Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Llama. It’s what’s for dinner.

Yup.  You read that right.  Last weekend at the Farmer’s Market in town I gave in and bought peppered Alpaca jerky and ground Llama.  The jerky was $5 for a bag and the ground llama I paid $7 a pound for. Obviously, $7/pound is not as good as what I buy ground beef for (on sale) but it was definitely less than buffalo meat.  While it was a little over the top, I figured I would eat the cost for the sake of trying something new. 

The jerky was delicious.  I’m not usually a fan of peppered jerky, but it reminded me of the jerky I used to buy at my favorite meat market before the owner decided to semi-retire, switch locations and quit selling their Award-winning, $27 per pound beef jerky.  No one else was willing to try it, but after my first bite I really didn’t care…more for me!

I won’t lie, I was a bit nervous about the llama meat.  The boyfriend had a steak he was going to enjoy, so the llama burgers were for me and his daughter.  I had found some recipes online and they all seemed to be pretty basic so I got started.  The first thing I noticed right away was that it looked really fatty.  It definitely smelled better than ground beef, and it was ground really nice so it didn’t feel any different (and yes, I totally smelled my raw meat.  Crap.  There's really not a nice way to say that).

I dumped the meat in a bowl and added a little onion powder, garlic powder, salt and pepper.  Then I mashed it all together.  Of course, while wrist-deep in raw Llama meat is when I realized that I didn’t have any buns so I ran to the store and left the patties sitting in the fridge.  When I came back, I gave my patties a quick dip in some beer and a shake of pepper and sent them out to the grill. 

The grill master then chose to re-patty my patties as he claimed they were falling apart.  I sent down some Kraft cheese singles for the kiddo’s burger and some sliced Capriko for me (another Farmer’s Market find from Nordic Creamery http://www.nordiccreamery.com/).  I had tried the Capriko before I bought it, but I was able to have a nice slice at home.  The Nordic Creamery website describes it as “firm, yet has a creamy mouth feel and a sweet, nutty flavor, followed by a pleasant tanginess”.  It is surprising and delicious.  I definitely think Capriko is my new favorite cheese. 

The bite, albeit tentative, bite was good.  So I went back for more.  I don’t know if it was the seasoning or the meat, but it was the best burger I’d ever had.  It was incredible.  It wasn’t fatty or grisly or chewy like I thought it was going to be.  It is just a nice, juicy, meaty burger.  The flavor was excellent and the cheese was perfect.  I'm a simpleton when it comes to my cheeseburgers.  I like them on bread, the end.  Every once in a while I decide I want mushrooms and swiss but I keep it pretty basic.  I definitely think this would have been great with a lettuce leaf and a slice of tomato. 

I highly recommend it.  If you’re interested in Nutrition Facts, they’re tricky to come by.  It is much easier to find information about alpaca meat.  But while they come from the same family, I’m not sure if the value would be the same but I’ve seen everything from 120-166 calories per 4 oz. serving.