I've had camel in various forms and ways: camel milk; camel milk chocolate; camel sausage; ground camel in mashed potatoes; ground camel patties; camel filet mignon; and camel ribeye. However, I've been wanting to try camel ribs for some time. Recently as I went through the freezers at Exotic Meat Market in Grand Terrace I found some and was quite excited to try them. The package had two ribs in it, identified as "short ribs," both very long and very wide. Much longer and wider than any ribs I've seen before, but quite thin.
|These two camel ribs dwarf an ordinary plate.|
I'd seen a post by Justice Stewart who'd sous vided camel ribs and I went to his post for a primer. He'd also received his ribs from Exotic Meat Market and Anshu Pathak, the owner, warned him that camel ribs are "very tough and should be cooked a long time." So Stewart did his ribs for 72 hours at 133 degrees F (56 degrees C) in a sous vide.
I was a little taken back by the long cooking time and thought I'd do it much shorter. I rubbed the ribs in some Ethiopian Berbere Spice, which includes nutmeg, ginger, cardamom, clove, onion, garlic, Himalayan pink salt, fenugreek, allspice, coriander and ajwain, and added additional pepper, garlic and salt.
I put them in the sous vide for 9 hours and then cut the meat off the bone in strips.
|Camel ribs after 9 hours in the sous vide.|
|Camel meat cut from the ribs after 9 hours in the sous vide.|
I was not prepared for the result. The meat had a good taste, but it was tough, tough, tough, so chewy that I finally had to spit out several bites of it. The only thing that came to mind as tough was some coyote leg I'd eaten. I was a little bumfoggled. The other kinds of camel I've tried have been very wonderful, and rib meat is generally pretty fatty. Why was this so tough? I packaged up the remaining meat and vacuum sealed it and put it back in the sous vide for another 63 hours, to equal the 72 hours Justice Stewart had done.
|The meat after an additional 63 hours in the sous vide.|
|The empty camel ribs.|
The additional time did have a pretty dramatic impact on the meat. It was much less chewy, now edible, but it was still way more chewy than regular rib meat. If I ever do camel ribs again I will brine them over night to break them down, and then I might do them in a crock pot. Very surprising result, but that is part of what is fun about cooking unusual meats, unexpected challenges and learning ways to prepare and cook them to make them better.