Thousands of camels were imported into Australia between 1840 and 1907 to be used as transport in this country’s vast arid inland regions. In the 1920’s there were estimated to be 20,000 domesticated animals here, but by 1930, improved rail and motor transport made them redundant and they were released into the bush, where they bred prolifically. The estimated population of one million feral camels in 2009 (and increasing by 10% each year) has a major impact on outback Australia’s native vegetation. Australia has the only wild population of one humped camels in the world.
So, what’s my point? This is a food blog after all. My point is, with all these camels roaming the country, eating native vegetation, damaging waterways, knocking down fences, colliding with cars etc. why is it so hard to buy camel meat? Well, finally, after a year-long quest, a local butcher got in some camel mince and sausages. I missed out on the sausages this time, but there was one pack of mince left.
I’ve written elsewhere on this blog about a kangaroo and emu pie (Coat of Arms) and for the camel pie I used the same recipe, although I only cooked the camel in a pot for about 20 minutes before thickening it a bit with cornflower and filling the pie. A pie looks like a pie, so I didn’t bother with photos, it looked just like the other pie but without the coat of arms. I even resisted the temptation to bake humps into it or make it toe-shaped………….
Camel pie is good. I like strong flavoured pies and the camel meat has a gamey flavour without being overpowering. It is meant to be low in fat, but it had a fatty taste to it (not a bad thing). Was it worth the wait? Yes, although it wasn’t as good as the kangaroo and emu pie. I would certainly like to try the sausages, or some other cut of camel if it becomes available. And it might make an interesting burger.
Here’s something I hadn’t heard of last week. Then I watched an episode of Anthony Bourdains TV show ‘No Reservations’. He was in Uruguay, and judging by the amount of meat they eat there, it is where I should live, or at least visit. Anyway, the chivito sandwiches looked pretty good, so I googled a recipe and got into it. A trip to my new favourite butcher, Master Meats at Mooloolaba, and I had bacon and ham, both smoked on site and delicious, and grass fed eye fillet steaks from King Island. A couple of large white bread buns from the bakery next door and I was ready.
Bacon was cooked until crisp and then set aside. Steaks were about 2 cm thick, so I butterflied them and pounded them to under 1 cm thick before cooking for a couple of minutes on each side in the pan the bacon came out of. I also cooked onion, and fried eggs until the yokes just turned hard. Tomato sauce and mayonaise were mixed together and spread onto the bottom half of the bun, then lettuce was added. Next was the steak followed by 3 slices of bacon and a couple of slices of ham. Then the onion and sliced tomato were added and the lot was topped with sliced mozzarella and placed under a grill to melt the cheese. Then the egg was put on top, with more sauce and mayo, and the top of the bun put on.
As you can see, this was a big, full sandwich (really more what we would call a burger) and it was necessary to cut it in half to have any hope of eating it.
The combination of tastes were amazing, with the steak and ham complemented by the bacon (and what doesn’t taste nicer with bacon in it?) The sandwich was big, juicy, messy and extremely filling. An awesome meal, I can only imagine how nice real Uruguayan chivitos must be.
At Pacific Paradise on the Sunshine Coast I came across a bakery called Dough Fusion. They had quite a good selection of pies, so I tried their chunky steak which apparently was one of the best in Australia in 2008.
It was a very good pie, but a steak pie is a steak pie, there is only so far you can take it.
They also had a hamburger pie, called a Dough Fusion Royale, on the menu. I was intrigued, so I tried one.
The pie filling was basically a hamburger pattie with sauce and maybe some pickles in a pie. An interesting concept, but I think it could be done better. The pattie itself wasn’t fantastic, more like sausage roll filling than hamburger meat, and probably as a result of being cooked in pastry, it was a bit soggy. Overall, not a bad pie. I might try another one sometime.