Kangaroo Loin with Mushroom Sauce

Notice those lovely fried morels on top! I foraged those in Arkansas earlier this week and needed a VERY special dish to serve them with.

**PLEASE NOTE**  A video on how to make this dish is located at the bottom of this recipe!

Yes, yes…you’re shocked and a bit disgusted that I’ve posted a kangaroo recipe.  Folks…kangaroo is the venison of Australia.  It’s their most common game meat.  It jumps into the road in the middle of the night and destroys your car, just like a deer.  It is hunted with guns, bows and arrows, and traps, just like deer.  And kangaroo meat is absolutely superb…when properly prepared…just like venison.  Kangaroos are herbivores with chambered stomachs, just like cattle, sheep, and deer, and their meat is astonishingly similar thanks to their diet of grass and weeds.  And since I am on the shortlist for Tourism Australia’s Best Job in the World…”TasteMaster” of Western Australia…I figured this would be a very appropriate recipe for me to share this week.

Notice this label is in both Dutch and French!

But first of all, where do you even get kangaroo meat?  I source mine from Arrowhead Specialty Meats right here in my hometown.  While you’re not likely to run across it in your grocery store, most specialty meat markets carry kangaroo and will sell directly to the public (though their primary customer base is restaurants).  So just Google your city name or zip code, plus “specialty meats” or “game meats” and you’ll find one.  Or ask the chef as your favorite gourmet restaurant where he gets his unusual meats, and he’ll be happy to tell you.

Kangaroo meat, just like venison, is incredibly lean…as lean as a boneless skinless chicken breast.  This means that, if you like red meat, but are watching your saturated fat and cholesterol intake, kangaroo could be a lifesaver for you!  However, this almost complete lack of intramuscular fat means that it can be challenging to cook kangaroo meat and end up with a juicy, tender cut of meat.  The leg meat is unsuitable for pretty much anything but long, slow braising, or grinding into sausage.  The loin, however, is a different story!  It runs along either side of the spine and doesn’t get nearly the exercise that the legs do.  This is where the “filet mignon” is cut from beef.  So look for kangaroo loin, and you’ve got an outstanding cut of meat.

The first step I take with ALL game meats is to brine them.  Brining ensures juicy, perfectly seasoned meat.  For up to 4 kangaroo loins, make half a gallon of brine in a gallon-sized pitcher or big bowl:

2 quarts water
3/4 cup kosher salt
1/4 cup sugar
handful of ice cubes

Stir with a whisk until the sugar and salt are completely dissolved.  Place the loins into the brine, and keep in the fridge for 2-3 hours.  Remove the loins and discard the brine.  On a big plate, combine:

1/2 cup all purpose flour
2 Tablespoons powdered garlic
2 Tablespoons coarsely ground black pepper

There’s no need for salt, because the meat is already perfectly seasoned.  Dredge the loins in the seasoned flour.

Preheat the heaviest cast iron skillet you have over high heat until the pan is screaming hot.  Open your windows and turn on your vent fan.  Into the skillet, put:

2 Tablespoons canola oil
2 Tablespoons unsalted butter

Add the loins, one at a time, searing for about 60 seconds on each side, until each loin is nicely browned all over.  Remove them to a pan and let them rest.

Preheat the oven to 325F and place the rack in the center of the oven.

Into the empty skillet over medium high heat, add:

1 pound sliced mushrooms (any kind)

Unless your skillet is massive, it’s best to saute the mushrooms in batches so that they’re not crowded in the pan.  This allows them to brown and develop flavor.  Season them sparingly with salt when they are in the pan…this helps them give up their water so you get lots of flavor building up in the pan.  Once all your mushrooms are nicely browned, remove them from the skillet, reduce the heat to medium, and add:

a bit of olive oil
2 shallots, minced

When the shallots begin to take on a little caramel color around the edges, add:

1 cup white wine

Scrape the bottom of the pan as the wine reduces, and once it is almost evaporated, add:

4 cups chicken stock (preferably unsalted)

Return the heat to high and boil rapidly until the stock is reduced by half.  While the stock is reducing, place a probe thermometer in the thickest part of the kangaroo loin.  If you are cooking several loins of differing sizes, put the thermometer into the smallest loin.  Place them into the 325F oven and roast until the internal temperature reaches 120F.  Remove them from the oven and let them rest for at least 10 minutes before removing the thermometer or cutting them, or else they’ll lose all their juices.

(Now let’s chat about internal temp for a second.  NO game meat should EVER be cooked beyond medium rare, because they don’t have enough fat to keep them moist once the meat is cooked through.  Brining definitely helps, but I still recommend serving kangaroo loin no doner than medium rare.  Pulling the meat at 120F will land you somewhere between rare and medium rare by the time the meat has finished “coasting.”  Pull it at 115F if you like it rare, let it go to 125F if you want it between medium rare and medium.  Anything beyond 130F I would consider inedible, but for those who get really squeamish about pink meat, you can take it that for, or farther…just explain to your guests that they’ll be supping upon kangaroo boots for dinner.)

Make a “beurre manie,” a fancy French term for equal parts of butter and flour, by mashing together:

2 Tablespoons all purpose flour
2 Tablespoons unsalted butter

Just smoosh them with a fork until they are completely mixed into a thick paste.  Once the chicken stock is reduced by half, lower the heat to medium and begin adding bits of the beurre manie, whisking constantly, until the sauce begins to thicken.  Return the mushrooms to the pan, reduce the heat to low, and let the sauce simmer for several minutes.  Keep the sauce warm until serving time.

When the loins have fully rested, cut them into slices and spoon the sauce on top.  And enjoy your very first taste of an incredible meat that, while very much like beef in terms of texture, has a mild and exotic flavor all its own.  You’ll be hooked!

Enjoy this little 10-minute video that shows you the process, step-by-step:

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