It might just be the next meat on your grill

Thousands of years ago the ancient Egyptians hunted the ostrich for food. These large flightless birds can weigh in at up to 250 pounds and stand 7 feet tall. But instead of being similar to poultry, ostrich is much more like beef in taste and texture. It has a great versatility and can be bought ground, cut into steaks, as sausage and even hot dogs. As for cooking it, Ostrich can be substituted for most any meat and grills very much like lean beef.

The availability of ostrich meat is still rather spotty, but with new ostrich ranches popping up all over the world it is getting easier to find. Ostrich is also showing up on the menu at many restaurants. Because it is leaner and lower in cholesterol than most any other meat Ostrich is frequently found in heath food stores. There are also several online outlets that now carry ostrich, so you can have it shipped practically anywhere. Ostrich industry groups are working to spread the word and the availability of ostrich, so as time goes by you will probably see more and more ostrich products on the market, which means that the price will come down over time.

When it comes to cooking ostrich remember two things. First of all, ostrich meat is leaner than most any meat you will cook. Be sure not to overcook it and use marinades to hold in the moisture when it cooks. Also, because it is so lean you will see a lot less shrinkage during cooking.

Secondly, ostrich is higher in iron than beef so it has a very red color to it, even when it is properly cooked. Don't compare the color with cooked beef when determining if the meat is cooked properly. It will be darker red when done. This is why it is best to use a meat thermometer to check for doneness.

Ostrich should be cooked to a temperature of 150 degrees F for medium. The cooking times for ostrich are about the same as beef, but keep a close eye on it until you get a used to cooking ostrich.

As I said, ostrich meat can be substituted for most any meat in recipes. It is a great way to reduce your fat and cholesterol intake while still giving you a meaty meal. Ostrich absorbs flavors more quickly than beef so you might want to reduce marinating times and limit the amount of spices you use to compensate. Ostrich has a great flavor of its own and is generally well liked by the pickiest of eaters. Pick an inexpensive cut the first time you try it so that you can get used to the cooking and the flavor of the meat. After that, you will be going back for more ostrich for sure.