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Greek Marinated Slow Roast Wallaby

If you are a vegetarian, probably better if you click away now.  But if you eat meat, I’d be interested to hear what you think.

We hit a wallaby on the way home a little while ago.  It was just on dusk, right when the wallabies become most active, and it just jumped out right under the van.

We stopped.  We always stop. I can’t bear the thought of an animal dying slowly and painfully injured on the road.   But this was a clean hit on the head at speed on the main road.  A fully grown but fairly young male red neck – the most common species in my area – in good condition.

I think if you eat meat, you have to accept that an animal dies.  This wallaby had a good free range life, and everything  becomes food for something, one way or another. Throwing it off the road didn’t seem like valuing the life. So we took it home and my partner skinned and butchered it into roasting pieces while I made a marinade.

Wallaby is very very lean meat with muscles that have done some work.  In some ways the meat is like wild goat meat, and so the kind of methods used in the Mediterranean countries to cook goat work well – curries, tagines, khoresh, and long slow roasts. It was the Greek slow cooked goat shoulder last week that prompted this post in fact.

For the wallaby, I decided on a Greek-style marinated slow roast, and invited 15 people for dinner the next night.

The Recipe:

Cut the wallaby into large roasting pieces and put them in a plastic container with a lid.  For a large wallaby, or a kangaroo, an esky makes a good container.

For this wallaby I made three cups of marinade.  Adjust to size.

Blend together:

  • 2 cups olive oil
  • 1 cup lemon juice
  • 1 cup of fresh oregano, thyme, lemon thyme and rosemary (go easy on the rosemary and heavy on the oregano).
  • lots of garlic

Pour the marinade over, toss to coat every piece, and leave in the fridge or on ice for 24 hours.

Roasting:

To get to falling off the bone tender, it should roast for about 4 hours in a low oven, being basted every hour in the beginning and half hour at the end.

Spread the meat out in baking trays in a single layer.  I fitted it in two large baking trays.  Divide the marinade up and pour over.  Add a cup of water to each baking tray. Cover with a lid.

Cook in a medium-low oven for about 4 hours.  After an hour, using tongs turn the meat.  Repeat after another hour, then every half hour. Don’t let it dry out.

Depending on how tightly lidded your baking trays are, you may have to add more water, or, at the end, remove the meat and turn the oven up high to reduce the last of the liquid.  You should end up with falling off the bone meat in a very small amount of concentrated jus.

This wallaby served 15 people for dinner.  It was tender and lemony and not at all gamey.  The opposite end of the spectrum to the polystyrene trays that meat comes in at the supermarket, but it felt very honourable.

{ 8 comments… add one }
  • Lorelle December 15, 2016, 6:04 pm

    I really don’t know how I feel about this. I think it does honour the animal that it is utilised to feed a family, and if left on the roadside would do the same for other native animals, but I still have an old problem in my head of could I do this? I don’t think I could, as I’d be a mess of tears at having killed the critter in the first place. I think you have made a pragmatic decision and I applaud you for it.

  • LINDA TZANOS December 15, 2016, 7:03 pm

    Wallaby in a Greek marinade. Strange combo but comes together when you mention the goat. A gift from the gods…greek gods?

  • Jane December 16, 2016, 1:22 pm

    I don’t have a problem with anyone eating kangaroo or wallaby in the circumstances you described, as long as it was healthy. I might worry a bit about parasites. When I was a child in rural England we used to pick up fresh rabbits and hares that way. Your wallaby was better off than most lamb or beef etc. in that it’s death was quick, no terrible trip to the abattoir. The only other concern would be this news article.
    http://www.smh.com.au/national/kangaroo-meat-not-as-healthy-as-you-think-20130408-2hgyx.html

  • Linda December 16, 2016, 2:50 pm

    I think the slow cooking resolves the parasites issue. The one to worry about is rare meat (which some gourmets argue is how you should cook kanga) and toxoplasmosis, carried by cats. The L-carnitine issue I think is resolved by not eating wallaby or kanga at every meal. Luckily, we don’t hit that many of them 🙂

  • Jane December 16, 2016, 8:58 pm

    In the past I have eaten and enjoyed ox and lambs heart and also kidneys. Did you eat the wallaby offal? I don’t know if I would. Silly really as wallabies are herbivores like cattle and sheep.

  • Ruth December 18, 2016, 12:22 am

    I agree with your reasoning for eating the wallaby, and I admire anyone who knows how to do butchery. I wouldn’t know where to start, so I am dependant on those trays in the supermarket. I also have a sad memory of hitting a little roo with my car at dusk, it was injured but scrabbled off in to the bush and we couldn’t do anything for it. Maybe my New Years Resolution will be to try some of your kangaroo recipes.

  • Sue March 7, 2017, 12:12 pm

    Hi Linda

    I’ll get to the kangaroo thing in a bit, but first:

    How lovely to be able to say hello in (virtual) person on your blog. I’m originally from Europe where you could buy your milk direct from dairy farmers, raw and unprocessed and into your own re-usable pail, and nobody had conniptions about it, plus the dairy farmers taught us young children at the time how to hand milk, and how to handle cattle, and they let us brush them with dandy brushes (started when the travelling circus had left town and we could no longer brush their ponies). Also you could buy artisan cheeses direct from people’s kitchens without the awful over-regulation around that here which essentially makes it a secretive black-market item (small producers priced out of the market by the ridiculous “health” conditions and fees imposed when we have one of the healthiest dairy herds in the world in Australia and at the same time supermarkets and school canteens can legally sell food that is proven to make people sick).

    Anyway, saw Seymour’s classic (illustrated) text at age eight and decided that’s one thing I really wanted to do in life. No help from my parents when I was growing up even when we moved to Australia onto a “farm” (actually a feedlot, in practical terms) – my milking goat (a concession to my allergies rather than sustainability and self-sufficiency) was routinely let into the vegie garden I was trying to establish, when I was at school, and when the garden was destroyed beyond repair they got rid of the goat too – had a nice year of milking, making cottage cheese and drinking fresh milk though, at age 13.

    Anyway, at age 40 my husband and I tree-changed and now do small-scale organic grass-fed beef and raw honey, and I’m establishing a F&V mandala – came across your permaculture gardening book around six years ago when we bought the property and it made the best sense I’d seen for what I wanted to do (I have a professional biology/environmental science background and appreciate systems based on working with nature and minimising time and energy input).

    Once we finished being so busy with house building, I resurrected the mandala I’d started before that, and you can see it here:

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/redmoonsanctuary/

    We have started the chicken dome, but our neighbour keeps swapping her excess eggs for our honey and so we are going to get chickens down the track when there is a bit more breathing space.

    Anyway, thanks for a fabulous system we could adapt. I’m still a gardening amateur but learning, and in the past half year we’ve been mostly eating our own fruit and vegetables from the mandala, rather than having to buy.

    Now – as promised – to the topic of eating native animals. We do the same when those kinds of situations arise, e.g. a big Western Grey boomer got hit by a car and was hopping painfully around on a fractured foot and we alerted our neighbour who has a gun so the poor thing would be put out of its misery, and originally my husband and I were just going to cut it up for dog food because it had been so distressed, but it was good quality meat anyway and marinading completely countered the toughness brought on my the stress, so we shared it with the dog. Hydatidosis can be an issue so the dog is wormed four-weekly and we cook our own meat well.

    We take the Native American attitude to this: Minimise suffering, honour the animal and its life, never kill for “fun” or “recreation”.

    That particular boomer fed us and the dog for over half a year, and therefore took the pressure off other systems of meat production. This is a very low-environmental-impact way of obtaining animal protein and involves no trips to the abattoir either. We will also buy kangaroo in the supermarket when we don’t have our own, because it’s ethically better meat from a quality of life point of view, plus healthier to eat than potentially feedlotted beef or other industrially produced animals.

    Macropods are less damaging to the Australian environment than our imported farm animals and I think it’s a crying shame that they are not more integrated into our farming systems. It’s pretty easy to understock a little with cattle to allow kangaroos to use the pasture, and then harvest the kangaroo population the same way you harvest the farm animal population, by keeping the population size in line with environmental conditions. We are the top predator now, like it or not, and in Europe the extinction of the wolf meant, for example, that it became the responsibility of humans to limit the deer population to a sustainable level, so that their food base did not get damaged (if you don’t do it then the animals will face starvation in tough times and this isn’t a nice way to go for those animals, compared to professional shooting – besides the environmental damage caused by overstocking).

    We know other people in the area – especially old “bushies” – who actually will pick up fresh kangaroo roadkills, or at least parts of them, for their own consumption. Interestingly it’s officially illegal to eat roadkill, but I’m more concerned about ethics than regulations these days.

    Looks like a nice set of recipes. Good to see you talking about this. Did you catch that UK author and hobby gardener Jeanette Winterson got lambasted by the UK media for (legally) shooting a wild rabbit that had been coming into her vegetable garden and doing a bit of damage, and turning it into a roast? She put the step-by-step pictures of dressing a rabbit onto her blog and it upset a lot of people, which is so ridiculous given that most of her critics buy anonymous industrially-raised meat and probably pretend to themselves than no animal was involved.

    Best wishes, and nice to find your blog!

    Sue

  • Linda March 7, 2017, 1:05 pm

    Hi Sue, lovely to have you visit here! If I get philosophical, I think we are gradually getting more and more removed from the source of our food, and meat is the food we are most removed from, so much so that many people find any mental image of where meat comes from confronting. But it extends to the ridiculous point where supermarkets sell avocado in a tube and fast food outlets pre-peel and cut apples up. It’s a worrying trend, and I love being part of this bloggy community that recognises it for what it is.

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