Monday, September 7, 2009

Greek Ostrich Burgers

My husband and I don’t eat beef, and for the last 20 years we’ve been using ground turkey to make burgers, meatballs, etc. At our local farmer’s market, I discovered ostrich, a low-fat healthy meat that tastes a lot like beef. It tastes so much like beef, that at first we thought it was too strong tasting. As we’ve eaten it more and more, we’ve grown to really love the rich taste and the firm texture. That’s one of the drawbacks with turkey – nothing ever seems to have enough “chew”.

Our local ostrich farm can be reached at We buy the meat frozen at the farmer’s market, but maybe they ship.

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Here’s a comparison chart (lifted directly from BirdBrain’s website) of ostrich to other popular meats.

per 3 oz. meat


Obviously, this is a little skewed, because you can get lower fat ground beef and pork. But, you can see that regardless ostrich is a very healthy meat. Because it’s sold by small farmers, it’s also usually hormone and antibiotic free.

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When we first started eating ostrich burgers, I though it would be fun and informative to do a comparison taste-test. I made turkey burgers, ostrich burgers and one that was half and half

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The turkey burgers are on the top, the pure ostrich burger is on the bottom left, and the mixed one is on the bottom right. I knew from the get-go that ostrich tastes best when cooked medium-rare, and that would be a problem with the mixed burger (since turkey must be cooked to at least 160-degrees), but decided to go ahead anyway and just cook that burger longer. I was really surprised that we liked the ostrich burger the best, the mixed one (even though it was cooked through) second best and the turkey burger the least. It just seemed to have so much less flavor than the ones with ostrich, and the texture wasn’t as firm either. I cooked the first ostrich burger rare-ish (140 degrees), which we didn’t like as much as the ostrich that was medium-rare (about 150 degrees ). I’m sure if you’re used to rare meat, you’d find the rare ostrich just fine, but since we are used to fully cooked turkey, it was a bit of a shock to us. In any case, I cooked the burgers on my Cuisinart Griddler and the ostrich exuded a lot of juice, which I removed by tilting the Griddler so the juice could flow out and into the cup that comes with it. I had to do this so that the burgers wouldn’t steam. A cast iron pan might have been better, but mine was all rusty, so this was the best choice available (without using oil in another pan). The ostrich was done in less than 3 minutes, and the turkey took about 3-1/2-4. Very quick and very tasty!!

The following recipe was adapted from a Bon Appetit recipe published in 1990.

1 pound ground ostrich
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1/4 cup crumbled feta cheese

Mix all of the above ingredients, and shape into patties, 3/4-inch thick. Refrigerate until ready to cook. Make the sauce first and have other ingredients ready, as the burgers cook very quickly.

Tzatziki Sauce
1 tablespoon grated cucumber
5 ounces Greek yogurt, fat free okay
1 teaspoon lemon juice
1 teaspoon chopped mint
1 teaspoon olive oil
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon chopped dill

Mix all of the ingredients together and chill until ready to grill the burgers. Leave the sauce at room temperature when you start to make the burgers.

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Cook the burgers to desired done-ness. Serve with sauce, lettuce cucumbers, etc. on buns of your choice (we use low-fat whole grain buns)