When you think of meat, what image comes to mind? A thick, juicy steak? A succulent burger? A Sunday roast, perhaps?
Though these everyday dishes remain popular, the ever-expanding palettes of consumers and the environmental concerns of sourcing common meats have led to an explosion of new meats becoming available on the market. Crocodile fillet, anyone?
Sounds outlandish, doesn’t it? Well, if recent food trends are anything to go by, the more adventurous a meal is, the more heads are likely to turn.
In this guide, we look at five exotic types of meat that can provide some variety to your menu and help you stay a cut above the competition.
While this meat isn’t exactly “new” to gourmet burger aficionados, wild boar is fast becoming an attractive alternative to pork in restaurants and supermarkets all over Britain.
Though similar to pork in terms of taste and texture (as well as how it’s prepared), wild boar has less saturated fats and a good deal less cholesterol than standard swine. It’s also sweeter and nuttier than pork and more reddish in colour.
Wild boar’s delicious, intense taste make it the perfect companion to a range of flavours, including apple, cranberry, fennel, sage, pepper, cumin and red wine. Though it is most commonly served as burgers or sausages, more experimental recipes such as wild boar ragù with fresh pasta are starting to appear on menus.
If you’re after the real deal, it’s best to import your wild boar from Europe. In the UK, most of “wild” boar meat that’s sold is actually from farmed feral pigs, meaning the meat is lighter in colour than genuine wild boar and isn’t as flavoursome or nutritional. Wild boars from Eastern Europe are free to roam the forests and eat a much more varied diet than their domesticated cousins — giving the meat greater flavour and nutrients.
Goats are mostly associated with milk and cheese in European cuisine, but there’s a lot more to this animal than just dairy. With a savoury taste, tender texture and a bucket full of nutritional value, goat meat is fast becoming a go-to for chefs with a finger on the pulse.
Though we don’t often eat it in the UK, goat meat is actually the most widely eaten meat in the world. On closer inspection, it’s not hard to see why. This prize meat contains fewer calories than beef or chicken, as well as less fat and cholesterol. To get the most out of goat, it requires low heat and slow cooking to preserve its tenderness and moisture. Goat-derived products include goat burgers, diced goat leg, goat chops and goat mince.
Once on the plate, goat tastes similar to lamb. It’s particularly popular in curried form — a staple of Indian, Southeast Asian and Caribbean cuisines.
If you needed another reason to put goat meat on your menu, it’s also a sustainable option because goats feed on grass instead of grains. Buying goat products supports the dairy industry, too.
This may come as a surprise to many, but ostrich meat looks nothing like other birds. Turkey or chicken it ain’t. Instead of resembling other poultry, the meat of this flightless giant is actually cherry red in colour — slightly darker than raw beef.
Taste-wise, ostrich is similar to steak, though it can dry out when cooked due to its low fat content. Make sure to marinade the meat really well to avoid this. Always serve medium rare rather than well done.
This avian red meat is healthy, too. Low in cholesterol, fat and calories — especially compared to beef — ostrich meat offers a healthy serving of B vitamins that are key to good metabolism.
Though this will be familiar to Australian readers, kangaroo meat remains rare in the UK except in a handful of high-end eateries.
But what does it taste like? Imagine a strong-flavoured meeting point between venison and bison and you’re halfway there. Like ostrich, kangaroo meat can sometimes be dry and gamey so it’s important to marinade it well and cook quickly.
For chefs wanting to know how to incorporate it into their menu, kangaroo is an excellent substitute for beef — and it’s much healthier too. With low saturated fat, high protein, and packed with rich iron, zinc, and omega 3, this lean red meat will give you a spring in your step.
It’s worth noting that concerns over kangaroo hunting practices caused Lidl to pull the food from its shelves in 2018. If you plan to use kangaroo meat in your kitchen, check that the product has been ethically sourced.
This one’s got plenty of bite. Lean, tender and juicy, crocodile meat is high in protein but low in fat. It’s got a familiar, flavour-packed taste, similar to chicken, pork, crab and everything in between. That’s why restaurants are quick to snap it up.
Many parts of these prehistoric predators can be eaten, including the jaw, tenderloin, tail and ribs. As for how to prepare and cook it, that’s largely up to your culinary imagination. Crispy pan-fried crocodile tail, crocodile fillets and skewered crocodile with lime and ginger sauce are all delicious ways to make your crocodile rock.
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