It’s a while since I’ve posted a kangaroo recipe. Though I’m very critical of the intensive farming of animals for meat, I’m not a vegetarian. If you’ve ever seriously tried to grow enough to feed your own household (let alone enough to fully support it), you will know that food webs include predators, prey, animals, plants, insects, funghi, bacteria – the whole complex web. If you take animals and predation out of the system, it teeters and falls. Try to make compost or keep soil fertile without animal manures – pretty quickly you realise that you either go very hungry or use industrially produced chemical fertilisers – a short term fix that leads down a slippery slope. Life enriches itself, knitting the web deeper, adding complexity and resilience with every generation but like a Jenga tower, if you remove a critical bit it collapses.
And both herbivores and carnivores are critical bits. You could no doubt build a stable system as a vegetarian, but you’d have to co-opt other animals to be the carnivore predators in the system, and humans are actually capable of more moral distinction in predator ethics than goannas or quolls or eagles or snakes. So I’m comfortable with the notion that being an ethical predator is part of what being human is all about. The ethical questions for me are around whether the animal lives a “normal” life for that kind of animal, whether it is killed cleanly and without cruelty, whether the species as a whole is safe, and whether its part in the whole web is being fulfilled. Australian beef and lamb are mostly free range and grass fed, but on all these counts, I see kangaroo as the red meat of choice.
The baking dish I use for this is 30 cm by 20 cm. It makes 6 generous serves with a green salad on the side. Leftovers are to fight over.
In a food processor, blend for just a minute till it comes together into a dough:
- 1 cup plain flour. I use the same high gluten baker’s flour that I use for my sourdough, but you can make at least half of it wholemeal flour or buckwheat flour or spelt flour if you like.
- 2 eggs,
- a good swig of olive oil.
- a good pinch of salt.
You want a dough that is soft but not sticky. If it is too dry it will be tough. Flour the benchtop and knead just for a minute, then let it rest for a few minutes, covered with a wet bowl, while you make the sauces.
The Meat Sauce:
Brown 500 grams kangaroo mince in a little olive oil in a large, heavy pan over a high heat. Use the back of a wooden spoon to break up clumps. When it is brown, add:
- 1 large carrot, diced
- 1 capsicum diced
- 1 onion diced
- 3-4 cloves of garlic chopped fine
Saute until the onion starts to become translucent, then add:
- 300 grams of mushrooms, roughly chopped
- 500 grams tomato passata or about 1 kg of fresh tomatoes.
- ¼ cup finely chopped fresh basil and/or oregano
- salt and pepper
Allow this lot to simmer while you make the white sauce and roll out the pasta, adding water if needed. You want a sauce that is fairly wet but spoonable rather than pourable.
The White Sauce
This is a cheat’s white sauce that is much faster and easier, and just as good as the traditional bechamel sauce.You don’t need to wash the food processor. Blend together:
- ¾ cup plain yoghurt
- ¾ cup cottage cheese
- 1 egg
- 50 grams of grated mature cheese
- pinch grated nutmeg
Assembling and Baking
In the baking tray, lay a fairly thin base layer of the meat sauce.
Divide the pasta into three balls, one half the size of the other two, and at least visualise the meat sauce and the white sauce divided into three.
Flour the benchtop well and roll out one of the balls of dough very thin. If you keep flipping it you should be able to get it very thin. Trim it to the same size as the baking tray, roll the rolling pin under it and transfer it to the baking tray. Add the trimmings to the small ball of dough.
Cover with another layer of meat sauce, then a layer of white sauce, then another layer of pasta. Repeat.
Cover the final layer of pasta with a final thin layer of white sauce. Sprinkle grated cheese fairly thinly over the top and bake for around 30 minutes until the top is brown and bubbly.
It’s really good hot, but so good the next day that it is worth making a double batch.