Pork Preview

Pork Preview

I’m documenting the final days of these pigs as part of a photo project for my capstone. I know that sounds disgusting, but I

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am trying to be an informed carnivore, and that means gaining an understanding of how the animals we eat are raised, kept, slaughtered, and then butchered. I always think its funny when people who eat meat still get squeamish when confronted with the idea that it was a living being with a tail and tongue (which is delicious, by the way, tongue tacos, omg so good).

This photo was taken during a class taught at MU. These students will examine the skinned bodies of the slaughtered pigs next week. I will be at the slaughtering tomorrow morning with my camera, 8am sharp.

I will probably just write about the experience, as I’m not quite sure what to expect of myself. I pass out at the sight of my own blood, but not others’, so I should be ok in that sense, but emotionally, it should be a trip, to say the least. I will refrain from posting grotesque and gruesome photos of the process on this blog. This is not the place for that kind of discussion, and I feel the meaning and context would be lost. Also, just to clarify, I am not doing this to expose some great cruelty, I feel these animals have been treated quite well, considering the circumstances.

pork preview 2

Cook a Perfect Ribeye for Valentine’s Day

Brittany mentioned that besides chocolate of course, a perfectly cooked steak is quite romantic.  I have to agree, I don’t know if the color of the pink juicy cut of beef does it, seared just enough to give it flavor, or the little bit of crimson that flows out when you rested it 5 minutes after taking it off grill/broiler.  Personally, I think its a crime and waste of good meat to cook it anything beyond medium.  I’ve only had food poisoning twice in my life (thanks, Costa Rica) and I undercook food way too often, so I say let it be rare.

costa rica steak

So to cook a steak without a grill, first lets start with the cut.  My personal favorite is the ribeye cause in addition to all the fatty flavor you get a little piece of tenderloin on the side, its a nice surprise.  Now, I should point out that the fat in ribeye should be marbled.  If you know this already, great, if you don’t, marbling is when fat is equally dispersed throughout the muscle, like little white specks and fibers.  The more of this there is, the more it melts into the fibers of muscle when cooking, enhancing the flavor and mouthfeel (god, i love that word).

But not everyone likes ribeye, I get that.  A NY strip cut also works just fine, maybe more tender, but I feel has less flavor, and if you can’t tell, thats kinda what we’re all about here.  Also, don’t just pick up a pack of meat from the grocery store thats vaccuum sealed, or bright, food-dye red.  You want the meat to look natural, not feel slimy, it should be somewhat tacky, a natural red color (brown means it’s starting to go) and not smell foul in any way.  If you don’t live near a butcher, go to the grocery store deli at least, but I would HIGHLY RECOMMEND the Mizzou Meat Market.  It’s where we buy all our meat. It’s locally raised, locally slaughtered, and hung for 21 days.

Many of you are probably asking why that’s important.  First off, its respectful to cows and the environment to not have to truck the meat across the country, second, it’s promoting local food.  As for the hanging, I’m not going to go into the details, but the longer meat hangs, (preferably two weeks, but three to four is better), the better it tastes, just believe me on that.  I can almost guarantee every piece of meat you’ve bought from the grocery store has not been hung, and if it says aged “for up to” a certain number of days, it probably means aged in the packaging.  The sheer economics of it make it much cheaper to just butcher it up and not waste the time.  Hence, why we love butchers.  If you want to learn much more about all this, I also highly recommend
The River Cottage Meat Bookby Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall.  It’s a fantastic read and insight into the world of meat, and where I learned most of this information first.

Anyway, on to the recipe.  This is for cooking indoors, as I find it keeps the flavor of the steak natural, and gives an even distribution of searing, not charring (some people hate the taste of char, and find it bitter).  If you must cook your steak on a grill, the instructions are almost identical, you just won’t use a pan.

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Best Naan Bread Yet

I love carbs of all kinds, but Indian naan has to be one of my favorites. Last year my mom and I went on a naan baking binge, trying to find the right recipe and technique. There is quite a lot of variation. Some call for yeast, others just use plain yogurt. Some are baked, some cooked in a pan on the stove. My mom and I had lots of good bread, but nothing quite like the naan served in Indian restaurants.

Naan

Finally I found something that compared. This is a yeast recipe, and though naan is meant to be baked in a high-heat tandoor oven, I prefer to make it on the stovetop because it’s easier to flip. Ghee is a clarified butter that you can get from some markets or make yourself by simmering butter until all the water evaporates and you can separate the fat from the milk solids. I used simple melted butter, and that was just fine.


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An Introduction to My Love of Beer

I

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don’t claim to be a beer expert, but man do I love a good brew. Microbreweries around the US tend to make seasonal offerings that I strive to find and try whenever I’m at the grocery or liquor store. Granted, my budget is that of a student, but I do my best. (I’m currently at around 120 different six packs, see my “beer wall” further down).

If you’ve never tried a seasonal, you’re missing out. Most good local bars will feature at least one or two seasonals from their favorite brewery. Around Columbia, expect to see the latest Schlafly, Boulevard, or New Belgium, and of course Flat Branch rotates their own selections.

Trying new beer is risky, but it’s not too dissimilar from trying new food. If someone tells you it’s good, you sometimes just gotta believe them. And trust me, I’ve spent good money on beers I’ve tried and regretted, but more often than not, I’ve been extremely happy with the learning process.

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Tortilla Soup

I know I?m late to the game, but soup is my new make-it-up-as-you-go-along meal. My mom didn’t make many soups when I was growing up, so maybe that?s why I never realized how easy they can be. But to think, without a recipe you can turn a pot of tap water into something this delicious…

Tortilla Soup

I made my own shortcut version of stock based on my memories of watching Ina Garten. I didn?t have three whole chickens as she requires, but filled the soup pot with water, added four frozen chicken tenderloins (something on the bone would surely be better), a carrot, some celery, a few unpeeled shallots, cabbage leaves, dried rosemary and lots of salt and pepper. Knowing this would be tortilla soup, I tossed in the stems of a bunch of cilantro, which would have gone in the trash otherwise. The shallots worked well since I was out of garlic (kitchen blasphemy, I know).


After an hour, I strained the broth, saving and chopping the chicken, carrots and celery stalks after throwing out the rest of the mush. From there I added stewed tomatoes, corn and anything else that seemed right in tortilla soup: oregano, cumin, chili powder, lime juice…


It would be good with black beans, zucchini, bell pepper, chilies and anything else you can think of. I know I’ll be improvising more soups in the future, and you should too.


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