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

 

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Huerta Los Tamarindos … what a GREAT experience!!

Greetings Carnivores,

As you know by now, I was basking in the warm sunshine of Los Cabos Mexico last week, courtesy of my Spousal equivalent’s hard work. She and her team at GFS, out hustled everyone else in her region and won a sales competition. The reward for winning? An all expense paid trip for her team and their spouses to Los Cabos Mexico, where we joined winning team members from all the other regions across the country. I think there were 44 of us in all.

One of the MANY activities we were involved with, was a trip to visit an Organic Farm/Cooking School/ Restaurant called Huerta Los Tamarindos.

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The view from the terrace looking out over the farm

It’s rather difficult to put into words just how impressive this place was and sadly, some of my photos aren’t of very good quality (hand held smart phone … my bad) so please forgive me but, I hope you get a ‘feel’ for it.

We were picked up by mini bus for a short ride out into the Mexican countryside. Turning off the highway onto a nondescript dirt road, we travelled on what looked like a dry riverbed for a few minutes.

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Our host Enrique Silva

After a short bumpy ride we arrived at Los Tamarindos, where we  were greeted graciously by the owner Enrique Silva and offered a cold glass of (non-alcoholic) Lemongrass Iced Tea … oh my, DELICIOUS!!

This outdoor setting was reminiscent of a village scene in Tuscany, complete with prep-stations all around a couple of big BBQ’s.

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Prep stations ready for volunteers

After an overview of the Certified Organic farm by Enrique, we were split up into groups for various tasks. My group went for a short walk into the fields to harvest wonderful fresh Tomatoes, Onions, Beets and Herbs, then off to our prep-stations to chop and dice. Next, we were moved to another station to learn how to make the perfect Margarita using the freshest ingredients … to say I could have stayed at THIS station all evening is a understatement :). 

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The Carnivore with Enrique Silva

When Enrique asked for a volunteer to man the grill, I happily stepped up.

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Wonderful family-style seating for a FANTASTIC meal … prepared and enjoyed by all of us.

Wine tasting/pairing was followed by dinner, served family style and consisted of baked eggplant rolls with tomato basil sauce, Los Tamarindos salad, grilled local fish, chicken and pork, grilled vegetables, house herbed flat bread and fresh pico de gallo, finished off with heirloom plantain drizzled with Oaxacan chocolate and mango jelly with cheese.

Ya … I know … you’re drooling right??

Our perfect meal was framed against the backdrop of another warm Mexican sunset, just as a full moon rose over the landscape … does it really get any better?

Click here for a link to Huerta Los Tamarindos in San Jose del Cabo. And when planning your next visit to Mexico, include a visit to this wonderful spot … you WON’T be disappointed !!

What a great experience for a crazy foodie!!

Until next time, thanks for reading and following. Please come back and comment, ‘like’ and ‘follow’ my posts through WordPress, Facebook (www.facebook.com/carnivoreconfidential) and Twitter (@DougieDee).  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 🙂 🙂

Smoke Houses, Rib joints, BBQ … and, some REALLY cool roads!

Greetings Carnivores,

Michigan, Ohio, Kentucky, Tennessee, Alabama, North Carolina, Virginia, West Virginia, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and finally, New York.

Our whirlwind motorcycle trip wound it’s way through these great States last week, and surrendered some of the BEST roads I have EVER ridden. Please folks, … no angry comments. Let me explain. I have been riding and travelling by motorcycle for over 45 years, had the honour of living all over and, although there are some pretty spectacular two wheeled AND four wheeled destinations located on our “Left” coast and all over this land, … until last week I thought I’d seen the best. Nope, … move over Rockies AND Sierra Nevada.

In my humble opinion, The Tail of the Dragon (US129), The Great Smoky Mountains and the Blue Ridge Parkway of Tennessee, North Carolina, Virginia and West Virginia are the premier riding roads in North America.

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The world Famous “Tail of the Dragon” US129. 318 curves in 11 miles!!!

Now, … before I make this MORE about the motorcycle and less about the meat, I need to say the Smoke Houses, Rib joints and BBQ we encountered along the way were spectacular.

Sadly, the one place I REALLY wanted to visit was the world famous Rendezvous in none other than Memphis Tennessee  … to my great disappointment, there wasn’t enough time to do everything I wanted. *sigh*

So, what’s a guy to do instead?

Head to Lynchburg TN and visit the place where every drop of Jack Daniels Tennessee sippin’ whiskey sold WORLD WIDE is lovingly, painstakingly, thoughtfully handcrafted, of course.

I highly recommend seeing this place for yourselves … even IF you’re not a Bourbon fan. The history is well worth the tour … and, it’s free!

Now then, … the best BBQ joint we had the great good fortune of ‘stumbling’ onto is in the VERY small town of Monteagle Tennessee,  Jim Oliver’s Smoke House, Restaurant and Trading Post

The Ribs were fall off the bone, smoky delicious and the restaurant/Trading Post was a walk through time.

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Soup, salad bar, main course and sides … I had road food for the following day!!

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The Trading Post was a walk through time

I know it’s a bit off the beaten path but … that’s what brought us there in the first place … a ride, off the beaten path.

There are thousands of Smoke Houses and Rib joints, all over this great country. Follow your noses … you’ll discover some real gems.

Thanks to my fellow Gearheads Wes, Davey Boy and Mikey and to my beautiful better half … next time … you and I, two Harleys and the open, twisty road.

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

Tonight’s dinner/Blog inspiration … the Mighty Pork Shoulder (Boston Butt)

Greetings Carnivores,

Sometimes … no, often … I find myself challenged to write something. Strange, since I could usually talk your ears off about anything meat related.

The problem is, my mind often races while at work … “I’ll chat about this tonight” or, “Hey, that would make a great topic for the Blog.”

Then, reality.

I arrive home exhausted, my two beautiful four-legged Princesses meet me at the door and … it’s ON!! Full-on play time and run for a good hour. Then, … jeeze, where’d the time go???

Today, my Blog inspiration comes from … dinner.

Ok so, last night I took one of my favourites out of the freezer … 1 inch steaks, cut from the mighty pork shoulder butt or Boston Butt.

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The Mighty Pork Shoulder (Boston) Butt

A while ago, I fired up my smoker, got the coals up to temp and added my wood chips (tonight it’s Apple). Then, I placed the Pork steaks on the grill and walked away. This afternoon I’m not really interested in actually ‘cooking’ my steaks … I just want to impart a beautiful wood smoke flavour to them … my Crock Pot slow cooker will do the rest but, I’m getting ahead of myself.

Ok so, back inside I got my Crock Pot rocking with a VERY simple mixture of condensed Cream of Mushroom soup,(2 cans), one tub of Sour Cream (500ml), 1 tbsp of Quick cooking Tapioca (to thicken the whole thing a little bit) and fresh Rosemary (a couple of sprigs, whole).

(Later) After a couple of hours I will remove the pork from the smoker, add it to the Crock Pot, completely cover with the soup/sour cream mixture, set to high, cover, … and go get a drink.

Finish libation, pour another.

(Later) After 3 1/2 hours, I’ll serve this with broad egg noodles, and a side of something green (tonight it’s Broccoli). This beautiful smoky Pork steak will fall apart and literally MELT in my mouth. Don’t forget to spoon the gravy onto the noodles … yum, yum!! This isn’t so much a recipe sharing as it is a fantastic treatment for the beautiful Pork Shoulder butt … go get some, and experiment.

Ladies and Gentlemen, is there anything easier than a meal made in a Crock Pot?

My Marital equivalent will be very happy tonight. 🙂

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

Marinating for tenderness and flavour ? The Sky’s the limit !!

Greetings Carnivores,

Anything can benefit from a marinade whether it’s Fish, Poultry, Beef, Chicken, Wild game, you name it. The reasons for marinating are many though. Marination will build in layers of flavour, add moisture and for tougher cuts, aid in the process of tenderizing. You must keep in mind the ‘Cut’ your using to determine how far you want to go with the process. Let me explain: some marinades have natural tenderizing enzymes like Pineapple and Papaya, others have acids like vinegar and citrus. In addition, an oil (your choice) and a selection of fresh herbs and spices will add to flavour building. There are TONS of recipes out there but, as long as you have the two basics: acid (or enzyme)  and an oil, you can pretty much add ANYTHING else you want to your marinade. Experiment, take notes and have fun with it!!

Remember, the thickness of the cut to be marinated determines how long it should be left in the liquid. For example: over marinating a delicate piece of fish will result in ‘cooking’ it.

Safety is a concern also: always marinate in the fridge so that any nasty bacteria has less than a fighting chance to ruin your day. And, NEVER use the left over marinade for a sauce or basting while cooking. You COULD use it for the basis for a sauce as long as it heated to kill anything harmful that may have been transferred from the raw product to the liquid but, I’m a big fan of reserving a portion of the liquid, untouched by the raw meat instead.

Home use Vacuum storage machines (I use mine ALL THE TIME) will actually ‘pull’ the marinade into the meat, and seriously cut down the amount of time needed to do the job with wonderful results.

One final thought on food safety regarding the ‘vessel’ you use to marinate your meat. I always use glass or plastic (food safe) rather than metal or pottery for marinating because, if there is lead in the vessel your using the acidic component of the liquid will, over time leach out. There are enough things out there waiting in the wings to harm us people, let’s at least control the things we can to keep us and the food we eat safe.

So there you have it, add moisture and flavour to any cut to take your meal to the next level.

Follow me on Twitter @DougieDee, ‘like’ me on Facebook http://www.facebook.com/carnivoreconfidential and please feel free to ‘share’ and re-tweet my posts.

Prime Pork …

Hello Carnivores !!!

When buying Pork Chops, why not ‘try’ the Rib end chop instead of the usual Double Loin or Centre chop (the one that looks like a little ‘T-Bone’ steak).

The ‘Rib’ chop is essentially “PRIME RIB OF PORK”. Pan fry, Barbecue or bake to medium doneness and, don’t worry … todays’ Pork is free from the old rule “Cook it WELL done” (Trichinosis is no longer the issue it was for our parents).

This is also the section of the carcass that yields the Country “Style” ribs. These Rib Loin Chops have been cut thick then sliced through the loin muscle and displayed bone side down to ‘show’ the meatiness of the ‘ribs’. These are WONDERFUL BBQ’ed. Give them a try, you WON’T be disappointed !!

Don’t forget to use a GOOD, DIGITAL MEAT THERMOMETER … remember folks FAT = FLAVOUR so, I KNOW you’re going to love these as much as I do. They’re ALWAYS cheaper, and pack TONS of flavour. You’ll never buy the Centre again.

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