At least once a year, I try to make a meal crafted solely on ingredients purchased at the Minneapolis Farmer's Market. I have to admit, it isn't really much of a challenge, because there are so many options available there, so this year, I decided to increase the challenge a bit !
I had seen a post recently that alpaca meat was new to the market this year, and was very anxious to try it. I stopped by to visit the lovely ladies at Alpaca Farm, and talked to them about the flavor of the meat, and the best way to prepare it, then I set about crafting my recipe.
As it turns out, alpaca is somewhere between pork and beef, and is fairly mild in flavor. As a result, you want to prepare it in a way where it can be served rare to medium rare. Since this was also my first time tasting it, I really wanted to TASTE it, meaning not over-flavor it with lots of seasonings.Since we had a late start to the growing season, the market has a lot of greens this time of year, and spinach looked nice and fresh, so I grabbed a big bunch of it, and decided on a warm spinach salad with bacon vinaigrette. The grilled alpaca steaks would be perfect on top of it.
Now, here is the amazing part of this salad. Every piece of it, with the exception of the seasonings, can be obtained at the market...eggs, bacon, even pineapple (although not Minnesota grown). This dish was so hearty we couldn't eat it all, but it was awesome for lunch today ! I can't wait to grab some more alpaca and try it another way. I purchased two cuts to steak to see which we preferred, one sirloin and one tenderloin, and I think we liked the tenderloin best. It was a little more tender, but smaller and thinner. Since they were both the same price, it wouldn't matter either way, it just suited our tastes better.
For the steaks:
1 pound alpaca tenderloin
Montreal Steak seasoning
Let the steaks come to room temperature, then lightly sprinkle with sauce and seasoning, making sure to rub well. Set aside.
For the vinaigrette:
6 strips bacon
3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon stone ground mustard
Fry bacon until crispy, then set aside for salad. Remove 3 tablespoons of the bacon grease to a small bowl, and combine with vinegar and mustard. Whisk until thick and then set aside.
For the salad:
1 pound fresh baby spinach
3 hard boiled eggs
3 tablespoons finely diced onions
6 strips crumbled bacon
3 slices fresh pineapple, peeled and cored
3 tablespoons goat cheese, crumbled
Assemble all salad ingredients on plates, except for the pineapple. Take steaks and pineapple out to the grill. Preheat grill on high for 10 minutes until it is over 400 degrees. Place the tenderloin on the hottest section of the grill, and the pineapple slices to the side. Grill both 3-4 minutes on each side until steak is just past rare, and the pineapple has nice grill marks on both sides. Remove from grill and let rest 4-5 minutes. Slice and place on top of salad. Drizzle with vinaigrette and serve.