The Mock Tender … MOCK being the operative word

Greetings Carnivores,

I get asked questions all the time about certain cuts. Where do they come from? How do I cook this? Can I substitute something else for this cut or that cut?

One particular cut I get a LOT of questions about is the “Mock” Tender, AKA “Scotch” Tender.

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The Beef “Mock” or “Scotch” Tender

Well, pull up a chair folks … this is going to be of some interest to you.

This little muscle sits under the Blade bone or Scapula (remember my discussion about the Flat Iron from a few weeks ago?) Well, this one sits on the opposite side of the ridge on the blade bone.

It resembles the tenderloin or Filet (hence, the name) but … that’s where the similarity ends. It is quite tough, not really suitable for grilling or broiling and, like the Flat Iron, it has a thick tendon running through it laterally.

Leave it whole and braise it low and slow, or pop it into a pressure cooker and cook till it falls apart … Mmmm, TACOS. With the help of a sharp knife, you can remove the tendon then pound it with a meat mallet to tenderize it or, run it through a cube steak machine … Mmmmm Chicken Fried steak. You could leave it as-is and cut it for steaks, braise in the cooking liquid of your choice and  serve over a bed of rice or egg noodles. Or finally, you could cut it into cubes, season and prepare as you would with any stew recipe.

So, … there you have it for today Carnivores, short, sweet, very versatile and VERY cheap.

Just remember, like I always say … there are no bad cuts on the carcass … just bad ways of preparing certain cuts.

With the proper care this little muscle deserves, you will find it makes a delicious meal … just don’t cut it 2 inches thick, wrap it in bacon and … expect it to be just like it’s namesake the tenderloin.

You’ll be VERY disappointed … 🙂

I LOVE getting comments and questions so, keep ‘em coming.  🙂

Stay tuned and … please click “follow” at the top of the page (CarnivoreConfidential). You’ll get an email notice every time I write something new.

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

Black Angus Beef … what’s the big deal??

Greetings Carnivores,

I love getting questions and suggestions for Blog topics related to meat and, todays’ comes from an old friend and past co-worker, John (who’s now living the life of a retired man … I’m so jealous) 🙂

His query quite simply was this:

“I think you should write a column about “certified Angus beef” in your blog. To me it’s nothing but a marketing ploy to charge more money. Isn’t it all just about the grading? Or how a steer was fed? Thoughts?”

Well Johnny boy, this is just for you … here goes.

Certified Angus Beef, AKA CAB is one of the most popular beef cattle breeds today but, that wasn’t always the case.

This hornless breed traces it origins back to the Aberdeenshire and Angus regions of Scotland and is known world wide as Abredeen Angus. Interestingly, this breed occurs naturally in two colours, both Red and Black with the Red gene being recessive.

As far as it’s introduction to North America is concerned, back in the late 1800’s four Black bulls were imported, and taken to the Kansas City agricultural fair.

Back in the day, these animals were used to cross breed since the gene associated with being hornless (polled) in the Angus is dominant.

Fast forward a few years from their introduction in Kansas, and the American Aberdeen Angus Association was formed. The governing body at the time decided they were going to concentrate on the Black colour, and only they were recognized as Black Angus. The Red was then relegated to a separate breed, and known as the Red Angus.

Today, both Canada and the UK still recognize the Black and the Red as the same breed and, to me (being a dog lover and owner of many Dobermans over the years) Reds and Blacks are genetically identical, just like my beloved Dobermans who (in case you didn’t know) occur naturally in 4 recognized colours. Black is the dominant gene but, the recessive gene colours are Red, Blue (yes BLUE) and Fawn. Same dog, … different colour … just like the Aberdeen Angus.

Anyway … I digress … again. 🙂

Okay so, back to your query John.

As with all breeds, grading is just one component of the process and like I wrote a while back … it’s completely optional.

Click here for my post re: grading. And, additionally, click here for more info:

As far as todays’ Angus beef well, … back in the late 70’s, the Black Angus Beef Association for purely marketing reasons, decided they wanted to “promote” their breed as being superior, so they created the designation CAB or Certified Angus Beef, and laid out a number of determining factors in order for an animal to “qualify”

What followed, not too long ago (less than 20 years) was the big push to “promote” this breed as being superior, and was first seen in ground beef patties marketed as “Black Angus backyard beef burgers”.

Seeing an opportunity to gouge the public, it wasn’t long before the BIG fast food chains jumped on board. They inflated the prices for these “superior” burgers and realized an overall public acceptance to these as somehow being better than the Plain Jane, run-of-the-mill burger.

The propaganda machine was set in motion and gathering speed.

Today, CAB is widely accepted as being superior but … is it really?

I think not.

Marketing … what an amazingly powerful tool.

Click here for a post I wrote about marketing and how your shopping habits are being “directed” by the retailers and … you don’t even know it.

To my old friend John … I hope this addresses your question buddy … and, I also hope you are enjoying your retirement (I’m still sooooo jealous).

I LOVE getting comments and questions so, keep ‘em coming. 🙂

Stay tuned and … please click “follow” at the top of the page (Carnivore Confidential). You’ll get an email notice every time I write something new.

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

London calling … what EXACTLY is a London Broil ??

 

Greetings Carnivores,

London Broil.

I get asked about it all the time. What is it? Where does it come from? How do you prepare it? What’s with the name?

Well, the short answer is … London Broil means a lot of different things to a lot of different folks and … none of them have ANYTHING to do with London (England, that is).

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Inside Round Steak

Sliced London Broil on a wooden cutting board alongside white handled cutlery

Sliced Inside Round London Broil

In America, it’s actually referred to as a “preparation” rather than a specific cut since both the Flank Steak AND the Inside Round can be used.  As far as the preparation goes, this piece of meat is typically marinated for several hours then roasted or grilled over high heat to achieve a rare to medium rare finished product then, sliced thinly across the grain and usually stacked on a roll for sandwiches.

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Tenderized Inside Round Steak

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Sausage stuffing

 Now … here in Canada, for a “London Broil” we use either a Flank Steak or an Inside Round as well but, the big difference is … we tenderize the piece of meat, either by pounding it or running it through a tenderizer (cube steak machine) then, we a lay big roll of seasoned, pork sausage across it’s width and roll it up.

To facilitate easier slicing (since ground meat doesn’t really like to be “sliced”) the whole ‘roll’ is placed into the freezer for 20 minutes. The finished product is then sliced into 1-2 inch rounds, then either grilled or broiled.

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Let it “set up” in the freezer before trying to slice

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Canadian “version” of the London Broil

 Another variation around here is a “London Broil Loaf” where partially cooked side bacon is placed across the width of the tenderized Flank Steak and seasoned ground Veal is used as the “stuffing”.

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The London Broil “loaf”

 So, as you can see, the term “London Broil” and just what it is, kind of depends on where you live. Either way, you should give both of these a try and let me know what you think.

I LOVE getting comments and questions so, keep ‘em coming. 🙂

Stay tuned and … please click “follow” at the top of the page (Carnivore Confidential). You’ll get an email notice every time I write something new.

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

NOW you’re in for a treat … the Beef Top Blade or Flat Iron Steak.

 

Greetings Carnivores,

As promised last week, today I have another special selection for you … the much maligned and misunderstood, Top Blade Steak AKA the Flat Iron.

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Whole Top Blade Muscle. Note: the heavy “Silver Skin”

This little gem, as the name implies, comes from the blade section of the Beef carcass and is one of two muscles sitting under the Shoulder Blade bone. This bone is sometimes referred to as the “Paddle bone” (indigenous 1st nations people used this bone as a paddle), or the “Seven” bone (when cut across the width of the bone, it resembles the number 7). The other muscle is known as the Mock Tender only because it resembles the fillet, and that’s where the similarity ends.

More about this muscle in a future post but, for now let’s talk about the Flat Iron.

Here in North America, it’s known as the Flat Iron but, in other parts of the world it’s called things like “Butchers Steak” in the UK and, for my Aussie friends down unda, the “Oyster Blade Steak.”

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The transverse line running the length is chewy and needs to be removed. I like to do this BEFORE it’s cut into steaks

When the butcher removes the Top Blade muscle from the bone, he must do a number of things to “clean” it before it’s ready for the grill. You can do this yourself with a sharp knife but, a little skill is needed. There is a heavy “silver skin” or “Bone felt” on the side that’s next to the bone. This does NOT render well during cooking and needs to be removed.

The second REALLY important step, is the removal of the heavy tendon running the horizontal length of the muscle, separating it into two Flat Iron Steaks. I prefer to remove this BEFORE it gets cut into steaks (see photo above) but, I’ve seen it done both ways.

Once these steps are finished, you’re in for a treat.

Since this muscle comes from the shoulder it usually has a significant amount of marbling which as we already know, when cooked, contributes to the wonderful flavour of these little beauties.

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Beautifully marbled texture.

Fire up the grill, season to your taste and cook to a perfect medium rare.

Oh my … “Honey … guess what’s for dinner?”

I hope you’ll give these a try and let me know how you make out … I LOVE getting comments and questions so, keep ‘em coming. 🙂

Stay tuned and … please click “follow” at the top of the page (Carnivore Confidential). You’ll get an email notice every time I write something new.

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

A little love for the mighty Tri Tip AKA Beef Bottom Sirloin.

Greetings Carnivores,

The inspiration for my post today is … dinner! Planning what to make that is, and tonight … Tri Tip on the BBQ. Oh man!

Over the next two posts I want to share with you a couple of little known cuts that rarely get any love: the Tri Tip, AKA bottom Sirloin and, the Flat Iron, AKA the Top Blade steak. They come from completely opposite areas of the beef carcass and, the reason they rarely get any love in this part of the country is … folks just aren’t familiar with them and how to cook them.

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Bottom Sirloin Tri Tip

The Tri tip is IMMENSELY popular in the great State of California and, I wrote about it last year in a post I called (Click here:)  “Tri Tip and the Gospel according to Santa Maria”.

Here in the Canadian landscape however … folks just don’t know what to do with them or where they come from so, they tend to stick to the old stand by  New York Strip loin, Rib Eye, Sirloin and Tenderloin (Fillet).

Trust me … you have to try this cut.

The Tri Tip comes from the Sirloin portion of the carcass and doesn’t do a whole lot of work hence … very tender. Roast or BBQ it over indirect heat (add smoking chips for that extra dimension of flavour) until an internal temp of 128-130 degrees is reached then, remove it from the heat and let it stand under a tin foil tent for 15-20 minutes for a PERFECT medium rare.

Care needs to be taken when slicing because this cut actually has the grain running in a “fan” pattern. When carving, I start by cutting it in half, identifying the direction of the grain then, slicing across it. Identify the direction of the grain in the other half (you’ll see it running a different direction) and slice away. These make absolutely WONDERFUL roasts but … my FAVOURITE thing to do with these bad boys … slice it thin and pile it high on a crusty roll.

MAN, that’s some good eating!

Trip Tip does go on sale from time to time, and when does does … STOCK UP!

Ok, next week: The Flat Iron steak. You won’t be disappointed 🙂

I hope you’ll give these a try and let me know how you make out … I LOVE getting comments and questions so, keep ‘em coming. 🙂

Stay tuned and … please click “follow” at the top of the page (Carnivore Confidential). You’ll get an email notice every time I write something new.

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

Wet heat? Dry heat? Beef Roasts and Steaks 101

Greetings Carnivores,

It’s been a while for me and as such, Cyberspace has seen a significant void in the ‘ol Carnivore confidential blog but, I assure those of you whom have wondered … “Hey ??? Whatever happened to that guy??” Well … I’m ok.

The winter of 2014/15 was particularly tough up here in the Frozen, Great White North of Canada. We installed a new, wood burning, fireplace insert to help subsidize the high cost heating with fossil fuel then, promptly burned our way through 3x as much wood as we thought we might need to sustain us though the cold winter months.

Ah … the learning curve.

Between stoking the fire to keep the biting cold at bay from early December, well into the month of March (just made me want to hibernate), coupled with a SEVERE case of “Writers’ Block” (just couldn’t find anything meaningful to say), AND a major back surgery (I’m now the proud owner of a lower spine, fused with 6 screws and 2 steel rods) Well … like I said it’s been a tough few months.

Having said that, … the Earth has FINALLY turned on its axis, showing its Northern Hemispherical face to the lengthening hours of gloriously warm sunshine, the song birds have returned, and everything around us is waking up from a long winter sleep.

I too am feeling the rebirth of Springtime… even IF my aching, healing back will still not allow me sit in chair and type for very long.

So … let’s get on with it shall we?

Today I’m going to focus on Beef Roasts and steaks but, this discussion applies to Pork, Lamb, Veal wild game … everything.

You’ve heard me say that the amount of work a particular muscle does in life determines how tender it will be on the fork BUT … even a hard working muscle can be rendered fall apart tender with the correct cooking method. Click here:

Which brings us to the topic for today.

Cooking Beef roasts and steaks:

There are two types of cooking: Wet and Dry.

The important thing to remember is … which to use on which particular cut.

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The Butchers Beef Carcass diagram

Dry cooking methods such as BBQ, Oven or Pan can be used successfully on the following cuts from the carcass chart above.

The Rib section:

Bone-in or boneless Rib Roast (Prime Rib, Standing Rib) or steak (including the Tomahawk and Rib eye, sometimes known as the Delmonico).

The Loin section:

Bone-in or boneless Top Loin Roast or steak (Strip loin, AKA New York Strip Loin) T-Bone Roast or steak, Wing Steak, Porterhouse Steak, Tenderloin Roast (Chateaubriand) or steak (Filet Mignon)

The Sirloin Section:

Bone-in or Boneless Top Sirloin Roast or steak, Bottom Sirloin steak.

Ground Beef actually fits into both wet and dry cooking methods since we all know how wonderful a burger on the grill is, as well as a slow cooked pot of Chili or Spaghetti sauce on the stove.

Everything else on the carcass drawing above fits into the wet category of cooking. The reason for this is the hard working nature of the rest of these muscles since they are all used for support and mobility.

The heavy fat and sinew density of these muscle groups means that in order to render them fall apart tender and wonderfully flavourful you must cook them low and slow with moisture and a lid.

I hope this sheds some light on the differences between these two methods of cooking and the particular ways these cuts, whether its a roast or a steak can be prepared.

Remember: There are no bad cuts … just bad ways of cooking certain cuts.

I hope you’ll give these a try and let me know how you make out … I LOVE getting comments and questions so, keep ‘em coming. 🙂

Stay tuned and … please click “follow” at the top of the page (Carnivore Confidential). You’ll get an email notice every time I write something new.

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

The Beef steak … reverse engineered.

Greetings Carnivores,

A few weeks ago my wife and I were blessed with the company of our very dear and old friend Dave. It had been awhile since he’d been here so, we invited him over to break bread with us.

I planned a grand feast for him with the centre piece being a big, fat, juicy Strip Loin, slow cooked in a tepid oven and flash seared to finish on a blistering hot cast iron grill pan.

Sounds weird I know but let me explain and, … you ‘might’ want to try this ‘happy accident’ I stumbled onto a few years ago for yourselves.

Here’s what happened (or so I heard):

A butcher showed up at a friend’s place with a HUGE, 2 1/2 inch thick, full cut Sirloin Steak and planned to use his buddy’s gas BBQ to grill up this behemoth. The grill was fired, the drinking commenced and the monster steak was tucked onto the grill.

More drinking ensued, followed by more drinking (you KNOW how these things can go).

After a while, the chef (guest butcher) noticed that he wasn’t getting any more than about 225 degrees surface temp from the borrowed grill. Enough drinking had taken place that the urgency to eat this tepid looking, massive steak had been replaced by the need to carry on with the party.

As the story goes, … at some point, a digital read thermometer was produced and he was VERY surprised to see the internal temp was a very respectable medium rare, even though the outside was unappealing and rubbery looking.

After searing both sides on the stove in a cracking hot, cast iron grill pan and sliced thinly, the party goers were treated to undoubtedly the best steak they’d ever eaten.

I’ve tried this myself a great number of times and have never ceased to be amazed by how well this method works. It’s almost like reverse engineering or, deconstructing a BBQ method since first, you gently bring your meat to the desired internal temperature … then you add the outside ‘char’ using a cast iron grill pan. Not unlike a (click here:) Sous-Vide method only you’re not ‘holding’ the meat at the desired temperature for a long period of time.

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Start with an awesome steak … your choice. Tonight, I’m using a well marbled New York Strip Loin.

Place it on a grill rack and shove it into a 225 degree F. oven and let it go for ten minutes.

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In a 225 degree oven, bring it to 127 or 128 degrees F. Check the temp OFTEN.

 

After the initial ten minutes, use your thermometer to check your progress. You “should” be around 90 to 100 degrees.

From this point forward, check the temperature OFTEN … one or two minutes will mean the difference between medium and medium well.

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Finish it on a SMOKING HOT cast iron pan to give it a nice sear.

Remove from the pan and let it rest (VERY IMPORTANT !!!)

Voila … a reverse engineered steak … done to perfection.

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Oh man … get ready to taste one AWESOME steak.

The total cook time is around 15 to 20 minutes (results will vary), just remember to check the temp with a GOOD thermometer OFTEN.

The same method can be used on the BBQ as well … just make sure your heat is indirect and monitored OFTEN.

To say that our friend Dave was impressed is an understatement … makes the heart swell up with pride.

I hope you’ll try this and let me know how you made out … I LOVE getting comments and questions so, keep ’em coming. 🙂

Stay tuned and … please click “follow” at the top of the page (Carnivore Confidential). You’ll get an email notice every time I write something new.

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