The loin of the camel is one of the most tender and fatty cuts. It is found on the backside of the camel toward the rear.
|This picture comes from the Camel Association of Pakistan. Note the loin is beneath the hump on the right side.|
|This picture comes from SAMEX Australian Meat Exporters and the line is drawn to the same part of the camel. Note that the striploin cut looks like the cut I got.|
This loin was obtained from Exotic Meat Market which gets the meat from wild dromedary (one hump) camels harvested in Australia as an invasive species. I wasn't quite sure what to expect from it. I've had a camel ribeye steak that was spectacular, but also camel ribs that were as hard and chewy as anything I've ever tasted. Because I had quite a bit of meat, about 5 1/2 pounds and intended to cook it on Christmas Eve, I decided to experiment with the meat ahead of time to determine the best way to prepare it.
|This camel was photographed in the Erg Chebbi Dunes (Sahara Desert) of Morocco.|
|This loin is spread out on a large platter usually reserved for a turkey.|
|This is an end-photo of the same piece of meat turned over on the other side.|
|I cut the loin into slices.|
As more of a lark than anything, I cut off a chunk and grilled it on our outdoor gas grill without any preparation other than a coating of vegetable oil, salt and pepper. I was absolutely blown away by how good it was. The taste was mild, but still flavorful, better than beef. It was fatty, but not overly so. The grilling gave a nice outer crust to the meat, but the inside was beautiful red, warm and tender.
|Grilled without brining or marinade. Fantastic.|
While I was grilling the camel above, I also had some camel in a brine (one tablespoon of sea salt per cup of water) and marinade (a large lime and three small lemons) to add moisture and break down what I expected to be tough camel meat. I left it in the brine/marinade for an hour and when I pulled it out, washed off the brine/marinade and patted it dry, it had loosened up quite a bit. I put one section of this prepared camel loin on the gas grill and cooked it similarly to my first batch. The end product was softer and more tender than the first batch, it was less gristly and had a hint of a lime taste. It was very good, but I actually preferred the first batch and the extra bit of meat "character." From this, I determined that future batches did not need any marinade (lime and lemon), but that I would brine for an hour.
|Grilled after brining and marinade. Note, I like it rare, many would like it more cooked.|
From this same batch I cooked some loin sous vide at 56 degrees Centigrade for an hour. Then I got a frying pan very hot with melted butter and browned the outside of the loin all around. I found the sous vide version to be less moist, which surprised me and the outside was not as nice as either of the grilled versions. I really liked the charring from the outdoor grill. So the sous vide was out for future versions.
|A section of loin after sous vide for an hour.|
|Browning the sous vide piece in a hot pan with butter.|
|The sous vide and fried meat. Note how the frying has browned the meat around the edges.|
Also from this batch I baked a small piece in the oven at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for about 27 minutes. It was good and moist, but not as moist as my grilled versions, and it was a little more gristly (probably more a result of the portion of the cut than the method of cooking). Good, but not as good.
|Small piece baked in the oven.|
|The inside of the baked piece. Note how evenly it has cooked, likely because it was such a small piece. It is actually more uniformly cooked inside than the sous vide because of the extra frying of the sous vide loin.|
For Christmas Eve (the next day) I brined the meat for an hour and then cooked it on the outdoor grill. My son, Andrew, was a little leery about eating the wild meat as rare as I like it, so I cooked some longer to a more medium or medium rare. Still very good.
|The uncooked steaks for Christmas Eve.|
|Some of the pieces cooked more medium/medium rare.|
Camel loin is right up there for me with any of the great meats I've eaten (bison, prime beef and wagyu beef). I like the fact that it is from a wild animal and has not been fed an improper diet (like corn fed beef) or filled with chemicals. I like the slightly stronger taste (like bison). This is seriously good meat that is worthy of the finest occasion and certainly more fun as a table conversation.