Roast ostrich on smoked mashed potatoes with moromi miso aubergines & apple-braised cavolo nero

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Fusion: A Culinary Journey


By Peter Gordon

Published 2010

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Africa brought us the ostrich, the largest living bird, just as it gave us the somewhat smaller guinea fowl. Ostriches were once also found throughout parts of Syria, Iraq and the Arabian peninsula but, just like New Zealand’s native moa (a flightless bird even larger than the ostrich), they were hunted to extinction by man. These days you’re just as likely to see an ostrich farm in your own country (even winter-cold Sweden breeds them) and their meat, leather and feathers are found all over the world in expensive kebabs, handbags and dusters. The smoked mashed potatoes may well be something that you restrict to summertime barbecues, but this recipe is incredible. At my Auckland, New Zealand, restaurant, dine by Peter Gordon, we also make soft polenta using the same principle - smoking the cream from which it’s made. The smoking matter I use is a mixture of equal quantities of untreated wood chips (neither too fine nor too chunky), black tea and rice, but you may have a mixture of your own. It’s worth investing in a smoker - the best place to find one would be your nearest outdoor or camping store. The first time I ate cavolo nero, which means black cabbage in Italian, was in Florence in 1990 when I visited friends there. It had been slowly cooked with butter beans and garlic and was served on bruschetta - delicious. If you can’t find moromi miso then any miso paste will work.


  • 1 kg (peeled weight) starchy potatoes
  • 100 g smoking matter (a mixture of untreated wood chips, tea and rice)
  • 300 ml double cream
  • 200 g butter
  • 500 g cavolo nero
  • 1 large onion, peeled and thinly sliced
  • 6 cloves garlic, peeled and sliced
  • 30 ml (2 Tbsp) olive oil, plus more for cooking the ostrich
  • 1 apple, core removed, cut into small dice (choose an apple that isn’t overly sweet)
  • 100 ml apple juice (choose one that isn’t too sweet)
  • 50 g moromi miso
  • 50 ml sake
  • 30 ml (2 Tbsp) mirin
  • 1 thumb of ginger, peeled and julienned
  • ½ red chilli, julienned
  • 1 large aubergine, stalk removed, cut into 10 lengthways wedges, then each in half again
  • 10 ml (2 tsp) sesame oil
  • 1 kg ostrich breast meat, cut against the grain into 6 even-sized pieces
  • 30 ml (2 Tbsp) extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 lemon, cut into 6 wedges


Boil the potatoes in lightly salted water until cooked. While they’re cooking set up your smoker and when smoke begins to issue from it place the cream, in a shallow heat-proof dish, on the smoking rack inside, put the lid on the smoker, and smoke over moderate-high heat for 6-8 minutes. Every few minutes give the cream a stir as the smoke settles on the fatty surface and you want to infuse this throughout the rest of the cream. Once it’s ready, turn the heat off and carefully remove the container of smoked cream. Pour it into a pan, add the butter and slowly warm through until the butter has melted.

Drain the cooked potatoes then mash with the warmed cream and season with salt.

Tear the leaves from the fibrous central stalks of the cavolo nero and rinse in a sink of cold water then drain. Sauté the onion and garlic in the olive oil until just beginning to caramelise, stirring often, then add the apple and drained cavolo nero and give it a good stir. Add the apple juice, bring to a boil then put a lid on the pot and cook on a rapid simmer for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. Season with salt and pepper.

While that’s cooking, preheat the oven to 160°C. Mix the miso, sake, mirin, ginger and chilli together in a bowl along with 50 ml warm water. Add the wedges of aubergine to the bowl and toss it all together. Line a baking tray with parchment and place the aubergine on top, skin-side down. Drizzle the juices from the bowl on top, then the sesame oil, and bake for 15 minutes or so, until the flesh has softened and coloured.

Pat the ostrich steaks dry with kitchen paper, then lightly season and rub with olive oil. Leave to come to room temperature. Heat up a wide frying-pan over a moderate-high heat then place the ostrich steaks in, as many as will fit comfortably in one layer, and cook to medium-rare (although you can cook ostrich meat more it will be quite dry as the meat is lean). You can also grill ostrich on a barbecue which is great.

To Serve

Spread some of the mash on warmed plates and place the cavolo nero and aubergines on top. Slice the steaks into 3-4 pieces and lay these on top, then drizzle with the extra virgin olive oil.

Serve with a wedge of lemon on the side.