Shanks, Shins and Hocks = FLAVOUR !!

Greeting Carnivores,

I hope you’re hungry today.

As most of you already know, from reading and following along here, I’ve been preaching for a LONG time now about how there really aren’t any bad cuts … just bad ways of cooking certain cuts.

Kinda the same way I feel about Dogs and children … not that there are better ways to cook them … just that there are no bad children or Dogs, … bad parents and owners?… most DEFINITELY … whew … glad I cleared that up before my comments section lit up!! 🙂

Back to the meat.

Today I’m talking about some of the BEST cuts on the carcass that just happen to be some of the very toughest as well, and that’s the Shank, Shin, Hock, Trotter … in plain English, the legs, fore and aft, and while we’re at it … throw the tails into the conversation as well.

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Red Wine braised beef shank

These uber hard working muscles (except the tails … they work pretty hard in their own way) are used for support and mobility and, when rendered over a long, slow cooking time, results in the most tender, succulent meat … PERIOD.

If you haven’t tried braised Beef Shank, Veal Osso Buco, Smoked Ham Hocks, Ox tail stew, or Lamb/Goat Shanks, cooked low and slow for hours, you are REALLY doing yourselves a disservice.

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Lamb Shanks *insert mouth watering here*

The long, slow cooking time works to break down all that wonderful connective tissue and collagen which renders the meat, not only fall off the bone sumptuous but uber flavourful as well.

There are as many recipes as there are methods of cooking low and slow out there on the net now, … get out there and show a little love to the humble Shank … you’ll thank me for it later, I guarantee.

DAMN! … I make myself SOOOOOOOO hungry writing this stuff … I’m just gonna hafta track down some beef shanks tomorrow and get them into some liquid braising love 🙂 🙂

That’s it for today Carnivores … short and sweet 🙂 🙂

Thanks for dropping in … Oh, and by the way … you can share this post with your peeps by following my Blog … otherwise, just scroll down to the “share” area below and “click” on any of the buttons and … share away!!  🙂 🙂

Please, stay tuned and … please click “follow” on this page (Carnivore Confidential). You’ll get an email notice every time I write something new. And, … no need to worry about being bombarded with junk … WordPress is VERY responsible.  🙂

Until next time Carnivores, stay hungry and as usual, please like and share my posts on Facebook http://www.facebook.com/carnivoreconfidential

And, follow on Twitter @DougieDee

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Sous-vide, Surgery and a bunch of time on my hands … again.

Greetings Carnivores,

I’ve been away from writing for some time now. Call it what you like, “writers block”, “lack of motivation”, “creative void”, “laziness”, I don’t know. but, … here I sit, one week into ANOTHER extensive surgical re-hab and … I’m faced with a WHOLE bunch of time on my hands.

Yep … I somehow managed to almost COMPLETELY tear my left Biceps tendon off the bone at the end of January, believe it or not … lifting a bag of firewood. You can’t make this stuff up.

I finally got to see the wonderful Orthopedic surgery team, headed by Dr. John Haverstock at the brand new Oakville Trafalgar Memorial Hospital, and spent a couple of hours last Thursday morning having them reattach it.

Last week was pretty much a wash, dealing with the obvious pain associated with such a fun procedure. Now, … like I said … here I sit.

Ok so, enough of that … todays topic comes from my dinner inspiration, and my very mostest (I know, … not an English word) favouritest (I know … another one … don’t be a hater) kitchen toy, … (“Drum roll please”) … my Anova Sous-vide immersion cooker.

Oh and, no … I’m not being paid to endorse this product … I’m just giving you an honest product review of mine. There are MANY other brands out there to choose from.

Anova Precision Cooker Flowers

I don’t want to sound like I’m jumping on the bandwagon here because, I’m not. A LOT of folks are just now coming around to how AWESOME this method is but … truth is … till just recently, unless you were a professional chef … the rest of us Minions have been in the dark.

I’ve been playing around, using this technique for the past couple of years … as a matter of fact, I originally tried making my own Sous-vide cooker, first using, an insulated cooler then second, a crock-pot but, in both cases … I couldn’t maintain and hold the critical temperature adjustment needed for success.

Now however, I’m currently the proud owner of my second REAL Sous-vide cooker. Not because there was anything wrong with the first one I bought but, more because I was a cheapo and bought the basic one first, then … realized how awesome it was and, shelled out for the second one: the Bluetooth model.

I’ve been meaning to post about this for quite some time now and, … today is the day.

Like I said earlier, Sous-vide has been around for a very long time and is usually exclusively used by high-end restaurants but, thanks to the surging popularity of this method lately, the price has come down significantly so that now … everyone can afford one.

The term “Sous-vide” refers to “cooking under vacuum” but … that’s only a part of this magic. It’s actually a PRECISE method of cooking in a controlled environment … in this case a water bath, where you dial in your desired “doneness” (temperature) and walk away. Whatever you’re cooking can NEVER over cook because the temperature of the item in the bath will NEVER exceed the temperature of the vessel it’s being cooked in.

Imagine your next dinner party … Steaks, veggies, potatoes … EVERYTHING done ahead of serving time … sitting there, blissfully hanging out, waiting for you to plate, while YOU, the host, are enjoying pre-dinner cocktails with your guests!

Unless you’ve catered your party … THAT NEVER HAPPENS!

Think of it this way: let’s say you’re aiming for a nice medium rare beef steak (Rib eye for the sake of argument). The “window” you’re aiming for, for med-rare is (128-131 degrees F. for me) That “window” is extremely  hard to hit with conventional cooking methods because of inconsistencies in the cooking vessel, whether it’s a Grill, Oven or Pan, temperature fluctuations, and (click here)  carry-over cooking.

Carry-over cooking is a thing of the past with Sous-vide because the juices NEVER escaped in the first place so, there’s nothing left to do to this steak except hit it with a BLISTERING HOT, cast iron pan just before serving to give it a sweet “char” on the outside.

You don’t even need a high-end vacuum sealer … all you need are zip-lock bags and use the “air displacement” method.

I’ve already gone past my (self-imposed) post word limit for today so, … I’ll leave you with that morsel to digest.

Please check out Sous-vide cooking, Anova, Joule and Sous-vide Supreme on the net and google Sous-vide.

That’s it for today Carnivores 🙂 🙂

Thanks for dropping in … Oh, and by the way … you can share this post with your peeps by following my Blog … otherwise, just scroll down to the “share” area below and “click” on any of the buttons and … share away!!  🙂 🙂

Please, stay tuned and … please click “follow” on this page (Carnivore Confidential). You’ll get an email notice every time I write something new. And, … no need to worry about being bombarded with junk … WordPress is VERY responsible.  🙂

Until next time Carnivores, stay hungry and as usual, please like and share my posts on Facebook http://www.facebook.com/carnivoreconfidential

And, follow on Twitter @DougieDee

 

Bacon … NOW, I have your attention.

Greetings Carnivores,

What is it about this stuff?

Sweet, salty, smokey and oh soooooo devilishly addictive.

By definition, Bacon is quite simply, a type of salt cured meat, most often pork. But, it doesn’t stop there. This wonderfully addictive, salty, gift from God, can be prepared from many different cuts, as well as many different products.

Hell, even the Veg-heads (you KNOW I love you Sally) have embraced this stuff in a Soy-Tofu form they call “Fakon”.

Now, it can come from the pork belly, loin, cheeks or jowl but, it can also made from beef, poultry … anything really because as I said earlier, “bacon” refers to a salt curing process.

It can be eaten on it’s own or, usually as a breakfast item, saddled up next to eggs, hash browns and toast on your plate. You can use it to enhance the flavour of wild game, give your Mom’s meat loaf that extra “umph”, or send that beef filet mignon or, huge sea scallop to the next level.

Why stop there? How about bacon jerky? Jam? Soups, sauces, salads, sandwiches, deserts, candied, chocolate dipped … even ice cream and milk shakes!!!

The only limit to the usage of bacon is your imagination.

In Canada, we’re pretty famous for our back bacon, made from the boneless pork loin, while the Italians are known for Pancetta, Prosciutto and Guanciale and, good old side bacon is one of the oldest cuts of meat dating back as far as the 1500’s.

In closing, I’m reminded of a guy I lived with in residence while in University who happened to be Jewish and, … he couldn’t resist this stuff like the rest of us. If his Mama only knew …

Don’t worry Evan, your secret is safe here buddy … 🙂 🙂

That’s it for today Carnivores 🙂 🙂

Thanks for dropping in … Oh, and by the way … you can share this post with your peeps by following my Blog … otherwise, just scroll down to the “share” area below and “click” on any of the buttons and … share away!!  🙂 🙂

Please, stay tuned and … please click “follow” on this page (Carnivore Confidential). You’ll get an email notice every time I write something new. And, … no need to worry about being bombarded with junk … WordPress is VERY responsible.  🙂

Until next time Carnivores, stay hungry and as usual, please like and share my posts on Facebook http://www.facebook.com/carnivoreconfidential

And, follow on Twitter @DougieDee

Buying whole Chicken leg quarters equals BIG value.

 

Greetings Carnivores,

I LOVE chicken. Who doesn’t ??

It’s so versatile and always affordable. And like many other offerings for the dinner table these days, there are ways to make the venerable chicken even MORE affordable.

Buying the whole bird and separating it yourself is often the best way to go but, many times you’ll find Leg quarters (drum, thigh and back attached) on sale and THAT’s when I fill my freezer!

Frozen-Chicken-Leg-Quarters

Ahhh … the whole chicken leg quarter 🙂

First thing I do when I get them home is remove the back bone then, separate the drum from the thigh and lastly I bone out the thigh.

I do this because #1, I want the bones for stock and #2, I love, love, LOVE the thigh and boneless is my FAVOURITE part.

I vacuum seal the drums in meal portions then, do the same with the boneless thighs and toss them into the freezer.

Next, I break the back and thigh bones (to expose the marrow), and throw them into a roasting pan and bake them off for a good hour at 375.

When the bones come out of the oven I scrape all that roasted goodness, fat drippings and all into a pot of salted water with a couple of bay leaves, some carrots, onions and celery and bring it to a boil then simmer, covered for a good hour or more. Next, I strain it all and cool it, skim the fat and freeze the broth for soups and sauces later.

So, let’s recap:

20 Chicken Leg Quarters, backs attached $2.18/kg (0.99/lb) total spent $19.97. About a buck a leg. 🙂

Yield: 20 drums, 20 boneless thighs and 12 cups of beautiful, rich, homemade chicken stock.

20 drums at retail price of $6.49/kg, purchased separately will cost you about $22-$25.00

20 Boneless thighs at retail price of $8.49/kg, will run you about $25.00-$30.00

6 Tetra pac boxes of Chicken stock, around $12.00-$15.00

I think you see where I’m heading with this … the value of the whole chicken leg quarter and DIY can’t be overstated.

That’s it for today Carnivores 🙂 🙂

Thanks for dropping in … Oh, and by the way … you can share this post with your peeps by following my Blog … otherwise, just scroll down to the “share” area below and “click” on any of the buttons and … share away!!  🙂 🙂

Please, stay tuned and … please click “follow” on this page (Carnivore Confidential). You’ll get an email notice every time I write something new. And, … no need to worry about being bombarded with junk … WordPress is VERY responsible.  🙂

Until next time Carnivores, stay hungry and as usual, please like and share my posts on Facebook http://www.facebook.com/carnivoreconfidential

And, follow on Twitter @DougieDee

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Truth about Bone-in VS. Boneless

Greetings Carnivores,

I was at a party the other night and a buddy and I were chatting about … you guessed it, meat. The subject was whether or not to by bone-in or boneless steaks, chops or Roasts.

My Grandmother used to say “the meat is always sweeter closest to the bone” and, there’s been a raging debate for years about whether or not this is more myth than fact.

Mostly myth … sorry Grandma.

Now, having said that … there is some truth to the bone adding a depth of flavour when you are using a “wet” cooking method such as braising in a slow cooker. The flavour in this case comes from the marrow.

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Veal Osso Buco

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Beef Short ribs for Korean BBQ

Osso Buco is a braised Veal shank, cut across the bone, Korean beef short ribs are thinly sliced cross sections of ribs that are cooked low and slow. The meat doesn’t gain much in the flavour department from the actual bone itself but rather, like I said … the marrow. This where the whole idea came from that the bone adds flavour but, it doesn’t.

You may think that Pork side spare ribs and baby back ribs are getting their flavour from the bone but, you’d be mistaken. They get their beautiful porky goodness from the long, low and slow cooking process. This renders all that tough connective tissue, fat and collagen BETWEEN the bones, fall off the bone tender … but the bone doesn’t add much.

When using dry cooking methods such as grilling, frying and baking, the bone adds nothing to the flavour.

So, back to my conversation the other night with my buddy. He was saying he doesn’t like to buy bone-in because you can’t eat the bone and why pay for something you are going to throw away.

Truth but, if you notice bone-in is always cheaper and that’s because if the butcher throws it away, you’ll be paying a much higher price for the boneless by-product.

Look at it this way … if Beef NY Strip Loins are selling for $30.00/kg and Beef Tenderloin is selling for $48.00/kg. why wouldn’t you just buy the T-bone for $25.00/kg?

t-bone-steak-

Behold, the mighty T-Bone

When you cut the bone out, you’ve got your NY Strip AND your Tenderloin and, you only paid $25.00/kg for BOTH!

Even when you factor in the weight of the bone at $25.00/kg … YOU’RE STILL WAY AHEAD OF THE GAME!

Same with bone-in chicken breasts. Boneless breasts are expensive so, buy the bone-in ones (they’re always a good value) and bone them out yourselves. You’ll save money AND you have the bones left over for making stock.

I know I’ve been saying that the bones add very little in the flavour dept. and now, I’m contradicting myself saying use them to make stock but … when you use bones to make stock remember, the flavour comes mostly from the MARROW.

That’s it for today Carnivores 🙂 🙂

Thanks for dropping in … Oh, and by the way … you can share this post with your peeps by following my Blog … otherwise, just scroll down to the “share” area below and “click” on any of the buttons and … share away!!  🙂 🙂

Please, stay tuned and … please click “follow” on this page (Carnivore Confidential). You’ll get an email notice every time I write something new. And, … no need to worry about being bombarded with junk … WordPress is VERY responsible.  🙂

Until next time Carnivores, stay hungry and as usual, please like and share my posts on Facebook http://www.facebook.com/carnivoreconfidential

And, follow on Twitter @DougieDee

Why so Cheeky? The secret behind Beef, Pork and Fish cheeks.

Greetings Carnivores,

Have you ever found yourself in a restaurant and noticed something called Braised Beef Cheeks on the menu? You have probably never even SEEN it on a menu but, IF you do … give it a try.

You will be astounded and probably ask yourself “where has THIS been all my life”???

Cheek meat has largely been overlooked in Western cuisine but, to the rest of the world, particularly South America and Europe, it is a delicacy.

In the farm to plate, nose to tail movement that has been gathering momentum lately, a lot of folks are opening their eyes and minds to this little known (at least around here) meaty morsel.

It comes from the small hollow on either side of the face and, whether it’s Beef, Pork or Halibut for that matter, it really is one of the tastiest cuts on the carcass.

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Italians cure the Pork Cheeks and Jowls and call it Guanciale. Although Pancetta is a common substitute in cooking, it differs from pancetta in it’s flavour profile and overall porkiness.

Now, off you go to the butcher shop and ask for some Beef Cheeks then, Google a recipe for Barbacoa Beef Cheek Tacos

HEAVEN !!

That’s it for today Carnivores … I’m in the middle of a major bathroom renovation and, I need to get back to work.

Thanks for dropping in … Oh, and by the way … you can share this post with your peeps by following my Blog … otherwise, just scroll down to the “share” area below and “click” on any of the buttons and … share away!!  🙂 🙂

Please, stay tuned and … please click “follow” on this page (Carnivore Confidential). You’ll get an email notice every time I write something new. And, … no need to worry about being bombarded with junk … WordPress is VERY responsible.  🙂

Until next time Carnivores, stay hungry and as usual, please like and share my posts on Facebook http://www.facebook.com/carnivoreconfidential

And, follow on Twitter @DougieDee

Scallopini vs Schnitzel vs Cutlet … guess what?

Greetings Carnivores,

I get a LOT of questions on a day-to-day basis … that’s one of the main reasons I started blogging about meat in the first place.  I realized very quickly (I’m kinda sharp that way) 🙂 a LOT of folks have the same questions.

So … my offering for today comes by way of my buddy John, who posted on his blog the other day Music Musings and More his recipe for Schnitzel (or, as he asked Scallopini) … what’s the difference??

Well Carnivores, and Johnny Vinyl … here you go.

Essentially Scallopini, Schnitzel and Cutlets are all the same thing. They are all thin slices of meat, usually pounded with a meat tenderizing mallet or run through a “cube” steak machine. They can be cut from Pork, Beef, Veal, Lamb, Chicken, Turkey, you name it, and are almost always dipped in a combination of flour, egg and bread crumbs then, fried … but not always. Fried that is …

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wiener-schnitzel-rezept-schritt-5-img-20158

The only real difference is geographic and linguistic … in other words, where you come from.  🙂 🙂

The name “Scalopinni” is the Italian interpretation of the French word “Escalope”, “Schnitzel” is Bavarian and the term “Cutlet” comes originally by way of Britain then later, America.

Almost EVERY culture from around the world have their own variation or interpretation of this fabulously delicious meal staple and … they are ALL essentially, the same thing.

20100923-vealschnitz

That’s it for today Carnivores … short and sweet.

Oh and, by the way … you can share this post with your peeps by following my Blog … otherwise, just scroll down to the “share” area below and “click” on the “email” button … that’ll take you to an email page and … share away!!  🙂 🙂

Please, stay tuned and … please click “follow” on this page (Carnivore Confidential). You’ll get an email notice every time I write something new. And, … no need to worry about being bombarded with junk … WordPress is VERY responsible.  🙂

Until next time Carnivores, stay hungry and as usual, please like and share my posts on Facebook http://www.facebook.com/carnivoreconfidential

And, follow on Twitter @DougieDee