For those of you that follow my ramblings on Think Tasmania, you will know that wherever there’s a rabbit pie or a plate of liver and onions or a pint of Guinness involved then I’ll be there! On previous visits to Tasmania I’ve discovered a product that uses a sustainable Australian resource that is marketed at the right price. I found the treasure in Coles at Devonport. For around five dollars a pack, I could buy meat so lean that I left the store with a tick of approval.
Lenah Game Meats: Possum and Wallaby
by Roger Findlay
Wallaby mince is the best you can buy for spaghetti bolognaise. It’s exceptionally lean and has a texture quality far superior to that of beef making it the ideal choice for those concerned about their heart.
When I got back on the mainland, I scoured the shops for the Lenah Game Meats brand without success and it was then that I decided to contact the business direct. Principal, John Kelly, was soon in-touch and it was from there that I made an appointment to visit his premises and to write this article. Due to an inter-state commitment, John couldn’t meet with us on the Monday as planned and the best alternative for us was the Sunday morning.
Lenah Game Meats is tucked away in an industrial estate just north of the city of Launceston. It’s a small building but adequately fitted-out for the activity inside. Peering through the open door, I was impressed by the cleanliness and tidiness of this small operation.
As promised, John was there already for the 10am appointment. He was busy in a cool room hanging a shipment of product that had just been delivered by harvesters. I didn’t expect to see too much but I also wasn’t disappointed with what John did show me.
I appreciated the time he spent explaining the process of how wallabies and other game are delivered by regular harvesters, skinned, broken down, cut and packed. He showed us pre-packaged items that can be found in Tasmanian outlets such as Coles, IGA’s, Fresh and Vermey’s. Shanks, kebabs, sausages, fillets, mince, salami and a juniper smoked delicacy form the wallaby range while possum is available whole and in the form of chipolatas. We also saw large bags of wallaby meat destined for Melbourne butchers as well as signs advertising venison, hares, ducks and kangaroo.
Lenah: Aboriginal for Wallaby
You may already know that Lenah is the aboriginal word for wallaby but you may not know that a wallaby yields around 3kg of meat and that the semi-processed (dried and salted) skins are sold into the Chinese market.
Possum meat has become popular in the up-market restaurants on mainland Australia. The whole carcass weighs about 1.6kg and looks similar to a large rabbit or a hare. I was surprised by the increasing popularity on the diners table as I saw a celebrity chef spit roast a possum at the Seymour Alternative Field Days. Yet to try it, I thought I’d research a recipe for those of you with spirit and adventure:
- 1 large possum from Lenah Game Meats; skinned, dressed and washed
- 1 quart beer
- 4 tablespoons Tabasco sauce
- 1 1/2 tablespoon salt
- 2 onions, chopped
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
- 4 sweet potatoes
- 2 ribs celery, chopped
- 1 ounce whisky
Mix the beer, whisky, salt, Tabasco sauce, and Worcestershire sauce together. Place possum in a large roasting pan. Sprinkle the celery, onions, and the garlic all over the possum. Pour the liquid mixture over the possum as well. Cover and refrigerate overnight.
Preheat oven to 350F. Place the sweet potatoes around the possum. Bake covered for 1 1/2 hours. Baste once or twice with the marinade from the pan as the possum cooks.
John Kelly: Lenah Game Meats
John Kelly was proud to tell us that possum and wallaby fibre is baled and sent to Italy for processing before returning as a yarn for spinning and felting. With a wry grin, he also told us of a new wallaby skin product that is being developed for the cold Tasmanian winters. I’ll keep it a secret for now but I can tell you that it’s not like the feral cat skin Davey Crocket hat I saw on King Island!
I wish to thank John Kelly for giving me the opportunity to write this article and to thank him for the time he spent showing us the operation. Without hesitation, I can testify that the standards of cleanliness and ethics put Lenah Game Meats at the forefront of the market.
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