Chef Matthew Basford, of Canoe in Atlanta, Georgia, shares with us one of his favorite healthy dishes!
Q: Please tell us what inspired the creation of our featured dish.
Chef Matthew Basford: Being Australian I thought it was my duty to expose people the great protein that is kangaroo. The flavor of kangaroo is very similar to venison with the texture of a lamb loin. I like to combine the slight gaminess of kangaroo with a beet labneh. The labneh combines a slightly acidic flavor with the sweetness of beets. The kangaroo is then complimented with a saute of roasted parsnips, Brussels and north Georgia apples. It is the dish that combines my past and my present.
Q: For our vegetarian readers, which dish do you recommend as a must try? And what about for the meat-eaters?
MB: For vegetarians, I would recommend our autumnal style salad. It consists of apples, brussels, squash with kale, and a vanilla – bourbon vinaigrette. For meat eaters, I would also recommend people try our kangaroo dish. Kangaroo is an extremely healthy protein and also has a taste great. If you eat venison you would defiantly enjoy kangaroo. At the moment, I sell it with a beet labneh, parsnip and brussels.
Q: Besides the beautiful views offered at Canoe, the dish presentations are just as stunning. What does food presentation mean to you?
MB: Presentation is definitely important but it means less if you do not have great flavor and sourcing great ingredients. At Canoe, we always strive to sell the highest quality of ingredients and in the height of their season.
Q: How does Canoe offer a dining experience for its guests unlike other restaurant establishments?
MB: At Canoe, we always strive to give the guest the best possible dining experience. That comes in three factors, service definitely being of great importance. Our service staff is one of the best in the city, with their level of knowledge, dedication and pursuit of excellence. Then comes the food, I look at it as approachable cuisine. We are not looking to make people feel intimidated with what they are about to eat. If people are comfortable then they can enjoy their experience more. Lastly is the view, and that is not repeatable in the city. There are few places in Atlanta that you can drive 10 minutes from the city and be in a very tranquil location with just the flowing river and crickets to serenade you.
Q: For our readers who may be new to healthy cooking, where do you suggest they start as far as ingredients to always keep stocked at home?
MB: I would recommend that people explore farmers markets and get to know the people that sell at them. If you can make contacts there you will know what fruits and vegetables are in season. The ingredients bought there will also generally last a little longer as it was picked only a few days before. Always look to have fresh and unprocessed food, it may be a little more time spent in the kitchen but the flavor of the food will be far superior and better for your health.
Canoe is located at: 4199 Paces Ferry Rd SE, Atlanta, GA 30339
Distance to closest LA Fitness: 2.9 mi. (Akers Mill Square – 2995 Cobb Parkway)
PEPPERCORN CRUSTED KANGAROO
w/ Crisped Brussels, Apple, and Beet Labneh
- 2 Kangaroo Loins (cleaned) *Substitute: If cannot find, venison loin will also work)
- 2 oz. Coarse Grind Black Pepper
- 8 tbsp. Canola Oil
For the Roasted Vegetables
- 8 ea Brussel Sprouts cut in 1/2
- 2 ea Granny Smith Apples peeled and cut into wedges
- 4 oz. Dried Cranberry roughly chopped
- 2 ea Parsnip peeled and cut into batons
For the Labneh
- 16 oz. Greek Style yogurt
- 1 tsp Kosher Salt
- 2 ea. Red Beet Root peeled
- 2 c Balsamic Vinegar
- 2 c Water
- 1 c Sugar
- 1 tbsp Salt
For the Labneh (Prep Time: 2 days)
- Combine the yogurt and salt.
- Using a colander, place a cheese cloth (double-lined) with enough cloth to hang over the edge. Gently spoon the yogurt mixture into the center of the colander.
- Pull the excess cloth towards the center and tie off with butchers twine.
- Hang the mixture with a bowl underneath to catch the liquid that expels.
- Leave to hang in refrigerator from 24-48 hours.
For the Beet Puree
- In a sauce pan, combine beets, vinegar, sugar, water and salt.
- Cook gently until beets can be skewered with no resistance.
- Let cool.
- Puree the beets with just enough of the liquid to make a puree.
- Combine beet puree with labneh base. Season with salt and pepper. Consistency should be smooth.
For the Roasted Vegetables
- Toss half the brussels with enough canola oil and season with salt and pepper.
- Repeat same step with apples and parsnips. Be sure to separate the two, as cooking times will vary.
- Roast in a 400 degree oven until golden brown. Chef Tip: Apples will take approximately 6-10 minutes, brussels 15-20 minutes, and parsnip 15 minutes. Rotate for an even color.
For the Kangaroo
- Season the kangaroo with cracked black pepper, salt, and canola oil.
- Sear the meat on high heat, using either a cast iron pan or outdoor BBQ grill. Chef Tip: Recommended to cook to a rare temperature.
- Place some labneh on base of the plate.
- While hot, mix the roasted vegetable with the dried cranberry and place atop the labneh.
- Once the kangaroo has rested slightly, slice thinly and lay atop the vegetables.