s, Fresh Fields and Sutton Gourmet grocery stores. That makes buffalo burgers relatively inexpensive and easy to come by. Like venison and ostrich, buffalo is very low in fat content, and even with burgers, care must be taken not to overcook it. Georgetown Farm also raises its animals free-range without the use of growth hormones, steroids or stimulants, and no artificial ingredients are used. The difference in taste between buffalo and run-of-the-mill store beef will be immediately apparent to any lover of a rare steak.
The one difference to keep in mind with all of these meats is not to overcook them. Since they do not have the marbling that's present in a good beefsteak, they tend to cook much faster. That means well-done isn't recommended, as it results in a dry, chewy consistency, spoiling the flavor of the meat.
WHEN SHOPPING FOR BEEF ALTERNATIVES for
Dad, don't overlook the sausages available, either. Wild boar, again far leaner and more flavorful than its domestic counterpart, can be found in gourmet groceries in sausage form. Try grilling thick slices of sharp-tasting apples, such as Granny Smith or Macintosh, along with it. Serve the grilled sausage and apples with crusty, rustic
bread and slices of good aged cheddar, with plenty of micro-brewed beer. Both buffalo and venison are also frequently made into sausage. These enjoy the same quick cooking as any other form of those meats and make for something just a little bit different from bratwurst and kielbasa.
Locally, Blackwing ostrich steaks and burgers can be purchased from Fresh Fields and Gourmet Giant grocery stores, where the steaks and fillets run $5.99 for six ounces. Ground ostrich and patties run approximately $3.99 for eight ounces. D'artagnan Muscovy duck breast can be found at Sutton Gourmet, retailing there for $13.99 a pound, and at Fresh Fields in the specialty-meat freezer section. Georgetown ground buffalo can be purchased at Fresh Fields, $5.99 for 16 ounces; a two-pound box of eight burgers for $11.99 at Sutton Gourmet; and in burger form at Trader Joe’s, $4.79 for 16 ounces (four burgers). One-hundred-percent venison burgers can be had at Trader Joe’s for $5.79 a 16-ounce (four-burger) package. Fresh Fields also has Chateau Royal wild boar sausage and two kinds of buffalo sausage, all at $7.99 for a 12-ounce package.
THERE ARE NUMEROUS Web sites where these
meats can be ordered as well. Georgetown Farm, located at the foot of the Blue Ridge mountains, sells every cut of buffalo imaginable, including sausages and liver, on its Web site at http:// www.eatlean.com, or it can be reached at 1-888-EAT-LEAN. The Deauville Fallow Deer Farm, located in Basye in the Shenandoah Valley, sells venison (including homemade jerky) from a store at the farm. Directions and information can be found at http://home.rica.net/ dwinstanley/deerfarm /. Listings of both deer and elk farms, including phone numbers and Web sites, countrywide can be found at http://www.deerfarm.com/usfarms.shtml. Ostrich meat, recipes and information can be seen at http:// usaostrichproducts.com, and Muscovy duck can be ordered at http:// www.grimaud.com/duck.htm along with a wealth of information and recipes.
<sh>Pil chickamin Sauce
<lst>This sweet, tangy sauce with a hint of spice goes very nicely with the new red meats. Left thick, it makes a great substitute for ketchup on venison burgers.
1 tablespoon butter
1 small onion, diced
1 6-ounce can tomato paste
1/2 cup no-sugar-added applesauce
2 teaspoons dry mustard
1 teaspoon cinnamon
Dash each ground nutmeg and cloves
1-2 gloves garlic, minced (NOT
Cracked black pepper to taste
2 tablespoons soy, tamari or hoison
1/4 cup cider vinegar
2 tablespoons maple syrup
Hard cider or applejack for thinning
Melt butter over low heat in a 1-quart saucepan and slowly cook onion until semicaramelized. (Onion will disintegrate and be golden brown.) While onion is cooking, blend together tomato paste and applesauce. Stir in remaining ingredients, except for the hard cider or applejack. Add this mixture to saucepan and simmer, uncovered, for about 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. Thin with hard cider or applejack, as desired.