Sunday, April 29, 2007

The Five Best Things You Can Do With Meat Ever!

Get your minds out of the gutter, people. This post refers to removed pieces of animal, not metaphorical chunks of anatomy.

I am aware that some people do not eat meat, and I am also aware that those people believe they are all going to some type of sustenance-related heaven where they meet Oprah or something. It's been awhile since I updated my subscription to Veg!, so my knowledge of your cult is a little vague. Regardless, I should mention that eating meat in no way makes one superior to the chlorophyll swillers of Earth and that eating of meat has nothing to do with masculinity.

Regardless of my respect for those who do not partake of animalia, I am staunchly embroiled in the hobby of improvisational carnage related culinology. No need to run that sentence by, it means I like to cook meat. Further, I probably cook better than most of humanity and feel I should help out those less fortunate.

Anyway, I am starting this post up right, the order is 1-5, the subject is carne:

1. Braised to Perfection

Rub it with olive oil, salt (not too much), pepper, sage, a touch of cumin, and chile caribe. Sear it on six sides in a hot pan. Deglaze with a 50/50 combination of broth and bourbon, and for the love of God use the cheap stuff (cheap broth, not cheap bourbon). You should probably first drink some of the bourbon to make sure it's still good and hasn't spoiled. After you've scraped all the vulcanized goodness from the bottom of the pan, braise (fancy word for simmer) the meat and a good selection of carrots and onion in the liquid until the meat is tender. The liquid will reduce into a savory bourbon candy glaze coating the vegetables and meat. Note that chicken broth should be used with poultry or pork.

I have cooked just about every chunk of meat I can think of from one of those creepy lumps of deboned turkey to elk ribeye with this method and it always turns out somewhere between "really damn good" and "one night with Keira if she put on twenty pounds."

Caution should be used in selecting guests when this is on the menu. I conceived of this dish as an easy date meal for those occasions I decide to treat a romantic interest to a cooked meal instead of a purchased one. I tried it out on a casual fling figuring it would be safe, but became increasingly alarmed as she named our future children after assassinated presidents. I mean, the history nerd thing kind of got me horny, but the leachy infringement on my future of single living gave me the heebies.

Note: Do not let dinner guests smear you with the bourbon glaze while it is still hot, they will burn their tongue.

-So Casey has a lot more cooking knowledge than I would have guessed. I mean, I figured he could kill animals with guns, arrows, his bare hands...whatever. And I assumed that meant his killing would be followed by some kind of "roasting over a spit." Casey has that whole, "I could have been an Eagle Scout but they kicked me out for burning down a tent" thing going on. So who knew he was a pseudo-chef?

2. Only flip it once, and make sure it bleeds

If you have ever accurately cooked a steak, you immediately knew where I was going with this after reading my title. As a drunken friend once declared in a crowded restaurant - "Holding a raw steak is amazing." Cooking a steak is a subtle art form.

You have to begin my marinating the meat in some kind of concoction. If you only use something pre-made and out of a bottle you are cheating. I recommend using your favorite brand of Worcestershire sauce, a healthy dose of season salt, and a good bit of steak seasoning. Let the raw steaks sit in that for about a half hour (longer is fine too), and be sure to get both sides covered.

After the marinating, throw the steaks on a grill (or put them in the oven if you live in an this case I suggest a pre-heat of 325 degrees), and cook them approximately 7 minutes on each side.

Only. Flip. Them. Once.

Will the steaks be bad if you flip them twice or more? No. But you will be. This is an age old art form that should be respected.

If you have done your job successfully the steak will bleed a little when you cut into it. If it doesn't bleed you have ruined a perfectly good steak.

If you don't like my directions you can follow the wisdom of my good friend Chuck : Walk the cow through a warm room and start cutting.

-Absolutely. The only way to cook a steak is somewhere between mooing and vociferously objecting to being cooked. I can say that anymore, I forgo the marinating, but I still appreciate when others do so. I also agree that buying marinade is like paying for a massage. You may end up with something OK, but extraordinary pleasure is a reach exceeded by monetary grasp.

I would argue for preheating to 400, but that is subjective opinion.

3. Campfire Perfection

Most of my enjoyment of the fine art of campfire cooking probably has to do with the fact that by the time dinner rolls around I am figgity-fucked-up. If you do not understand gettin' figgity (yo!) out in the woods, I probably would not associate with you. This is because you suck.

Back in my golden god era, which most archaeologists agree occurred throughout most of the early 2000's, I camped out as often as possible. I would write something here about camping being an escape from California, but all my writing on the Golden State descends into vitriolic scatology with some haste. Point is, take a chunk of something red, any chunk really, slice it into one inch sections, slather one side in honey, one side in Wild Turkey, roll the fat edges in some salt and black pepper (garlic powder for game meat). Lots of black pepper. Throw that shit over a fire (I usually take the grill mesh out of an old BBQ with me camping), and wait just until you see the fat, sealed with the pepper, start to bubble. Your meat, of which I prefer cow elk, is done. At least done enough. That shit is good. Especially if your camping with me since 1) we are already drunk 2) I've already broke out the harmonica and guitar/mandolin/banjo and the Bob Marley. Things are good when you have music, food, and serenity.

Serve steak on a stick. Make out in the tent. Wake up hungover and mountain bike. You are a badass.

-Mmmmm, steak on a stick. And don't let anyone call it "satay" neither. If I enjoyed camping I am sure this type of thing would be my highlight. Unfortunately, I was raised "wussy" with the idea that "camping is pretending you don't have a bed."

4. Jerk it out

If you are looking for specifics on how to turn beef into jerky you are going to be disappointed. I am sure I could look it up, but I actually prefer to have this dried salty goodness remain a mystery, because there is some chance that the "mysterious quality" of jerky is part of what makes it delicious.

Beef Jerky is the ultimate snack. You can take on any type of trip, it would survive a nuclear bomb, and it involves copious amounts of salt and meat. And, aside from all of the sodium, you can get some great protein from a snack of beef jerky which is more than I can say for my tube of Pringles. The truth be told, I will eat anything that is in jerky form. Chicken? Yup. Pig? Pig is great. Alligator? Tried that too - tastes like chicken. If you have ever avoided jerky for any type of aesthetic reason I encourage you to push through it, pay your money, and enjoy the salty-goodness. Just make sure you keep yourself hydrated.

-GSR, jerky rates right up their with smoking in my pantheon of meat-related deity. Covered in salt, loaded with protein, no fat to speak of. This stuff and a good stout has been proven by scientists* to be the best workout recovery combination possible. I do wish the jerky makers of the world would back off a little with the "lemon-grass teriyaki" and "mandarin-creole BBQ" nonsense. It is meat that is dried, fancying it up accomplishes nothing.

The last entry here will be for all of you to decide. I would like to see something along the lines of bacon, or sausage, and don't forget to be all the food snob you can be. I should mention here, that several preparations of meat came close to my favorites including the Buried In The Ground With Hot Rocks method and the very pleasant Smokehouse process.

Have fun kids, and stay away from the tofu, it lowers sperm count.

*I routinely hear this from the scientists I keep as friends. They may be geologists and hydrologists, but I assume they have at least some knowledge of physiology. Don't argue with science!


Anonymous said...

even as a new vegan, i'm surprised by the snideness with which indiscriminate omnivores apparently cover up for themselves the unseen machine producing meat for their kitchens. i don't oppose the killing of animals. i'm only vegan because i finally stopped actively ignoring the systematic cruelty of the typical factory farm, and haven't yet felt the need to find replacement meat from suppliers who treat animals with respect, from birth to slaughter.

given the rampant cruelty toward food animals, your naming the avoidance of this cruelty a "cult" takes inanity to art gallery status. i hope you'll stop to think honestly about the switchover between what you consider acceptable treatment of animals in your presence, and what you hire people to do to them away from it. as an animal lover and meat addict, striving to live honestly, i finally was unable to accept what i was paying people to do.

hunting well (clean shots, no untracked wounded after rare blunders) is the pristine method for eating meat ethically. after that, there are many farms in the US that you can visit and buy meat directly from after certifying the animals aren't treated cruelly. most americans continue to avoid these options, while trumpeting even more loudly a sham pride in their lazy accounting.

maybe you get meat ethically. i don't know. sounds to me though that you've missed the real dividing subject here, which is how one treats animals while they're alive.

Casey said...

I haven't seen you comment before, so I'm assuming you're not familiar with our methods of narrative. Previously we have asserted that Rocky IV and the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band won the cold war and that America is responsible for the five best books ever written. I'm pretty sure neither I nor GSR, though he will have to chime in, believe that vegans believe that their like-believers will find a home for the faithful presided over by Oprah. (WARNING: joke follows)I think it's actually that smarmy guy from Extreme Makeover: Home Edition, but like I said, greenies confuse me.

Taking what we say too seriously is not advised.

On the other hand, you are right about the mistreatment of animals in the food mills of the world. I much prefer the clean kill, tracking wounded animals, etc. thus the references to game meat preperation and numerous instances of elk.

(WARNING: Do not take the following seriously)

My real reason for being an omnivore, however is the simple fact that having eaten the diverse animals that I have, frugivore or herbivores definately taste better than meat eaters. I would like to know that given me and you crashed in the Andies and we were both wounded, I could effectively argue that everyone should eat you as opposed to me since you would undoubtedly be more tender and tasty.

Welcome to the site, seriously, feel free to stick around.

Claven said...

Tasty Piggy - I live in freaking San Francisco. I WISH I could find unethical meat.

As to the post, I can recommend trying salmon jerky as well. Extra points here given its potential as bear bait. My birthday meal was a carne asada enchilada casarole-type thing cooked in a dutch oven covered by mesquite coals on a beach in Baja. VERY good times.

You can call me, 'Sir' said...

My '5' was going to be "Lure women to their doom", but you sort of covered that in 'Braised to Perfection'. I'm a long-time cook and have found that alcoholic sauces accompanying things that formerly moo-ed, clucked, gobbled, or oinked are the key that seems to open even the most tightly locked heart. An extra hundred points if you can yell 'OPA', all Greek-like, while successfully controlling an inferno from the pan while burning off the excess alcohol.

So, my #5: Smoked salmon.

Move to Alaska, catch ones that weigh ~60-90 pounds, slow-smoke both fillets for about a week, eat smoked salmon on pretty much everything and weep tears of joy.

Airam said...

I stopped reading after the first sentence.


Girl on the Verge said...

I'm going to have to go with bacon. I mean if stranded on a desert island and I could only have 1 food type it would be bacon (or potatoes if I could figure out how to distill vodka from them). Bacon goes with everything. Bacon makes me happy. I once got into a passionate argument at a party about which is better sausage or bacon, you'd of thought we were debating the existence of god or something. There are two schools apparently, mine is the school of bacon. Can I go camping with ya'll next time, mmmm meat on a stick. I'll bring the 40 ozers yo.

Casey said...

Sir, you have touched on an important point. When deglazing with spiritous fluid, use a gas stove and stand slightly back. A girl once fell out of her clothes in fright when my balsamic vinger solution flared hgih to the ceiling. And fresh smoked salmon. I don't know, I love it.

I refuse to acknowledge Claven's submission as I am insanely jealous.

I'm assuming we have a vegitarian among us, but it must be mentioned that "bacon makes me happy" should be some form of slogan. It reminds me of the marital advice my uncle imparted to me with his hands in the flap of his overalls:

"There ain't nothing sexier'n a that woman smells of fresh cooked bacon."

Lord Chimmy said...

You seem to have covered all the great meat groups. The only one I could add is: raw beef.

Eating raw beef sounds like a bad idea, but if you want to live on the edge then you should give it a try.

I was introduced to raw beef by one of my old bosses (aka, a Chinese dude). He brought some to work one day and suggested that I give it a try. I did...and it was awesome. Asian cultures eat a lot of raw meat.

I'm sure there are a lot of recipes on the net, so have at it if you feel adventurous. The trick is in the marinade. All I can say is it is quite tasty when done right. And, eating raw meat is pretty damn manly to boot.

Grad School Reject said...

Airam - My apologies. We will write some porn for you sometime soon ;)

Chimmy - My wife has told me such tales of the delicious raw red meat. I am intrigued.

Jill said...

Yes, few things beat raw meat.

That sounds like it sounds, doesn't it?

I love you guys. One or both of you makes me laugh out loud not only every post, but every day of my life recently. And that's something I can't put a price tag on.

Sorry, I'm feeling all girly and sentimental all of a sudden.

Let's talk about bacon now.

heather said...

*lqtm* jill, you did that on purpose didn't you? ;-)
other than to simply grill w/ olive oil, basil and salt, slighty pounded chicken breast. slice and serve on fresh spinach. there isn't anything to be added.

Eve said...

What about roast chicken? It's so good, you can stuff it with, well, stuffing, and there are often leftovers, which you can make into a sandwich and soup. I mean, it doesn't bleed when you cut into it, but still.

mysterygirl! said...

Ba-con! Ba-con! Ba-con!

Megarita said...

I think I swooned during this post. I do love a good beef tenderloin. I'm also a huge roast beef fan--again, I enjoy a redness in my roast. Some lovely potatoes and asparagus and some early peas with that? BLISS.

The bacon for me reaches its apex when I'm camping, which is when I bring basically a pig's worth and wrap everything in it before cooking it. And then have it for breakfast. Damn, I need a moment.

And although I found saltypig's comment somewhat offputting, the line "takes inanity to art gallery status" is now a part of my vocabulary.

Casey said...

That's funny, that was my favorite part of his comment as well.

We did forget that bacon could conceivably be wrapped around any of the meats so far. In fact, that stuffed chicken breast could be stuffed with bacon. And wrapped with bacon.

Momentary Academic said...

Wait after reading the comments, I'm confused.

I do love anything grilled. Bring on the summer!

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