Is fish considered meat??

Greetings Carnivores,

Here’s an interesting question I have come across MANY times:

Is fish “meat”?

The answer is actually very simple, … or is it?

I was taught many years ago, ALL muscle IS meat. The body is basically broken down into muscle, fat, sinew and bone. Everything that is a muscle (including the Heart) is considered protein, and therefore … meat.

Simple, right?

Well, “if” all muscle is “meat” then, … the flesh of any fish is almost entirely muscle and therefore a protein (considered to be one of the very best sources of protein) and by the simple definition, must be “meat”, right?

Listen, … I’m going to be “Switzerland” on this one from here on out. I don’t want to upset any particular beliefs so, I just present the following for you to decide:

Catholicism considers fish to be in a separate category because they are not warm blooded mammals, do not reside on land, and breathe air and therefore ok to consume during Lent.

Fair enough.

In culinary terms, fish IS considered to be in a separate category so … is it meat??

I’ll leave it up to you to decide.

Don’t fight, lord knows there’s too much of that in the world these days. 🙂 🙂 🙂

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

Advertisements

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 (well, … actually NEVER is not the right word here because, overcooking in a Sous Vide bath, results in mushiness). The key point here is … the item IN the bath will NEVER exceed the temperature of the vessel it’s being cooked in. There are TONS of cooking tables and time/temp guidelines on the Web … experiment for yourselves.

Here’s the real deal, AWESOME part about cooking Sous vide:

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

 

Shrimp, … U10, 61/70, 31/35 WHAT DOES IT ALL MEAN ???

 

 

Greetings Carnivores,

I’m often asked to explain confusing things and, one of the most often asked and confusing things is Shrimp sizing.

What do the numbers mean? What is the first number and what’s its relationship to the second? What does U10, U12, U15 mean?

The best way to explain it is … they’re sold by weight.

Quite simply, the first and second numbers refer to the average count per pound.

Small, Medium, Large, Jumbo and Colossal are not standardized “terms” so, it’s important to remember that 61/70 means there’s 61 to 70 shrimps per pound (these I would consider salad shrimp) and conversely, 31/35 ( 31 to 35 shrimps per pound) would be a nice size for Cocktail shrimp.

Also, when you see the “U” designation, in this case the “U” stands for “Under” meaning there are “Under “X” number of shrimp per pound”. For example U10 means there are under 10 shrimp per pound and these bad boys are HUGE!!

Shrimp are sold MANY different ways … Fresh, Frozen, Farmed, Wild, Headless, Whole, Cooked, Raw, Shell-less, Deveined  … you get the picture.

Keep in mind that this sizing method only refers to Fresh or Frozen shrimp in their shell on state, with their heads removed. Either veined or deveined … same thing.

Click here for a Shrimp sizing chart, kindly borrowed from the Seafood Wholesalers web site.

There you have it Carnivores … hopefully this explains and demystifies the whole shrimp sizing dilemma for you.

Now, get out there and throw a couple of jumbos on the Barbie.

That’s it for today, please stay tuned and, don’t forget to click “follow Blog via email” (CarnivoreConfidential). You’ll get an email notice every time I write something new … and, I PROMISE … you won’t get bombarded with spam. WordPress is very responsible. :)

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

 

Grain … the big mystery solved (I hope)

Greetings Carnivores,

Grain.

What is it, what does it mean and, why is it important to always slice meat across, or perpendicular to it?

Well, … I guess a good place to start today, would be to have a teeny anatomy lesson.

DON’T RUN AWAY OR STOP READING … I promise I won’t bore you to death but … this stuff is VITALLY important to your end game and that is … the enjoyment your steak or roast … whatever’s on your plate really.

Muscles.

ALL muscle is meat and, ALL meat is made up of tiny bundles of muscle fibers.These muscle fibers are held together in sheaths, and every muscle in every piece of meat is designed to expand and contract to facilitate movement and support.

I promised not to bore you so I won’t get into too much more chatter re: the anatomy of a muscle but, you already know (or at least you should) that it’s important to slice ACROSS the grain and the GRAIN, in this and EVERY case, refers to those bundles of muscle fibers.

Ok, … you should also know by now that it’s REALLY important to let your meat “rest” after it’s been cooked right? For those of you who don’t, click here to read a post I wrote a while ago about resting your cooked meat.

Now that your meat has rested, and you’ve given it a chance reabsorb all those wonderfully delicious juices, you’re wondering “which way does the “grain” run?”

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Image kindly borrowed from Canadian Living Magazine

As you can clearly see in the image above, the piece on the left has been sliced across the grain, and the one on the right has been sliced with it. Never mind the OBVIOUS “sawing” motion in the example on the left (I HATE “sawing”). With a SHARP KNIFE, … PLUNGE and pull back … PLEASE, for the love of GAWD … STOP SAWING when you carve.

Ok, … pet peeve rant over 🙂

Back to the important stuff …

The one sliced “with” the grain will be tough and chewy because you are chewing long, intact fibers, whereas the one sliced “against” (or across) the grain, the long muscle fibers have been cut into much smaller, more chew-able lengths.

download (2)

Kindly borrowed from Men’s Health Magazine

In the photo above you can clearly see the “grain” and the muscle fibers. (And … no “sawing”) 🙂

Like I said before, it doesn’t matter what kind of protein your dealing with … red meat, pork, lamb, veal, poultry, fish … EVERYTHING has muscle fibers and these muscle fibers are represented as “GRAIN”.

You know how cooked fish “flakes” apart? It flakes “with” the grain. You know how cooked chicken breasts “pull” apart in long stringy pieces? You’re pulling the muscles apart “with” the grain.

Get it now?

I hope this little diatribe has helped you to understand the importance of slicing across the grain … if not, I’d be happy to continue this discussion ’til we get it right. 🙂

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

DON’T invite “Sam and Ella” over for dinner … Salmonellosis is NO JOKE !!!

Greetings Carnivores,

This post is answering a question for my beautiful, best friend Lynda who asked me a while ago …

“Why is Salmonella such a huge issue in restaurants?”

Ok so … the short (long) answer is this … restaurants or home kitchens … they’re all the same.

By way of a story (I LOVE telling stories)  … gather around children.

Here we go …

A few years ago, I was working with non-eviscerated turkeys. NASTY job … but, I digress.

Now, I know I have been accused of being long winded so, for your sake I will keep the graphic details short (er) for you.

So, … the shop was selling a LOT of these non-eviscerated  birds at Christmas … and we brought them in and sold them this way, non-eviscerated, head and feet on. Believe it or not, our Asian clientele actually preferred to buy them this way so, that’s the way we sold them. Anyway, the rest of our customers would ask us to ‘clean’ them.

Without going into a lot of nasty detail here, just let me tell you … I’d rather clean a toilet (with my bare hands) than clean a turkey. I don’t have a weak stomach but … it’s just not a very nice job.

And we cleaned HUNDREDS of them!!!

One afternoon after going home for the day, I noticed I wasn’t feeling very well. Thinking I was coming down with a seasonal flu bug, I started pounding the Echanicea and Vitamin C, followed by lots of fluids.

Whatever this “bug” was … it hit me like a sledgehammer. Within a few short hours I was feverish, projectile vomiting like the child from the Exorcist, had CRIPPLING STOMACH PAIN, EXPLOSIVE DIARRHEA and between trips to the bathroom and laying on the floor in a fetal position, … I was crying for my Mommy.

Two days later (I think) , barely able to get to the hospital … I was EXTREMELY  dehydrated, couldn’t keep ANYTHING down and was STILL heading to the bathroom every 5 minutes, even though there was nothing left inside me.

Those blasted Turkeys got me … yup, I had Salmonellosis.

Looking back … I probably didn’t pay close enough attention to how CLEAN my hands were when I sat down to eat my lunch (best guess). Anyway, I lost ten pounds in 4 days.

The best part … because I had reported to the Hospital (not everyone does) AND, because I was a food handler, … I had to supply 3 (THREE) negative stool samples ( to be collected, by me … and sent to public health) before I could return to work.

HUMILIATING !!!!!!

But … there’s a lesson here for ALL of us …

I wrote a post awhile ago dealing with E. coli (click here),  and in keeping with the whole food safety topic, today (as per: my graphic Turkey story) we’re going to deal  with Salmonellosis.

Salmonellosis is an infection caused by the Salmonella bacteria. This is another one of those nasty bugs that is present in the digestive tract of animals and humans and, it causes thousands upon thousands serious illnesses every year resulting in hospitalizations and even deaths. Like E. coli, it is a fecal contamination and … the crazy thing about this one (and many others) is … it’s TOTALLY preventable. With proper cooking procedures And correct hygiene, we shouldn’t have to worry about getting sick this way.

So, as you can see … restaurants or home kitchens, it just doesn’t matter. It’s really that simple.

Make sure you wash your hands, clean and sanitize everything (cutting boards, work surfaces, utensils) between species (poultry/beef/pork/lamb … everything) AND … cook to the proper internal temperatures.

PLEASE be safe people … this stuff is just common sense.

The alternative is … you TOO will get to spend an ENTIRE WEEK getting to REALLY know how your plumbing works (inside and out … if you know what I mean) … 🙂 🙂 🙂

Keep the questions coming in folks, if I can’t answer them, I’ll dig deep and find the answer for you !! 🙂

In the meantime, 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 Canned Lobster bomb … y’all asked for it !!

Greetings Carnivores,

Geeze, Now I’ve gone and done it.

Seems I have dangled a bit of a carrot by mentioning an incident (in my last post) I NARROWLY avoided a few years ago regarding an innocuous can of Lobster meat and, now many of you have asked for the story.

I’ll just cut to the chase.

Lobster meat, for the record is sold a number of different ways but for this tale I am referring to frozen in a can. I know lots of folks have never heard of buying Lobster meat in a can, much less frozen but I assure you, you can (buy it in a can … there, look what you made me do) 🙂

Anyway, canned Lobster is sold one of two ways. Cold pack (meat, frozen in cans), or hot pack (meat, heat processed in cans).

Now that I’ve brought you up to speed, … on with my story.

A few years ago my lovely Marital Equivalent and I were (as George Jefferson would say) “movin’ on up”.

With the purchase of our new home, the horrible drudgery of packing and moving the old one began. Being as I am the resident foodie and household Chef du jour, the kitchen was my task.

While emptying the pantry, imagine my HORROR when I discovered a can of Lobster meat that had SOMEHOW made its way to the very back of the bottom shelf … WHERE IT HAD NOT SEEN THE LIGHT OF DAY SINCE OUR LAST MOVE … 5 or 6 YEARS PRIOR !!!

To say I was surprised to find it there is an understatement because … IT WAS SUPPOSED TO BE FROZEN !! EVEN WORSE … IT WAS A COLD PACK, meaning unlike it’s Tuna or Salmon brethren, it had NOT been heat treated.

Now … when I say HORROR, I mean … I was afraid to touch it. THAT’S BECAUSE THIS ONE POUND CAN OF SUPPOSEDLY FROZEN LOBSTER MEAT … WAS ROUND !!!

Imagine if you will, a bomb tech discovering what he thinks is a deadly, live round, backing, ever-so-gently away from certain grievous bodily harm, like a man coming face to face with a standing Cobra (just like ol’ Harrison Ford in the 1st Indiana Jones Movie).

That was me.

Now, imagine if you will … yours truly dressed in my motorcycle rain gear and wearing a full-face helmet, with gauntlet rubber gloves. (hey, … it was all I could come up with for a HAZMAT suit, should the unthinkable happen inside my house).

I cradled this bulging Lobster bomb in my shaking hands, and walked the slow walk of a Dead-man on his way to the gallows. My lovely Marital Equivalent had already propped open all the doors and gotten outa Dodge, allowing me unimpeded passage outside to safety.

I didn’t want to risk it blowing up in the garbage so I did the next logical thing …

Hey, … I lobbed it down the street.

What happened next was both frightening and hysterical at the same time.

The bomb flew in this huge arc (I needed to be as far away as I could get so I gave it a grenade-like toss). In what seemed like slow motion, this Lobster bomb disintegrated and painted the road with an impressive 20 foot splash radius.

What followed, I THOUGHT I was ready for … not even close. The resulting stench would have knocked a buzzard off a gut wagon.

Epilogue:

This story COULD have had such a catastrophic different ending. Imagine if that thing had exploded INSIDE MY HOUSE !!! We had already sold it … how would we have EVER gotten that stench out.

Seriously friends … I know you’re smiling at the ridiculousness of the image I have just painted but … good GAWD !!

I wiped a bead or two of sweat from my eyes that day.

Now you know the Canned Lobster story.

By way of shameless self promotion, Please check out a blog post I wrote about Lobster last year (the un-exploding kind) called: (click here) 1977, long hair, an overdue road trip, Lobster carnage and … the Bummer.

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

E. coli … now I have your attention.

Greetings Carnivores,

Food safety is the ‘Hot Button’ topic that seems to make sensational headlines somewhere around the world every week. Entire food production systems are frequently suspended or closed completely. The issue of food safety is always front and centre but, it’s important to note it’s NOT always leveled directly at the Meat industry.

In the early 2000’s a number of people in Walkerton Ontario (Canada) became ill and died. When the dust settled, the preliminary investigation revealed the outbreak was due to contaminated city water and NOT infected meat. A collective chill went down the spine of everyone who ever reached for a glass of tap water.

Mad Cow, Listeriosis, Salmonella, Botulism, E. coli, undercooked Poultry, raw eggs, mishandled Seafood, unwashed fruits and vegetables and NOW OUR WATER???

More recently, the XL meat processing plant in Brooks Alberta was the site of the largest meat recall in Canadian history, affecting almost every single retailer large and small, from coast to coast and abroad. The implications were so far reaching, meat was recalled from the four corners of the globe and resulted in the complete closure and ultimate sale of the facility.

Almost makes you afraid to get out of bed.

The purpose for this post is not to strike fear into your hearts but, to hopefully shed some light on this most difficult subject. Education is key to staying healthy and that’s hopefully where I can help.

Of all the food borne illnesses (and there are MANY), today I want to focus on Escherichia coli (E. coli)

What’s important to note here is that this particular type of bacteria naturally occurs in the digestive tracts of humans as well as cattle, poultry and other animals. And for the most part, it’s harmless. Some varieties of this bug on the other hand, can carry genes that allow them to cause disease. The truly nasty variation, known as E. coli 0157; H7 can cause severe stomach cramps, hemorrhagic diarrhea, vomiting and in some cases, kidney failure and even death.

E. coli is a fecal contamination which is easily spread to plants and vegetables through improperly composted manure and water run-off from cattle pastures.  Proper washing of all fruits and veggies is as essential as a good hand washing regimen.

The meat industry however, must be extra vigilant because processing is a common point of contamination during slaughtering. Fecal matter present on the hide at the time of harvesting and the contents of the intestines could potentially mix with the meat. This warm, moist environment then becomes an incubator. This is the reason ground meat is SO susceptible to this type of contamination. If any bacteria are present on the surface of the meat, it then becomes mixed throughout the entire contents of the grind.  Additionally, meat from MANY different animals are ground together resulting in the possibility ONE single animal could contaminate an entire ‘run’ during a shift. The line in a slaughterhouse is routinely shut down for cleaning but, it’s easy to see how one shift could potentially produce thousands and thousands of pounds of contaminated ground beef without knowing.

This is why it’s so vitally important to properly cook your ground meat. Cooking all ground beef and hamburgers thoroughly and, using a good digital read thermometer, will eliminate the organism. I know some of you like to eat your burgers medium but … I caution you … unless you grind it yourself, you’re rolling the illness dice.

Ground beef should always be cooked until a thermometer inserted into several parts of the patty, including the thickest part, reads at least 72 °C (162 °F).

Small tip when cooking ground beef patties: press your thumb into the middle of the patty BEFORE cooking. This will help when the patty swells up and ’rounds’ in the middle and … NEVER press down on the patty!!! That just squeezes all the wonderful juices out.

Similarly, steaks and roasts ‘could’ potentially be contaminated on the surface as well but, any outside contamination would be killed during the cooking process.

The meat industry is adopting preventative measures that include trying to reduce the number of cattle that carry the E. coli 0157; H7 bacteria through vaccines, as well as introducing measures that include the careful removal of the intestines AND a system of steam cleaning, vacuuming and using organic acid sprays on the carcasses BEFORE processing, in an effort to eliminate fecal contamination on the hide.

Keep in mind people … you need to do your part as well. When preparing meat ALWAYS be vigilant when handling cooked and raw products. The two should never be in contact with each other. Clean and sanitize work surfaces paying particular attention to cutting boards and countertops. When using knives or other utensils they must be washed, rinsed and sanitized between uses, paying particular attention to (again) cooked vs. raw product.  And always keep your food out of the temperature danger zone between 4 °C (40 °F) to 60 °C (140 °F) where bacteria can grow quickly. Refrigerate, cook or freeze where and when necessary.

Another thing to keep in mind at this time of the year: unpasteurized fruit juices and ciders are commonly sold through roadside farm stands and Fall Fairs and should be avoided unless first heat treated to kill any possibly harmful bacteria that may be present. The young and elderly are particularly at risk of potentially serious food borne illness from consuming these products.

Ok so, now that I have completely ‘freaked’ you out, you need to know that the meat industry is one of the safest, most regulated, industries and the chance of becoming ill is slim.

BUT bad things CAN and DO happen so, let’s do everything we can to educate ourselves, follow good cleanliness practices including frequent hand washing and always, always cook things properly and observe the temperature ‘danger zone’.

In closing I’d like to stand on a soapbox for a moment, and ask a favour.

I always close my posts with the following paragraph: 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.

I’ve been doing this for almost a year now and, been blessed with a great number of folks who have commented and ‘liked’ what I’ve written but … I’d LOVE to hear from MORE of you !! 🙂

If you enjoy Carnivore Confidential, may I encourage you to please, please consider ‘subscribing’ by simply initiating a WordPress username for yourselves. It only takes a moment of your time and it would mean so much to me to hear from more of you.  If you look at the top of the Carnivore Confidential page you ‘should’ see the word ‘Follow’ … click on that word and it should change to the word ‘Following’ and take you a sign in page for WordPress … add a username and voila … you’ll begin getting email notices every time I post something new. I can see on my ‘Stats’ page that I have folks from ALL over the world reading the posts I write and… I want to hear from YOU! By launching a WordPress username for yourselves, you’ll get notices in your inbox, every time I write a new post and you won’t miss out on a thing.

WordPress is an EXCELLENT site with an iron clad privacy policy and you’ll never get bombarded with unwanted spam or other crap. PROMISE!

Thanks for reading and following and … please come back and comment, ‘like’ and follow my posts though WordPress. I will do my very best to continue to bring you informative, educational and hopefully well written, witty dialogue.

I REALLY appreciate your support.

Stay hungry Carnivores  🙂 🙂