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Archive for the ‘Veal’ Category

Musing about how The Child eats jump-started my writing, especially after we began eating goat at home.  It was the first time we ate goat we prepared ourselves, and the first time we purchased meat directly from a farm.  A positive experience, we were encouraged to search for a regular meat-CSA to join.

Community-Supported Agriculture (CSA) is a food distribution model wherein the consumer and the farmer share the risk and rewards of farming.  Typically a subscription, the consumer pledges a monthly rate for a share of what the farm produces each month.  While it is more common to find fruit and vegetable CSAs, the demand for meat and dairy is on the rise.  Consumers typically seek out CSA food in an attempt to eat local, support small-scale agriculture, or obtain organic products.  They may also supply a greater variety of products, as well as heirloom produce or heritage breeds.

Singing the praises of Godfrey Family Farms is long overdue.  We experimented and signed up for a monthly share at the start of the year.  Having no idea what to expect, we planned to re-evaluate after 6-months.  Honestly, I thought by June our freezer would be bursting, and it would prove to The Spouse that our family was not large enough to justify the 15 pounds of meat each month.  We do not have sufficient square footage for a deep freeze of our own.

But I was wrong.  I love it.

One Saturday morning each month, The Spouse drives to a Home Depot parking lot to fetch our share of the monthly meat.  It runs $100 for approximately 15 pounds of various cuts from various beasts, including fresh eggs.  Rose and Brian Godfrey are remarkable.  They write a blog to keep folks posted about happenings on the farm, and have a Facebook Fan Page as well.  They both have a way with words and wit.  Back in January, I read their post about geese including photos of Thanksgiving…

…looking through the fence at Christmas…

…and I knew these were my kind of people.

Our traditional Easter dinner is rabbit after all, and we call him Thumper.

As it turns out, we consume most of the share each month.  We even purchase extra;  several dozen more eggs, and additional chickens anytime they have them.  We are thrilled when some challenge of farm living means there are extra rabbits, ducks, or veal bones to be had.

The meat CSA has made a profound difference in our diet and our lives. From the very first shipment of duck eggs with a magical double yolk… to guilt-free pastured veal… and a variety of beasts… Yes, it is safe to say I am biased.

To counteract said bias, I will skip the compulsory review of pros (eating local, pastured, and small-scale), and head straight to the cons of any CSA.  But are they really cons?   Seem more like advantages to me.

You get what you get and you don’t throw a fit. My daughter learned this in pre-K, and it is a rule many adults could stand to learn.  When you join most CSAs you do not typically get to place orders.  And if you do it ought be considered a lucky perk worthy of your undying gratitude, not setting an expectation.

We learned how to meal-plan based on what default produce arrived in a box on our doorstep, and this is really no different. So we have tried new things such as guinea fowl, water buffalo, and duck eggs.  Instead of shopping based on a plan, we plan based on the shopping.  One Saturday each month we gather around the cooler to see what Santa brought us while attempting play a game of freezer Tetris with the frozen blocks.

Please remember it is a farm people!  The animals and crops really do not care what your schedule is, much less your menu.  Sometimes the guinea fowl are too much trouble to raise again.  Sometimes the butcher goes on vacation and instead of pork you get glorious water buffalo from the neighbor’s farm.  Sometimes the momma animals turn out to be less than skilled mommas.   And sometimes the hams, sausages, and bacon come cured by someone else.  We have fallen in love with Rose’s recipes, the Italian sausage and brats in particular, and this is not a con for us.  But it may be for some folks.  If you are particular about what cuts, or which beasts, or what sizes you *need* to have, perhaps this isn’t the right purchasing model for you.

Eating nose to tail. A big part of eating sustainably is eating nose to tail. Philosophically, if you are going to show respect for the animal you are consuming, let nothing go to waste. Economically, if you learn to cook the stuff other people do not want, you will have a wide selection of cheap proteins from which to choose.

It was not our intention to pose the chicken as if it were dancing off stage left. *giggle*

I am confident someone is enjoying the extra bits. (Lucky #$%^&*@!)  And even though Godfrey chickens arrive intact from beak to toes, most of the regular shares do not include offal.  When a family of three buys 15 pounds of meat per month, it reduces our trips to the grocery store.  That puts a dent in how many times we pick up braunschweiger or headcheese for lunch, have calf’s liver for dinner, or discover we like new things like veal kidney chops.

I miss my butcher. Well, not a particular butcher per se.  We predominantly shop at Lunardi’s Market, since the Andronico’s near us went out of business (pout).  It is an average-sized traditional grocery store with a meat counter, and a veritable army of butchers.  They appreciate questions and are quick to ask someone if they don’t know the answer.   I have never been ignored or hustled along.  The Child always loves to visit them.  Since infancy, she has been accompanying one of us, helping to pick things out, watching all the action as the butchers break things down, and fascinated by the various meats hanging from the ceiling.

Approaching this calmly as a reality helped her develop comfort and understanding of what lands on her plate.  But we spend less time visiting the local butchers now that our freezer is packed to bursting once each month.

Maybe it is time to figure out where to put the deep-freeze after all?  The Spouse can park his car in the driveway, right?

Okay, maybe not.

Skillet Sausages

Cast iron skillet (optional)
Bratwurst, bockwurst or favorite sausages
Onions, sliced in half, then in half-rings
A favorite beer or hard cider

Brown the sausages and add the onions tucked in around the edges, i.e. don’t just layer them in on top.   Open up a favorite beer to enjoy and share with the skillet.  Every once in a while check to see that things aren’t sticking.  When they do, add some beer and use your tongs to scrape up the brown bits off the bottom of the pan.

Skip the bun, serve with mustard and a side of sauerkraut or coleslaw… or both!

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Veal Kidney Chops

The Child and her dad ran errands all morning while I went to visit a friend a few days ago. I arrived home to lunch on the table, ready to dig in.  I am so lucky!  This particular lunch menu, it turns out, was The Child’s idea.  While standing at the butcher counter ordering a ginormous leg of lamb, The Child perked up and said, “Oooo!  Can we get some kidney chops??”  Apparently this startled even the butcher, and he happily wrapped some up for them to take home.

When my husband is not traveling for work, he does most of the large roast beast sort of cooking.  Hence the ginormous leg of lamb.  But when the Child and I are on our own, I tend to stick with smaller cuts and less mess-inducing techniques.  By keeping the production scale and portions smaller I don’t waste any leftovers either.  We experimented one day after school with some lamb loin chops in the cast iron pan, and they were a hit.  But they weren’t exactly cheap.  Then one fateful day, I saw veal kidney chops for $1.89 per pound.  I have never seen them that inexpensive again.  But from a purely cost savings perspective, the more typical $3 or $4 per pound cost still beats the lamb loin chops hands down.  I got the chops home and thought, “Now what?”

Veal kidney chops are a classical old-world cut.  They hark back to a time when eating sustainably meant eating the whole animal so nothing went to waste, not just concerns about how the animal was raised.  The fat-enclosed kidney sits right along the loin. Typically this used to be left in place, so with each chop cut off the loin there was a little slice of kidney attached.  Current butchering techniques typically separate the kidney from the loin earlier in the process, so modern kidney loin chops have two separate cuts bundled together.

This poses a serious complication when preparing them.  Lobel’s Meat Guide recommends skewering the chop around the slice of kidney before baking, grilling, or broiling.  But even with skewering, my first several attempts resulted in the kidney falling out completely.  The few times the kidney stayed put it was overcooked by the time the chop was ready.

How did I solve this culinary logistics problem??  As with so many other quandaries in life…  the answer is bacon.

Wrapping bacon around the edge before skewering keeps the tiny little chops bundled tightly.  As the chop cooks, it shrink-wraps the kidney chop in bacony goodness.  This helps protect the kidneys from becoming overcooked, and the chops cook more evenly as well.  It worked brilliantly, and The Child liked them so much she saved the kidney for the last perfect bite.  Apparently she now asks the butcher for them herself as well.

Veal Kidney Chops with Roasted Onions and Cauliflower

4 Veal Kidney Chops
One small cauliflower, quartered
One onion, frenched
Olive oil
Salt & Pepper

Preheat oven to 400°F.
Wrap tail end of veal chop around the kidney.
Wrap a standard size slice of bacon around the outside edge and secure with skewers.
Season both sides of chops with salt and pepper.
Slice cauliflower into quarters and cut out the core.
French one onion.
Heat olive oil in a cast iron pan.
Sear chops in hot cast iron pan for 2-3 minutes a side.
Meanwhile toss to coat the onion and cauliflower in olive oil, salt, and pepper.
Add these veggies to the pan after the first flip of the chops.
After searing the second side, finish them in the oven, and let the meat rest before serving.

The cauliflower arriving in our spud boxes has been remarkably tasty but small.  For working with a larger specimen, use large chop-sized chunks in the pan, or roast the entire cauliflower in the oven.   Cut it into florets, toss with seasoning and olive oil, and roast at 400°F for about 25 minutes, turning once or twice.

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