Last time we brought you an exotic meat to cook, alligator, we must admit it was primarily for shock value. However, this time is the real deal: Ostrich can be, and in some ways already is, a serious contender as an alternative source of red meat. Why? Well, because not only is it a healthy source of protein, but it's delicious as well.
On the health front, the American Heart Association recommends ostrich as a source of lean meat since it is "very low in total fat, saturated fat, cholesterol, and sodium." The recommended 6-ounce serving contains just 4.8 grams total fat, 0 grams saturated fat, 162 milligrams cholesterol, and 132 milligrams sodium, according to the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. That's comparable to the same-size serving of skinless chicken breast, which has 6 grams total fat, 1.8 grams saturated fat, 144 milligrams cholesterol, and 126 milligrams sodium. But ostrich is far more flavorful than any skinless chicken breast, no matter how juicy and perfectly cooked.
That's because ostrich is rich in flavor, more like a red meat than any poultry. It does not taste like chicken; in fact, it tastes similar to beef. This key difference is important to understand. It is not your typical bird. The Daily Meal's video producer Ali Rosen recently had a chance to get up close and personal with some of these lovely birds during a recent trip to Cape Point, just outside of Cape Town, South Africa, where wild ostriches can be found naturally roaming by the coastline. She says that "ostriches are really scary" and that "I think the thing that's amazing [about ostriches] is that when you're next to them you realize just how powerful they are. You usually think of birds [that we eat] as really small. And when you want something like a burger, you want it to come from something meaty. But ostriches have legs as big as people's."
An ostrich, then, is not your typical bird. We've even heard them characterized them as "horse-birds," which is pretty apt considering they are raced for sport in certain parts of the world. A typical ostrich is a sturdy animal; ranging from 7 to 9 feet tall, they would tower over most people, and in fact, they are the world's largest bird. They are able to achieve a top speed of 43 miles per hour and can sprint for 31 miles before running out of steam; one stride spans anywhere between 10 to 16 feet. Ostriches weigh anywhere between 220 to 350 pounds, and can kill people with a blow from one of their powerful legs. Ostriches are found in many parts of Africa, but are also being raised in other parts of the world, including in the Middle East, where their subcutaneous oil is prized for its use in medicine and cosmetics, and their sharp claws are useful for polishing diamonds. Here in the United States, much like in the Middle East, ostrich is catching on as a popular alternative to red meat. (Photo courtesy of Daniel Gourvitch)