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 (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

 

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?

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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

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.

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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

 

 

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?”

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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.

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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

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

Fat’s where it’s at !!! Thick cut VS. the fast fry … here’s the skinny.

Greetings Carnivores,

Don’t do it!

PLEASE don’t ask me to cut you a “thinner” steak or chop !!

Unless you’re preparing Rouladen, Schnitzel or Scallopini, you are doing the meat a dreadful disservice by cutting and cooking it so thin.

For starters, it will be almost impossible to cook it ANYTHING but well done, but, … if that’s your Schick, then you might as well just eat shoe leather … bon appetit!

So, … this post is actually more about food science than anything else.  I don’t want to lose or bore you so please, stay with me on this one … I’ll try to move quickly enough so you don’t fall asleep.

Here we go.

Here’s the “science” part:

A number of important changes occur when you put meat to flame. Whether you’re using a smoking hot grill, a cast iron pan, or a low and slow method, it just doesn’t matter and here’s why:

Structurally, proteins are VERY large molecules made up of LONG chains of amino acids. The reason a muscle  is able to contract and relax is the same reason it’s tough and chewy when raw. Believe it or not, when you add heat to this equation you see the fibers denature or …

RELAX !!!

Ahhhhhhhh …your Light Bulb moment has arrived !!!

This is PRECISELY the reason a rubbery, raw piece of meat becomes soft and chew-able when it’s cooked.

Back to the THINNER steak or chop.

Now, we know that adding heat to meat (there … look at me rhyming) denatures the muscle fibers.

So, you ask “why then does it matter if the cut is thick or thin” ???

Here’s the deal … clearly, the process of cooking not only denatures BUT, it also REMOVES moisture so, as you cook a piece of meat, (unless you are using a slow cooker/crock-pot)  you are also REMOVING moisture … remove too much and … VOILA, … shoe leather.

So, … again Carnivores … PLEASE DON’T ASK ME TO CUT IT THINNER FOR YOU.

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