The Butcher’s Guide To Well-Raised Meat On Civil Eats

  • August 14, 2011 8:50 pm

Many thanks to Civil Eats and Tri-City Herald for the wonderful mentions of The Butcher’s Guide to Well-Raised Meat!  Here is an excerpt from the Civil Eats article, but to read the entire posts, click here and here.

“Trials and tribulations aside, this book is mostly a lot of fun. Inquisitive home cooks will love the copious diagrams and charts that dissect all aspects of meat animals and meat cooking. The Applestones make a point of encouraging whole-animal cooking, which means they explain how to cook every cut, especially the lesser-known cuts that require slow, low heat methods.”

Thank You Jeffrey Hollender

  • August 8, 2011 11:00 am

Loving this blog Jeffrey Hollender posted today: If I Wanted Someone To Talk About My Brand It Would Be Alexandra Zissu.

A few highlights:

“If I wanted someone to talk about my brand–especially to moms who own a lion’s share of purchasing power and who vote for change with their wallets (and actions)–it would be Alexandra Zissu.

Alexandra is the author and green living expert par excellence who helped me write Planet Home: Conscious Choices For Cleaning and Greening The World You Care About Most….

Alexandra she has a knack for translating hard to understand sustainability issues and environmental health science into easy, pithy consumer English. She’s passionate about giving people the education and tools to make conscious decisions as they go about their daily routines—and especially about the collective impact this can have. She knows what parents and other eco-interested consumers really want to hear and what they don’t want to hear–drawing on her experience with her own active group of followers via books, articles, blogs, social media, talks, and demonstrations. She also has a deep understanding of the full spectrum of green—from people just getting started to the diehard lifers.

Don’t think that anyone’s going to pull the wool over Alexandra’s eyes. I’ve found her a tough critique of Seventh Generation’s as well as almost every product we reviewed for Planet Home. But that’s exactly what you want. Trust comes from transparency, a balanced perspective on the great, and the not so great. That’s what the best brand ambassador is uniquely able to do. She won’t read from a script, she’ll visit your lab, talk to other customers, do a little bit of her own testing and research, maybe even tell you quietly a few things you might not be so eager to hear….A better brand ambassador you won’t find!”

Read it in full  here.

What You Don’t Know: How To Store Meat Correctly

  • August 2, 2011 8:19 pm

Meat storage isn’t the sexiest of topics, but it sure is useful. So, you’ve gone to the butcher you trust and bought wonderful well-raised meat.  Now that you’re home, you have the challenge of properly storing your purchases.  Follow these excerpted guidelines from The Butcher’s Guide To Well-Raised Meat and you’ll be golden. One thing not to do? Pick up the phone and tell your butcher something smells funny. They’re pretty amazing people but even they cannot smell through the phone. Some of this information was totally news to me when I started reporting the book. What tricks do you have up your sleeve? For freezer guidelines and more, pick up a copy!

In the Fridge

When you get home from the butcher, loosen the wrapping around the meat, except for chicken, and put it on the plate.  Rotate the meat daily to let air flow around it until you use it.  Larger bone-in pieces can be kept the longest; most processed cuts and grind are good only for a few days.

BEEF

Fresh beef will keep in your fridge for

-2 to 10 days if not vacuum-sealed, depending on the cut.  If it has a coating and smells sour, it’s done.  Discard it.

-2 to 3 weeks if vacuum-sealed.  After that, smell check it.

PORK

Fresh pork will keep in your fridge for

-2 to 7 days if not vacuum-sealed.  The more air you give it, the longer it will last.  If it darkens, that’s okay, but if it’s tacky or slimy, throw it out.

-2 to 3 weeks if vacuum-sealed.  After that, smell check it.

LAMB

Fresh lamb will keep in your fridge for

-5 to 7 days if not vacuum-sealed.  If it gets tacky, has a sour smell, or is otherwise clearly not pleasant, you should not be putting it in your mouth.

-2 to 3 weeks if vacuum-sealed.  After that, smell check it.

POULTRY

Fresh poultry will keep in your fridge for

-4 days if not vacuum-sealed.

-10 days if vacuum-sealed.  Give it a rinse under cold, running water and let it sit on a clean plate uncovered for ten minutes.  (It sounds obvious, but do not use soap on any meat product ever.)  After that, if it smells sulfuric or sour, or if it feels tacky, immediately throw it out and clean the plate and your sink with bleach or vinegar.

Loyal readers will know there is no bleach in my house! I use plant-based dish soap and warm soapy water and sometimes vinegar or hydrogen peroxide.

The Butcher’s Guide To Well-Raised Meat in Edible Manhattan

  • July 19, 2011 7:15 pm

Many thanks to Edible Manhattan for mentioning The Butcher’s Guide to Well-Raised Meat in their summer issue!  Love this: “…the book is much more than a manual. Simultaneously irreverent, uproarious and informative, it presents jaw-dropping truths about modern meat, laugh-out-loud explanations of offal, and, yes, stuff-your-mouth recipes for dishes like tongue tacos.” For more, see Edible Manhattan – July, Aug.

Recipe: Lamb Meatballs

  • July 10, 2011 10:19 pm

Everyone has things they do and don’t love to eat. So I’m willing to admit lamb doesn’t do it for me. When writing The Butcher’s Guide To Well-Raised Meat, Jessica Applestone raved about her lamb meatballs (lamb really does it for her) so much we decided to include the recipe (below) in the book. I knew I’d never make them myself, but was looking forward to at least trying them at some point. I got the chance a few weeks ago at an event for the book at The Brooklyn Kitchen. You know what? They were as delicious as Jess said they would be and I don’t even like lamb! Here’s how to make them:

Quick Lamb Meatballs

Ingredients
1     pound ground lamb shoulder
2     garlic cloves, minced
2     tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro (optional)
2     teaspoons harissa (may substitute a mixture of ground cumin, ground chile and smoked paprika)
1     teaspoon kosher salt
1/2   teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Yogurt Sauce (recipe follows)

Directions
Preheat the oven to 350. Combine lamb, garlic, cilantro, harissa, salt and pepper. Roll 1-tablespoon balls and place on a baking sheet. Heat ovenproof pan over medium heat. When pan is hot, add meatballs and sear on all sides, 3 to 5 minutes total. Transfer to the oven and cook the meatballs for 4 to 6 minutes, until the insides are pink and the outsides are golden brown. Transfer to a serving dish and drizzle yogurt sauce over the top.

Yogurt Sauce: Stir together 1 cup plain yogurt, 2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro or mint, 1 teaspoon harissa, a squeeze of lemon juice, salt and freshly ground black pepper.

What You Don’t Know: You Can Afford Well-Raised Meat

  • July 6, 2011 10:03 am

One of my absolute favorite things from The Butcher’s Guide To Well-Raised Meat is where we explain how to afford well-raised meat. So many people lament it can’t be done. I disagree. Here’s how I do it, excerpted from the book. Enjoy!

People often complain that grass-fed and organic meat (and everything else organic) is too expensive, that they can’t afford it, that it’s not for them, or that it’s elitist.  We firmly believe that well-raised meat is for everyone.  If you share any of these concerns, first consider the amount of meat you eat- generally Americans buy and eat too much meat.  You don’t need mountains of sausages or pounds of ground beef to make a sauce.  Reduce portion sizes.  It’s better for you, and it will make well-raised meat affordable.  If you would like to try something like filet but can’t get over the sticker shock, buy 1/4 pound of it and don’t make it the centerpiece of your meal.  Beyond eating less and shrinking portion size, you can also lower costs by buying cheaper cuts instead of rib eyes and strips.  And plan for leftovers – a big roast can be dinner tonight and sandwiches tomorrow.  If you buy smart and cook smart, you can make up the price difference between conventional and pastured meat.  When people say our prices are too high, Jess invites them to throw $50 on the counter and watch her work.  She can get them ten meals for half a bill.  When she first made the claim, I must admit even I didn’t believe her.  But she proved me wrong.

TEN MEALS FOR HALF A BILL

Here is Jessica’s list of ten quick, delicious, easy-to-prepare meals for four.  The meat costs only $50 and change.  If you don’t eat meat every day, that means enough meals for two weeks.

1. Ground Beef (1/2 pound) $3

Beef and Bean Enchiladas

2. Bacon (1/4 pound, or about 3 slices) $3

Collard Green and Black-Eyed Pea Soup

3. More Bacon and Eggs (1/4 pound, or about 3 slices, and 3 eggs) $5

Spaghetti alla Carbonara

4. Sausages (3/4 pound, or 3 sausages) $6

Chinese Broccoli with Sausage and Polenta

5. Chicken Thighs (1 pound) $5

Thai Chicken Stir-fry with Vegetables

6. Pork Stew Meat (1 pound) $8

Quick Pork and Chile Stew with Hominy

7. Stir-fry Beef (1/2 pound) $4.50

Stir-fry Beef with Rice Noodles

8. Whole Chicken (3 to 4 pounds) $12

Roast Chicken

9. Eggs $4

Frittata

10. Roast Chicken Bones $0

Chicken Soup


Q&A: Summer Grilling

  • June 23, 2011 9:43 am

THE QUESTION:

Hi Alexandra,

My family and I love to grill in our backyard all summer long.  If the weather allows it, we’re out there almost every night!  Our old charcoal grill is, well, old and tired, so we’re thinking of purchasing a new one for the season.  We would like it to be as environmentally friendly as possible, especially because we use it so often.  What are your thoughts on the best grills to buy?

Thanks,

Louise

THE ANSWER:

Hi Louise,

Thank you so much for your question, and lucky you to have a backyard for daily grilling and more.  Us city dwellers are very jealous.  This is a hot topic as the days are getting longer, the weather is warmer, and July 4th is fast approaching, but there are a lot of issues to consider before lighting up those coals.  In The Conscious Kitchen I explain the ins and outs of grill use:

No one can deny the allure of an open fire.  Cooking outside makes sense when the weather is warm, but there are a number of things to scrutinize before you grill.  Foodies have long debated the merits of charcoal versus gas.  Gas, a nonrenewable resource, is a convenient and controllable way to cook on an open flame, but where taste is concerned, charcoal always wins.  Environmentally speaking, though, charcoal is worse than gas.  Among other negatives, charcoal promotes deforestation (it is made from trees) and pollutes the air as it burns.  This might not seem like a big deal if you’re the sort who grills once in a blue moon, but think about how much pollution gets collectively released into the air on a day like July 4.  According to an article in the July/August 2005 issue of Sierra magazine, an estimated sixty million barbecues are held on this holiday, during which Americans burn the equivalent of 2,300 acres of forest and release 225,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide into the air.  Research has shown that in areas where people grill often, fatty acids in meat smoke can contribute to hazy skies.  Fat smog!  If you aren’t prepared to give up grilling, it’s good to be aware of the impact it can have on both your health and the environment and to minimize it however you can.

THE LIST: GRILLS

A sliding scale of choices from best to worst:

-Solar cookers (not technically grills) cook outside using nothing but the sun’s energy

-Electric, natural gas, and propane: they burn cleaner and are more efficient than charcoal or wood

-Hybrid grills, using as little natural charcoal or wood as possible

-Natural charcoal and hard wood, using a chimney starter

AVOID: Conventional charcoal, charcoal containing lighter fluid, and lighter fluid in general

I have more on each of those choices, and the nitty gritty on why lighter fluid must always be avoided in the book. And don’t forget about what you’re putting on the grill (i.e. local veggies and well-raised meat), the plates you’re eating off of (preferably reusable), and how you’re cleaning up after dinner (natural cleaners, please).

Who has tried a solar cooker? Curious!

What You Don’t Know: What Butchers See

  • June 21, 2011 8:49 am

Most of us do not have the opportunity to inspect the entire pig or steer or lamb before we buy our loins and shanks, but butchers do–if they’re cutting whole animals and not just selling boxed parts.  There is apparently a lot to learn about how an animal was raised by “reading” a carcass. Doing this informs Joshua and Jessica Applestone about the animals they carve and sell. I was fascinated by listening to both of them describe what they look for and what it means as I helped them write their book. Here is an excerpt from The Butcher’s Guide to Well-Raised Meat about Josh’s experience finding pork he felt comfortable selling at Fleisher’s — and eating after 16 plus years as a vegan.

PASTURED VS. ORGANIC VS. CONVENTIONAL

Conventional supermarket pork comes from animals that have never lived or breathed outside a sterile factory farm, never stepped a hoof on the earth, never rooted in the dirt.  Animals that have been bred to live exclusively in confinement are so scrawny that they would freeze outside anyway.  They’re also so delicate that people entering their confinement operation have to wear masks and shoe covers so the animals don’t get sick(er).  To prevent disease outbreaks and to simulate faster growth, the commercial hog industry is said to add more than 10 million pounds of antibiotics to its feed yearly, which is, by some accounts, up to eight times more than all the antibiotics used to treat human illness in that same time frame.

In addition to the antibiotics, confinement pigs are fed cheap crap.  So it should come as no surprise that their meat tastes like it.  Even if you do the research and know something about how your ham was raised and treated, you won’t see what a butcher sees.  We see, for instance, that pastured pigs have clean glands – they’re almost the same color as the flesh.  Glands are the filters for the body, and they reflect what the animals have been through.  On our pigs , they are pearlescent and clear.  On a conventionally raised pig, those glands are brown to black.  One of our colleagues told us this before we saw it, and we didn’t believe him.  Then one time while I was learning to make charcuterie at someone else’s shop, I ran into a gray/black gland.  It was disgusting.  Often these glands are not removed before the meat is ground or processed.  If well-raised and -fed pastured pork isn’t available near you, USDA organic is absolutely a far safer, better bet than conventional.  Always read labels and ask questions; just because something is certified organic doesn’t mean it’s local or that it has roamed free.


Happy Father’s Day: Make Dad The Perfect Steak

  • June 19, 2011 3:37 pm

This is Fleisher’s perfect steak recipe, directly from The Butcher’s Guide To Well-Raised Meat. Make sure to cook well-raised meat only. You’re welcome!

Unless you pay close attention, grilling is perhaps the quickest way to ruin pastured beef.  It is always leaner than its conventional cousins, requiring a delicate balance of heat and timing, and a lot less latitude as far as cooking times go.  You can’t throw it on the grill and walk away.  Grilling may be sexy, but we beg, we plead, we cajole customers to follow our instructions: pan-sear and finish it in the oven.  Our favorite steak is a dry-aged top sirloin at least 1 1/2 inches think.  With a thinner steak, don’t transfer to the oven.

-Preheat the oven to 300 F

-Bring to room temperature, then salt each side of the steak and let it sit for 5 to 10 minutes before cooking.

-Heat an ovenproof pan (French steel or cast iron is preferred) over high heat until it starts to smoke (oil is not necessary, but add a tablespoon of organic canola oil if you like).

-Sear the steak in the hot pan for 2 minutes per side.  (Never use a fork to turn the steak, use your fingers or tongs.)

-Put a splash of olive oil, a pat of butter, a dollop of bone marrow, or a mixture on top of the steak.

-Transfer the pan to the oven.

-Cook for 4 to 8 minutes to desired doneness (it depends on the steak, so go by internal temperature, not time – we recommend 120 F for a perfect medium-rare).

-Take pan out of the oven, place the steak on a cutting board, and let it rest for 5 minutes.

-Slice and serve.

Enjoy!

The Butcher’s Guide To Well-Raised Meat On TastingTable.com

  • June 15, 2011 1:13 pm

Holy lovely review! Thanks TastingTable.com!

A mini excerpt:

“As we read the new book from butchering power couple Joshua and Jessica Applestone, however, the term [rock star butcher] seemed apropos: The Butcher’s Guide to Well-Raised Meat is at once a political manifesto on the agricultural climate, a memoir and an instructional how-to with lessons on tying roasts and breaking down lambs. Theirs is the philosophy that has spawned a movement of imitators….

….The book is a worthwhile read, providing context for the many practices that have now become ubiquitous phrases on menus; here, such terms as primals and nose-to-tail are explained (and encouraged) through useful recipes and tips.”