May 8, 2012

Pulled Lamb Tacos

Lamb. It’s the quintessential spring food, isn’t it? A sign of new life and beginnings. The promise of flowers and rain and sunshine. Well, this is kind of the end of spring. It’s also kind of the end of this lamb. But it’s totally the beginning of a new season and a new taco!

Summer is always a time for dreaming and adventuring. For me, this summer will bring a new adventure, one a little bit more ambitious than past adventures. It’s grown-up hour in here. Which always makes me feel like I need glasses and a nice blazer. Aren’t those the signs of being mature and business-y? Even if you’re wearing your blazer with jean shorts and cowboy boots? I think the hallmark feature of being business-y is not turning the word business into an adjective. I don’t think I’m there yet.

What are your dreams and adventures for the summer?

My dreams are about this lamb. This lamb came from the rancher who was featured on last week’s post over at JH Grassfed. So, if you’re local you should catch up with some of this lamb. If you’re not, you should make these tacos for… Siete de Mayo? No, not a thing? We’re a little behind over here because we have some news. Some big news that I’ll let you in on later this week. News that benefits me, you, and your belly.

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April 30, 2012

How to Find Local Meat

When was the last time you went for a drive outside the city and didn’t see a herd of cattle? Whether you’re in New York City or Kansas City there are cows all around you. Brown ones, black ones, grey ones. Big ones, little ones. And if you’ve seen them, that’s good, because it means your dinner is just around the corner. And that’s the way we like it here. It makes our dinner just that much tastier.

Local meat always seems a little bit more complicated than local produce, but being a big eater of local cows, lambs, and chickens, I can tell you it’s not too hard once  you know where to look. We can totally navigate these pastures together. I think there are two big hurdles with local, natural meat. One is finding it.  And the second is paying for it. Hopefully, I can address some of these concerns, help you find some local meat, and in the future talk to you about other awesome aspects of what you’re eating. Like knowing if something is grass-fed, or humanely slaughtered, or how to cook underused cuts of meat.

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I want to talk about our heritage in the kitchen. The food from the past that we have kept alive, lost, and then found. The food your great-grandmother cooked. A lot has changed since your great-grandmother cooked a meal at the beginning of the last century. She probably didn’t have a food processor, or a strawberry corer, or a fancy spatula with sparkles. She didn’t have blueberries in January or lettuce in July. She was probably using local ingredients because there wasn’t much else.

And she was probably using the whole animal. Using the whole animal, nose-to-tail eating, whatever name you want to give it, has been a long forgotten tradition until recently, because somewhere along the way it became gross and unsavory. This is a lost tradition in America, though it’s being revived as we speak. In other places and other times, however, offal has been just another piece of meat that you cook, because it’s good. Good to eat, good for you, good for the animal, and good for the earth. And it’s having its renaissance right now, somewhere in a kitchen near you.

I think we should all be a part of that renaissance.

Heart is gateway offal. I don’t really even think of it as offal because unlike its offal counterparts it is a muscle, just like all the other cuts of meat you’re used to eating. It’s just a muscle that did a different job in a different place.  And that’s what is so great about heart, it’s not an organ as much as it is a muscle. Its flavor is rich and round and full. It makes a burger seem decadent, a simple chili seem gourmet, and on its own it exudes a fine dining richness. It’s distinct, but not altogether unfamiliar. It’s still a muscle, still tender, still the same meat you know and love. I think you should get familiar with it.

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