Ancho Chili-glazed Ostrich with Smoked Onion Relish
Ostrich is truly the "other red meat," a low-cholesterol poultry that looks and tastes like very lean beef, with fewer calories, lower fat -- especially saturated fat -- and much lower cholesterol. Once wild, the 250-pound, 7-foot high ostrich is now farm raised. Fresh ostrich meat is still rare but frozen fillets are becoming more widely available at gourmet supermarkets and meat markets. Like venison and other lean meats, ostrich should be cooked quickly. Overcooking makes it tough. The ancho glaze created by Chef Waidner may be used with pork, poultry, and beef. Unused glaze may be frozen for later use. Dried chipotles are smoked, dried jalapenos, available in Latin markets and
by mail order from southwestern food companies. And, oh yes, fire up your grill because Waidner is a chef who's not home on the range. The Weber Grill Restaurant uses nothing but Webers to cook with. He sears food directly over hot coals on either side of his huge Webers, then cooks it slowly indirectly: in the middle of the grill, over the drip pan and with the cover on.
- Fresh ostrich thigh meat - 1 pound, or three 6-ounce packages of frozen ostrich fillet
- Ancho Chili Glaze - 2 cups (recipe follows)
- Spanish Onions - 2 to 3 large, peeled
- Olive Oil - as needed
- Green Onions - 1 bunch, cleaned, trimmed, sliced on the bias
- Cilantro - 1 tablespoon, chopped
- Juice of 1 lime
- Extra Virgin Olive Oil - 1/4 cup
- Balsamic Vinegar - 1 tablespoon
- Seasoning Salt - (recipe follows) to taste
- Hickory wood chips - 2 to 3 cups, soaked for 30 minutes, drained
In a large, shallow non-reactive baking dish, marinate ostrich fillets in Ancho Chili Glaze, turning to coat on both sides. Cover, refrigerate, and marinate overnight.
Two hours before cooking ostrich, prepare grill and make Onion Relish: Set up a 22-1/2-inch diameter kettle-type grill by placing 25 charcoal briquettes on each side of a drip pan placed in the center. Ignite coals and allow to burn until coals have a coating of gray ash, about 30 minutes. Bottom vents should be open. Every hour that you cook, add 8 coals to each side of the grill and allow them to ash over.
Place a handful of soaked hickory chips on either side of the grill over the ready coals. Place grate on grill. Brush onions with olive oil and place them in the center over the drip pan. Cover the grill and , with the top vents halfway open, slowly smoke the onions until cooked and tender, about 45 to 50 minutes. Remove from grill and refrigerate to chill. When cool enough to handle, peel outer layer and discard. Slice onions and place in a bowl. Add the green onions, cilantro, lime juice, 1/4 cup of olive oil, and balsamic vinegar. Toss well and season to taste with Seasoning Salt. Reserve.
Add coals to grill and let ash over. Sprinkle another handful of soaked hickory chips over coals. Sear ostrich fillets directly over coals, turning once. Then place in the middle of the grill (not over coals), cover and cook indirectly until ostrich is medium rare, 15 to 20 minutes. If desired, bring ancho chili glaze from marinade pan to a boil, cook for 15 minutes, then baste ostrich with glaze during cooking. Allow the ostrich to rest before slicing.
To serve: Slice ostrich thinly against the grain. Divide slices and arrange among four dinner plates. Top with some of the Onion Relish. Heat a little of the reserved glaze that has not been used to marinate or baste ostrich, and drizzle around the plate.
Ancho Chili Glaze
Makes 6 cups
4 ounces dried ancho chilies, about 10 chilies
1 ounce dried chipotle chilies, about 6 to 8 small chipotles
1-1/2 quarts hot water
2 cups chopped yellow onions
1 head of garlic, cloves separated and peeled
2 cups brown sugar, packed
1/3 cup honey
1/4 cup unsulphured molasses
1/4 cup tomato paste
Split ancho chilies, stem, and scrape out seeds and veins. Grill seeded chilies on a flat skillet or grill for a few seconds on each side, pressing down with a spatula, just until chilies change color. Place toasted ancho chilies in a large bowl.
Split chipotles, stem, scrape out seeds and veins. Add to toasted ancho chilies in the bowl. Pour in hot water. Top with a plate to weight down chilies and soak for 30 minutes to soften.
Meanwhile, place onions, garlic, brown sugar, honey, molasses and tomato paste in the food processor and process, pulsing and scraping down sides, until onions and garlic are pureed. Scrape this mixture into a large, 4-quart saucepan.
Using a fine-meshed sieve, strain chili soaking water into saucepan, reserving 2 cups. Place the 2 cups of reserved soaking water and the soaked chilies in the food processor and process to a smooth puree. Place puree in the sieve over the saucepan and press down with a ladle or large spoon to extract solids, scraping outside of sieve. Discard chili skins. Stir to mix ingredients in saucepan. Bring to a boil, stirring constantly to prevent burning. Reduce to a simmer over very low heat and simmer until flavors are blended, garlic and onion are completely cooked, and glaze has reduced. Remove from heat and transfer to a bowl, stirring to cool. Unused glaze may be refrigerated for 4 days or frozen for later use.
Makes about 1/4 cup
2 tablespoons kosher salt
2 teaspoons dried thyme
1 teaspoon sweet Hungarian paprika
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon onion powder
1 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
Mix all ingredients and grind in a mortar and pestle or spice grinder