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.
At 94 to 95 per cent fat free, it’s a very lean meat that is very high in iron, very high in protein, very low in cholesterol. Alpaca meat can also be very unforgiving when you’re cooking, because it hasn’t got that fat in it. The meat tastes somewhere between lamb and veal.
Look out for alpaca meat at a restaurant, cafe, winery or deli near you!
Alpaca Curry with Spanish Onion Chat Masala Salad
Source: Lifestyle Food
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.