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

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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

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

Marketing … the art of being “Steered”

Greetings Carnivores,

Do you know that big Swedish box store ?? The one adorned with a bright Blue and Yellow paint scheme to honour their national flag ?? You know the one … it starts with an “I” and ends with an “A” with a “K” and an “E” in the middle ??? (spell it out folks, IKEA … which, I’ve come to learn is actually Swedish for divorce!!) 🙂

Kidding aside, if you’ve ever shopped there you’ll know how once you’re inside the “maze”, you’re pretty much FORCED to ‘follow’ the arrows on the floor in order to get out. It doesn’t matter if you pick up the first thing you see, or run in there for light bulbs and a one dollar hot dog in the cafeteria.

Just like cattle being herded, you’re swept along by a ebbing tide of humanity through every corner of the store, and if you try to return to the front door, you’ll find that task about as daunting as a spawning Salmon trying to make it back upstream to the place of his/her birth.

While in University I was fascinated by the work of (click here:) B.F. Skinner, an American psychologist who believed in the idea that human free will was actually an illusion. He believed stimulus and response are the driving factors in human behaviour and as such, people can be manipulated to do something by stimulation and reward.

Do you know that fully 61% of all people who shop at IKEA, ultimately end up leaving with something they did NOT expect to buy?

Of course, I’m not spilling secrets … any 1st year University marketing student knows that. Folks, this is just simply a cold hard truth about retail marketing, and not many marketers do it better than that big, Blue and Yellow Swedish box.

Oh, they ALL do it and believe me, like the big Blue and Yellow Box … some do it MUCH better than others.  Have you ever been into a a big “Club” store, found something you didn’t go in for and, think to yourself … “hmmmm, … I’d like to have that but, I’ll get it later”, only to go back another time, and find it gone for the season with NO reasonable expectation it will return to the sales floor next year.

They keep you guessing all the time and the next thing you know …  WHAMO !! IMPULSE BUY.

The reason displays are CONSTANTLY changing on the retail floor is … yup, you guessed it … to keep you moving through the store. Have you ever wondered why there’s no express line at those big “Club” stores?? The answer, quite simply is …

THEY DON’T WANT YOU TO COME IN FOR A POUND OF BUTTER AND A SNACK SAMPLE!!

When you wander though a store, make no mistake … your buying experience is being ‘directed’.

Staples … what are food “staples”?

Bread, milk and eggs  MAY be what you came in for but … have you noticed the big display of cookies, beside the milk, the chocolate syrup beside the iced cream or the steak spice and BBQ sauce beside the meat counter?

Impulse items.

Vendors pay a HUGE premium to have their products predominantly displayed on the end-cap and forget about the “wall” of merchandise you have to walk past as you first enter the store … THOSE vendors pay HUGE for a slot on the “fence”, and you my friends have to run the “gauntlet”

Anyway … once again I’ve gotten carried away telling a story so I’ll tie this back into meat.

You too are being ‘steered’ (did you like my pun??) through the meat counter, but in a very helpful way. The meat business is exactly the same. Not many people come into a store knowing EXACTLY what they want, and that’s where we come in. There will always be a smiling, helpful butcher. You ask us questions, … we reply with questions of our own. You ask us to make a suggestion, and we start by asking the obvious general questions:

Are you looking for a steak or a roast? Ahhh … a roast.

What type of roast were you looking for? Don’t know ??

Ok,  how were you planning to cook it? Ahhh, … the BBQ.

How many people are you planning to feed? 15?

Ok, how much money would you like to spend? $100.00.

Let’s see …

I usually start with a little education, for example: through the questions I’ve asked and the answers you’ve given, I know you want to roast something on the BBQ. Whether it’s going to be spit roasted or cooked with indirect heat doesn’t matter because, we’ve just ruled out a roast from the Chuck portion of the front quarter. Don’t get me wrong … I LOVE Chuck (Blade, Short Rib, Cross Cut or Arm roasts) … just NOT dry roasted on the BBQ.

More about these in another post to come but for now, Chuck roasts are more suited to long slow cook times that render their fat, sinew and collagen wonderfully soft and chew-able, hence the designation “Pot Roast”.

Before I get a note from my blogging friends (click here:) The Patrons of the Pit, and (click here:) Chef Jeff Parker saying that you CAN actually cook these roasts on the BBQ … you’d just have to do it covered, low and slow.

Alright, … because of the way you want to cook it, I can provide you with suggestions as to what to buy. You have also told me how many people you’re feeding AND how much you’re prepared to spend.

Back to the education part.

Next, I’ll tell you that the tenderness of ANY muscle is ultimately determined by HOW MUCH WORK IT DOES IN LIFE such as: the Loin muscles (Rib, Strip, Tenderloin and Sirloin) are more tender than the Leg muscles (Eye of Round, Outside Round,Inside Round and Sirloin Tip).

The leg muscles will still give you a nice roast but because these muscles are used for support and mobility, they are TOUGHER than the Loin. The loin muscles don’t do much work which equals … a more tender roast.

You can read more on this topic in a post I wrote last year called (Click here:) “To Steak or not to Steak … that is the question”

Now, … you’ve already told me how much you want to spend and with the information I’ve given you, you are in a better position to make an informed decision on what you’d like to buy.

Ask all the questions you like … there are no stupid ones. I’m here to help.

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

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

 

3 Dressed up as a 9 … the Flank steak

Today Ladies and Gentlemen, I’m going to talk about one of the gems of the Beef carcass: The Flank Steak.

Like the Skirt or Hanger steak I spoke of in an earlier post, the Flank is a terriffic little nugget found on either side of the abdomen (belly). There are only two (one on each side) and because of this, it can sometimes be a little pricey but, if you haven’t tried it you should. It’s a wonderfully versatile, long, thin, flat muscle that can be Fried, Barbecued, Baked, Broiled, Braised, used in a Stir-fry or one of my personal favourites, FAJITAS !!!

Growing up I remember my Mom taking a piece of Flank steak, pounding it with a Meat Mallet then rolling it up with a savory bread stuffing and baking it. OH MY GAWD … it was definitely one of my FAVOURITE meals and a memory I will always cherish of my Mom and her GREAT cooking.

This is typically the piece of meat used in making London Broil and is also a staple in Asian and Mexican cooking. This muscle doesn’t do a whole lot of work but, if not treated properly can render poorly when cooked. The key here is to NOT over cook it. You’ll be rewarded with a spectacular meal.  Just remember to cut it ACROSS the grain.

There are TONS of recipes out there for Flank Steak, give it a go for dinner some night and, set an extra plate … I’ll be over at 6!!

Please take a look at one of my FAVOURITE Blogs from and awesome Chef in California (click here) Jeff Parker.

Like me on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/carnivoreconfidential, follow me on Twitter @DougieDee and Share my posts with your friends.

Until next time fellow Carnivores, GOOD EATING !