Old Favorite With a Bushveld Twist
After all the holiday indulgences, it’s good to whip out a healthy, tasty precooked meal. This is a simple dish to make, think cottage pie, but doesn’t “Ostrich Pie” sound exotic?
Heart-healthy and comfort food, all in one. Ostrich is farmed all over Southern Africa as a low fat and healthy alternative to beef. Surprisingly ostrich is a red meat, like beef, lamb and venison but with almost no fat and low cholesterol. You’re also avoiding the dangers of factory farmed animals loaded with antibiotics and growth hormones and who knows what else.
Ostrich can be substituted for beef in most recipes. But because the meat is milder in flavor, it works better when used in dishes with plenty of added flavoring like chili, curries, stir-fries, bolognaise or meatballs.
I keep a few frozen meals in the freezer for when cooking is just too much like hard or hot work and this ostrich pie is a dish that keeps well for several months. With the creamy mashed potato on top, all you need to add are some vegetables.
Ingredients – serves 4
- 4 rashers bacon, chopped
- 1 – 2 Tbs olive oil
- 1 medium onion, finely chopped
- 1 carrot, finely chopped
- ½ celery stalk, finely chopped
- 1 -2 cloves garlic, crushed
- 800g minced/ground ostrich meat
- 1 whole green pepper sliced
- ½ tsp thyme
- 2 Tbsp. flour
- ½ C red wine
- ½ C left-over coffee
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
- To bulk up if needed, add 1 cup cooked green lentils
- 1 batch mashed potatoes – four large potatoes, cooked and mashed with milk and butter and seasoned (set aside)
First make your mashed potatoes and put one side, in their pot until needed.
Brown the bacon in a large frying pan until well cooked and crumbly. Remove from pan and add the oil (to the bacon grease in the pan) and next four ingredients and stir fry until the veggies are starting to soften. Set the vegetable mixture aside with the bacon and add more oil if necessary. In the same pan, brown the ostrich meat over medium-high heat until light brown.
Return the bacon and vegetable mix to the pan, dust the thyme over the meat and vegetables, sprinkle with the flour and mix well. Add the wine and coffee and stir over moderate heat, scraping up any stuck bits on the bottom of the pan until the mixture is thick and smooth. Adjust the seasoning, adding salt and pepper.
Turn the ostrich mixture into a shallow baking pan (large enough to hold the meat and potatoes) and gently scoop the mashed potatoes over the meat, swirling with a fork to neaten. At this point, you can let the whole lot cool, wrap with foil and put in the freezer. Or, you can place the pan in a preheated moderate oven (180 degrees C) for half an hour or so, until browned and bubbly.
Now suppose you can’t get any ostrich meat where you live? I’ll let you in on a little secret – ostrich doesn’t taste all that different to ground topside or other minced beef – you’ll still get tasty results, it just won’t be ostrich pie – but I won’t tell if you don’t!
Give it a go; summer or winter, this is a healthy standby to have lurking in the freezer. And dinner can be cooking while you get on with more important things.