Well, we can only tell you what we do in Maine when there’s a special on kangaroo meat at the local market.

Some consider kangaroo among the finest of game meats, with a rich, appealing flavor that combines well with many other foods and holds its own with aromatic spices. Depending on whom you ask, it is compared to venison or hare. The flavor intensity is said to range from subtle in young animals to distinctively gamy in older ones.

Available in a wide range of cuts, kangaroo can be prepared in much the same way as other red meat. But because it is so low in fat (about 2%), it is easy to dry it out. If you like your meat well done (or even medium) look for something other than kangaroo. Most often it is seared in a skillet over high heat, and then finished at lower heat in the skillet or in the oven. Prime cuts can also be cooked on the barbecue or included in stir fry dishes. No matter how you cook it, though, the goal is to go no further than medium rare. Lesser cuts are said to respond well to long, slow cooking, such as braising and stewing, but we’d suggest mastering the better cuts first.

Kangaroos are not farmed, but are hunted in the wild under the watchful eye of the Australian government. You would expect a game meat to be quite tough - especially the meat from those two powerful back legs, which get such a workout. This should be compounded by fact that the meat is particularly low in fat. But it is surprisingly tender. A chemical process that scientists don’t understand very well occurs after an animal is killed. How quickly this process occurs dramatically affects how tender the meat is. With kangaroos, the process occurs almost immediately, while it can take 36 hours in the case of cattle.

While kangaroo meat is a rarity in our supermarkets in Maine, it is exported all over the world. The French, Germans, Belgians, and Swiss actually consume more per capita than Australians, although there has been a marked increase in the consumption at home in the past few years. There was also a significant boost in kangaroo exports to Europe in the wake of diseases affecting cattle in Britain and on the Continent. In fact, less expensive kangaroo cuts are being used to make salami and other sausages in Russia, Romania, and Serbia. Kangaroo is also available in Japan, the Philippines, and other countries in Asia, South Africa, and, of course, the US and Canada, where it shows up almost exclusively in restaurants.

The Kangaroo Industry Association of Australia has a page of recipes at its Web site, including Kangaroo Steak, Kangaroo Satay, Pepper Kangaroo, Coriander Chili Kangaroo, Grilled Loin of Kangaroo with Fig & Onion, Thai Kangaroo Salad, Herb- and Caraway-Crusted Kangaroo Escalopes on Soft Olive Polentaand our favorite Austral/New England combination - ‘Roo Fillets with Blueberry Sauce.

It also offers the following general guide to cooking times:

  • Stir Fry: (1/4 inch; 5mm thick) 1 minute maximum
  • Kebabs: (1/2 inch; 1.5 cm cubes) 2 minute per side (leave space between cubes)
  • Medallions: Steaks (1 inch; 2.5cm thick) 2 to 3 minutes per side.
  • Roasts: Brown in pan then cook in preheated oven for 8 to 12 minutes per pound (500 gms) at 425°F (220°C). Thick roasts may take longer than thin regardless of weight.

OK, we have never seen kangaroo meat for sale in Maine, not even in the market that specializes in bison, elk, ostrich, pheasant, and the occasional selection of African meats. But the mail-order company ExoticMeats.Com has a Web site that may or may not work (the alternative is to phone 800-680-4375), but does offer kangaroo meat in this country.