The American alpaca story has not always been a pleasant one but the future is slowly brightening, thanks to farmers able to see the burgers amid the herds. Alpaca meat should probably have been part of the plan from the beginning; for those who have tried the burgers, of course, this is not news.
If you are in the U.S., have not yet tried alpaca, and have not found a local provider, you can easily satisfy your curiosity thanks to the wonderful folks at Cas-Cad-Nac Farm.
The Lutzes didn’t eat alpaca meat until it became part of their business in 2011. They needed extra money because the economic crisis thwarted their livestock sales. Nobody was interested in spending $8-$25,000 on one of their alpaca, even if they were of the highest quality.
It was a way of generating revenue and profit at a time when the farm couldn’t support itself.
In his travelogue, Down Under, author Bill Bryson observed among the Aussies a hidden mirth, as though they had put one over on the British by virtue of having been exiled to such a superior island. One might discern the same secret joy within the Australian Alpaca industry, which is slowly transforming into the Australian alpaca meat industry.
At its best, alpaca is a mild red meat with a soft consistency similar to that of venison, though without the gaminess. The flavor, in fact, is so mild it might be described as buttery, and yields exquisite burgers. It has much less fat than beef, which brings advantages and disadvantages: Alpaca is not the least bit greasy, but may require some fat added during the cooking process so it doesn’t dry out.
As a mild-flavored meat, you can take alpaca in many directions, cuisine-wise. The unique texture allows it to substitute for anything from beef to tofu. It really does make for fantastic eating…once you solve the toughness problem.