So often I write about vegetables...how to grow them, how beautiful they can be in the garden, all about soil and climate then of course ideas for cooking them. But this is a post purely about the joy of meat; from the sea, the air and the land. To me, meat is another ingredient, like fruit or vegetables. Sometimes it is in my meal, sometimes not; just like carrots or beans or apples. When it is in my meal, it is served in equal portion size as any other part of the meal. Meat is no more or less the priority and I do not just cook vegetables to go with the meat; I aim to have a beautiful meal with whatever is at hand.
Tonight I cooked mussels, Thai style. The whole meal was outstandingly delicious, even if I do say so myself! I picked a big bok choy from my garden and cooked that in my favourite way. At the same time the basmati rice was slowly absorbing its cooking liquid. Then I assembled the Thai flavours and steamed the mussels. Once everything was done, I put the bok choy in a bowl, tipped over the mussels and liquid, serving the rice in a separate bowl, which is how I like it best.
When I was in France, everyone there told me how good French mussels were..... but dear friends in France, you have never tasted mussels like those that grow in southern Australia! French mussels are tiny, insignificant little things with barely a morsel of taste compared to Australian mussels. The mussels from Pt. Lincoln in SA deserve every bit of the accolade they get but tonight all other mussel meals were surpassed by these Tasmanian mussels!! Sure they were big, beautifully orange and full of body but the flavour.... oh la la la... burst out of every mouthful like no other I have ever had. My Thai style mussels have reached their pinnacle, after cooking them hundreds of times in dozens of places!
Next I want to tell you about roast lamb. It was Mothers' Day here on May 9th and I cooked myself a good family meal, roast leg of lamb with lots of roast veg. Compared to other parts of the world, lamb is cheap and plentiful in Australia. I paid $8 / kg for it, as part of a side of lamb I bought from the local butcher here in Cygnet. It was nice and tender, local although not organic, but not the tastiest lamb I have had. For me, however, the joy of eating lamb or goat is when I get to the bone. For days I make my way through the meat until finally the bone is revealed and I can wait no longer! I cut off any excess meat and leave that for another day, leaving just the bones and any meat still clinging to them. Then I pick it up in both hands and unceremoniously hoe into it with my teeth, sucking or pulling the marrow out of the cut end of the bone too. It is heaven.... but quite messy!
I find that I can go for days or even a week without meat and be perfectly happy but the day always comes when I can think of nothing more satisfying than cooking myself some meat. I believe humans should eat opportunistically, meaning in this day and age, eating what is in season, when it is available locally and to me I include meat in this, as cave dwellers would have. Lots... millions and millions of people either don't get a chance to eat meat or don't want to, for all sorts of reasons. I could no more not eat meat than not eat vegetables.
Lastly, tomorrow night I am going to cook mutton bird, which is still harvested by Aboriginal people in April. It is a small, dark-fleshed game bird found on islands off the coast of Tasmania. I saw them advertised for sale in Huonville and bought one, for $10, which seems like a lot for the size of it. I thought this recipe looked "interesting".....
4 skinned yolla, quartered
* 2 leeks, finely sliced
* 2 Tablespoon fresh ginger juice
* 200 g mushrooms, sliced
* 250 g jar of breakfast marmalade
* 125 m1 of whisky (Scotch, Irish or Welsh)
* freshly ground black peppercorns to taste
* ¼ cup of water
Gently sauté yolla pieces in deep saucepan until golden brown. Add leeks, ginger,
mushrooms, marmalade, whisky and a quarter cup of water. Simmer gently until
birds are glazed and tender.
Garnish with chopped chives. Serve with steamed potatoes. Serves 4.
Preferably I would not eat farmed meat at all and in South Australia this is possible as there is plenty of feral meat and a shop, Wild Oz, which sells almost exclusively the meat from these pests that ruin the soil and eat food meant for native animals. Here in Tasmania I have found wallaby and mutton birds which, although not feral, are wild and not farmed. It is hard with fish, unless you go fishing yourself but generally speaking I buy the cheapest, local fish of the day.
There is a rabbit living under my house.... yum, I haven't had rabbit for ages!