The commercial farming of alpaca to now include the meat and hide industry has proven that the Australian alpaca industry is now viable in the long term and provides the grower with an additional income stream. The return on capital investment allows existing growers to move on animals they can no longer use in their herd and in return purchase other genetics through matings or new females to improve their herds.
Previously, apart from genetics sought by breeders to bolster their herds from other breeders, there was no defined market or avenue to move on excess animals other than the guardian animals or ‘pets’ on an ad hoc basis. In times of drought and downsizing of sheep herds, these markets can be limited.
Only wethers are sent to market and these can vary in age from 18 months to 60 months. Processors report that so far, there has been no deterioration in quality in age differentiation, but naturally carcase weight will differ. Carcass weight is approximately 58% of live body weight, and each animal must have a body condition score of 2.75 or better.
100% of the animal is used (including offal) from the neck to the shanks. Prime alpaca cuts include strip loin, rump, shoulder roll, back straps and neck rosettes.
Look out for alpaca meat at a restaurant, cafe, winery or deli near you!
Cooking with Alpaca
Alpaca is a mild red meat that is tender, extremely lean, and described by some as almost sweet. Its flavor closest to beef without the fatty aftertaste. Alpaca takes on the flavor of what it’s mixed with making it a chef’s favorite! Alpaca is a high protein, low-fat healthy choice meat. It should be cooked quickly on high heat, turning only once to retain its natural tenderness. For the best results, alpaca should be served rare or medium. After cooking rest on a warmed plate for several minutes before serving.
It goes perfectly with fresh sage, coriander, pine nuts, or chopped garlic.
NUTRITIONAL COMPOSITION OF ALPACA MEAT
(source – RIRDC report 07/172 2007)
|ALPACA MEAT ANALYSIS||TEST RESULTS|
|Energy – kj/100g||604
|Protein (nx6.25) g /100/g||23.1
|Fat-Saturated g/1 00g||3.1
|Carbohydrates-Total g /100g||<0.1
|Carbohydrates-Sugars g/1 00g||<0.1
*All analysis was tested on Alpaca Backstrap
source: SBS Food
- 1 alpaca shoulder
- quinoa, to serve
- 2 potatoes, scrubbed and sliced
- 1 brown onion, halved and sliced
- 500 g white sugar
- 500 g table salt
- 5 litres water
- 2 cinnamon sticks
- 2 star anise
- 1 tsp cumin seeds
- 2 fresh bay leaves
- 3 dried aji panca chillies, stalks trimmed
- 3 dried aji mirasol chillies, stalks trimmed
- 1 onion, chopped
- 500 ml(2 cups) olive oil
- 2 garlic cloves
Standing time 4 hours
To make the brine, place the sugar, salt and water in a large saucepan and whisk vigorously until sugar and salt dissolve. Bring to the boil, then remove from the heat. Add the spices and bay leaves and cool to room temperature. Add the alpaca to brine and stand for 4 hours.
To make the huanta paste, blanch the chillies in boiling water for 3 minutes. Drain and set aside. Place the olive oil and garlic cloves in a saucepan over low heat and cook for 5 minutes. Remove from the heat, add the onion and stand for 10 minutes. Place chillies and olive oil mixture in a blender and process until smooth paste forms.
Preheat the oven to 180°C. Line a large baking tray with baking paper. Spread the potatoes and onion evenly over the tray. Drain alpaca and pat dry. Thickly brush all over with huanta paste. Place on top of vegetables.
Cover tray with foil and cook for 3–4 hours, or until meat falls off the bone.