Denuded … what the heck does THAT mean???

Greetings Carnivores,

Todays offering comes once again, from a question I get asked ALL the time.

I was over at my friends’ house for dinner a couple of weeks ago and my buddy asked, “Hey Dougie … can you write a post that explains what “denuded” means?

Well Steveo … here ya go buddy …

If you look up the actual definition of denuded, it doesn’t automatically refer to meat.

It will say something like “without natural or usual covering.” So, this could refer to anything from a bald head, to a spot on your lawn, devoid of grass.

In the case of meat however, … it’s pretty much the same thing.

If all the “natural” fat covering, Silver skin or veins have been removed, then this particular piece of meat is considered to be “denuded.”

Ok so, let’s recap:

Anything labeled as “denuded” when referring to meat in your Butcher’s counter, means that he has removed ALL the “natural” covering. being the fat, sinew, silver skin, veins … EVERYTHING.

Now here’s the part that will probably make you reconsider actually buying that piece of meat … it’s BRUTALLY expensive!

The butcher has taken a fair bit of time to completely “clean” this piece of meat for you AND … he has also incurred a loss in that, he hasn’t sold YOU all that “extra” weight.

So, … guess what? He makes up for his “loss” by charging a LOT more for the denuded piece.

The moral of the story folks is, … buy the whole primal, whether its a Tenderloin, Striploin, Ribeye, Outside round … whatever, and “clean” it yourselves.

The internet is an amazing resource for “how to” videos, and cutting your own meat at home is no exception.

Hopefully one of these days,…  this old, non-tech savvy, butcher will venture into to world of video to help you even further … an old guy can dream right??

To my brother from another mother, Steve … I hope this helped you and, if not … put the beer in the fridge, give me a call, and I’ll be right over to give you a personal lesson.

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!!

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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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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.

beef_export_53

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

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.

diagram

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

To Steak or not to Steak … that’s the question.

Greetings Carnivores,

I’m often asked about Steak and how to treat a tough one. Truth is, there’s no easy answer because Steak is a ‘cut’ and ANYTHING can be a ‘Steak’. And any of them can be rendered ‘tough’ if not handled properly. To understand this you have to remember: there are no bad cuts, just bad ways to handle (cook) certain cuts. Think of it this way; the tenderness of a muscle (and ALL muscle is meat) is determined by how much work it does.

So, the Rib (Prime Rib, Standing Rib, Rib Eye), Loin (NY Strip, T-bone, Club, Wing, Porter House, Filet Mignon), and Sirloin Butt (Top Sirloin, Bottom Sirloin) are all considered to be non hard-working with the tenderloin (Filet) being a truly “floating” muscle that does nothing.

The Shoulder (Blade, Cross Cut, Short Rib) the Hip (Rump, Inside Round, Outside Round, Eye of Round, Sirloin Tip, Knuckle) are all hard-working muscles, used for support and mobility.

Ok so, the non hard-working muscles are tender BUT, most of them lack the heavy connective tissue, (collagen) and fat content necessary to impart flavour. THIS is why a Blade Steak (when cooked properly) has a TON of flavour and (at the extreme opposite ) your Filet Mignon arrives at the table, wrapped in Bacon.

Now, the addition of Bacon (in my opinion) to ANYTHING, improves it in ways that just can’t be measured (hell, I think Bacon Shampoo would be GREAT!!) but, I digress (again).

Expensive cuts in high end restaurants, come wrapped in bacon or served with wonderful sauces and crusts (Blue Cheese and bread crumbs comes to mind)  because these things add FLAVOUR to an otherwise dull (tender, but dull) piece of meat.

Seriously though, connective tissue and fat are essential for imparting flavour because, as they cook (SLOWLY) these wonderful, fibres of connective tissue and fat break down, soften and bathe the meat in FLAVOUR.

Care needs to be taken when cooking these tougher cuts however. You can’t throw them uncovered in a high heat oven or onto the grill, you’ll be very disappointed.

Fear not Carnivores, there are TONS of things you CAN do to help. For example: you could Marinate. This will assist in the tenderizing process as well as adding levels of flavour. You could use a Meat mallet to break down the connective tissue and fibres but, nothing will whip a tough cut into submission like Braising.

Braising simply refers to cooking, with moisture (liquid) and, you can use anything. Water of course is a liquid but why stop there?? Orange juice and Beef LOVE each other (and the citric acid helps tenderize), Red or White Wine are great too (just remember, … if you wouldn’t drink it, DON’T cook with it), how about Beef or Chicken Stock? Beer anyone? Tomato juice? Condensed Cream of Mushroom soup is a HUGE favourite of mine … the sky is the limit, just watch out for added salt (it’s EVERYWHERE!!).

Finally Carnivores, I’m often asked about searing before braising and the answer is: what ever floats your boat. There are food scientists that are ADAMANT about NOT searing because it evaporates surface moisture and, there are Chefs that swear by it saying it adds a wonderful flavour. I have had success both ways.

I’m going to discuss the benefits of Low Temperature cooking in another post but for now, I encourage you to experiment. Let’s face it folks, I’m a Butcher NOT a Chef. BUT, I LOVE to cook and have been using my friends and family for eons as Guinea Pigs.

I’ve discovered some “Happy Accidents” along the way so, I’m only too happy to share what I’ve learned.

admit it ... your mouth is watering

admit it … your mouth is watering

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