Slow Cooking Alpaca

Like all meat there are some cuts that are best for slow cooking or soups. My favorites are the Alpaca neck rosettes and the shank.

One of the major differences that you will find in cooking the neck rosettes is that the larger the rosette the longer the cooking time. Alpacas have very long necks and the lower part of the neck is very muscular and much larger than the rosettes that higher on the neck. Because the larger rosettes need more cooking I tend to bone out the rosettes and use them in a slow cooked casserole. I leave the bones in the smaller rosettes and will use them in both casseroles and soup. Alpaca bones produce a mild flavoured stock which can be used to replace either beef or chicken.

Shanks can either be cooked whole or as Osso Bucco. I find the Osso Bucco easier to manage but both work well. The flavour and texture of the shanks and necks are similar to lamb. In most instances alpaca requires very little cooking but in the case of lesser quality cuts like neck, shanks, shoulder and brisket cooking times are longer than lamb. This is probably due to the fact that alpacas are a much more muscular animal than sheep. These cuts also have higher fat contents than the premium cuts. Like lamb shanks and necks the cooked meat is very rich. I have a pressure cooker so I often cook the meat in the pressure cooker and then finish in a french casserole or slow cooker. This just speeds up the cook time.

My Go to base recipe for an Alpaca Casserole

2 Tbls Sweet Paprika

2Tbls garlic powder

2 Tbls onion powder

1-2 tsp Fennel seed

Chilli flakes to taste

Salt and pepper to taste

Sufficient plain flour to coat meat.

2 Bay leaves

Cinnamon stick (optional)

Olive Oil for cooking

Chicken or Beef Stock

3 cloves of garlic

Onion, carrots, Cellery or Cellriac, Red Capsicum

Mix all of the dry spices with the flour and dust the meat (reserve remaining flour mix to thicken casserole). Add oil to pan and heat to medium heat. Brown meat in batches to avoid stewing the meat. Remove meat from pan. Add stock to the pan to deglase. (Cooking in the pressure cooker. I normally add 2 ltr of beef stock, bay leaf, garlic whole onion and cellery stick, cinnamon stick and meat to the pressure cooker and cook for 1hr. At the end of cooking remove the solids from the liquid, and reserve for the casserole) In a heavy based pan saute the chopped carrot, onions and cellery or celriac and capsicum, once the onion is translucent add remaing flour mix to the pan with the vegetables, then add the liquid reserved from the initial cook. Cook covered on low for a another 30 minutes.)

Cooking in a slow cooker may take up to 8 hours. Cooking in a covered casserole at 160c in an oven expect to cook for up to 4hours. 

These flavours work really well but the quantities can be varied according to taste. I have also added potatoes or served with potato mash.

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