Tag Archives: meat

What? Now We Can’t Eat Rabbits?

Executive chef Payton Curry of Caffe Boa in Tempe, Arizona had a thought: Why not serve rabbit on the menu? Little did they know that it would be a controversial move.

Caffe Boa and Boa Bistro have touched a nerve with their plans to serve a rabbit-based menu on Easter Sunday.

“People just don’t realize what wonderful pets rabbits are,” said Doreen O’Connell, a volunteer at Brambly Hedge Rabbit Rescue in Phoenix.

“They’re just the sweetest pets, so good-natured and funny and loving. And like any pet owner, when you see that on a menu you think how could somebody take my sweet pet and slaughter it and eat it?”

Oh fer cryin’ out loud. No one is taking pets into a restaurant in order to cook them. Let’s just stop this faux outrage. We’ve been eating rabbit for thousands of years now, and I don’t think it’s prudent to stop just because a handful of people have decided that bunnies are too cute to consume. Most farmers I’ve talked to refer to rabbits as pests, not pets. They’re one of the reasons that beagles and basset hounds were bred. Rabbits are little more than rats with long ears and good PR.

At least Chef Curry has a sense of humor.

One message left for him: “What’s next? Santa pot pie for Christmas? The idea of you serving rabbit is disgusting, absurd and in poor taste.”

Curry commented, “We’re actually going to be serving venison on Christmas, in honor of Rudolph, the red-nosed reindeer.

(h/t to my pal Kerry)

Coniglio allo Zafferano (Saffron Rabbit)

More than anything else, this recipe is meant to demonstrate a new toy in my bag…the photographic light tent. Let’s give it up for the light tent! Woot!

Running a food blog requires several talents – writing being the most obvious, but food photography is a close second (Others talents include such things as learning basic server administration and dealing with disrespectful commenters).

Now some of my skills are relatively moderate, and have only modestly increased in skill (I speak, of course, of my writing, which is always long on voice and short on such things as basic spelling and rudimentary grammar). However, my picture taking skills have…well.. just take a look at my first picture on this site way back in January of 2004. Compare that to the one above.

I have to admit, I shed a little tear of joy. Now if I could only start to understand photoshop beyond cropping.

By the way, here’s rabbit recipe from the Abruzzi region of Italy.

  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 4 sprigs of oregano, mince
  • Zest of 1 orange
  • 6 Tbsp olive oil
  • 3 lbs rabbit, cut into 6 or twelve pieces
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Pinch of saffron
  • 1 cup white wine
  • 1 red bell pepper, sliced into thin strips
  • 1 yellow bell pepper, sliced into thin strips
  • 1 green bell pepper, sliced into thin strips
  • 2 small zucchinis, sliced
  • 9 oz. cherry tomatoes
  • 1 bunch basil

In a large bowl, combine garlic, oregano, orange zest and two tablespoons of olive oil. Place rabbit pieces into bowl, and coat with the garlic/oregano paste. Season rabbit with salt and pepper to taste.

Meanwhile, take half of pinch of the saffron and mix into the one cup of white wine.

Heat two more tablespoons of olive oil in a Dutch oven or large stock pot that is over high heat. Brown a piece or two of a rabbit on each side and then set aside. Repeat for each piece. Lower the heat to medium and return all pieces of the rabbit to the pot. Pour in half of the wine. Cover and simmer for 40 minutes.

Meanwhile, sautée the peppers and and zucchini with the two tablespoons of olive oil. Do this for five minutes. Salt and pepper to taste.

After the 40 minutes, add the vegetables and tomatoes to the dutch oven, and pour in the remaining wine. Add the other half of the pich of saffron. Cook for another twenty minutes. Before removing the rabbit, check to see if done.

Serves 4

We Get Letters v.33: The colors of ground beef

From the inbox comes a question from Bill:

Hi Kate.

Happy Birthday. I turned 40 this year too. Sigh.

I had a question that’s been bugging me lately. If you don’t know the answer, maybe one of your readers does.

You know how ground beef is nice and bright red when you first buy it, then it turns sort of grey after a day in the refridgerator? Or, sometimes you buy it, and when you break it apart, it’s red on the outside, but all grey inside?

What does this mean? Is it a sign that the beef has been sitting around too long? Or does it mean nothing?

I’ve also noticed that if I buy the more expensive ground beef from (for example) Creekstone Farms, it is much brighter red than the supermarket stuff. It *looks* more appetizing, and fresher. But is it, or is that just a trick of some kind?

Best Regards,

bill odonnell

Hi Bill! Thanks for the birthday wishes! After a week or so of being forty, I’ve decided that a person is only as old as they want to be, what with time being an illusion and all.

And yes, the above is simply a rationalization. Ahh, rationalizations- they’re better than sex.

Onto your questions about the color of ground beef. It shouldn’t surprise you that the answer to your question lies somewhere in science, specifically in biochemistry.

Fresh meat color depends upon something called myoglobin. Myoglobin is a water-soluble protein that stores oxygen for aerobic metabolism in the muscle. It consists of a protein portion and a nonprotein porphyrin ring with a central iron atom. It’s this iron atom is that concerns us when we want to discuss meat color.

The defining factors of meat color depends upon the oxidation state of the iron and which compounds are attached to the iron portion of the molecule.

Immediately after cutting into beef, it is quite dark – almost a deep purplish-red. As oxygen from the air comes into contact with the exposed meat surfaces it is absorbed and binds to the iron and the iron starts to oxidize and change colors. The surface of the meat blooms as myoglobin is oxygenated. Myoglobin, in an oxygenated state is called oxymyoglobin, and oxymyglobin has a pigment which gives beef its bright cherry red color. The more myglobin in the meat, the brighter color of red. As a general rule of thumb (meaning that there will be exceptions) the extensive myglobin in meat indicates one or two things.

1) The muscle from which the cut of meat was drawn was an active muscle. Remember that myoglobin stores oxygen for aerobic metabolism in the muscle. An inactive muscle would have less myoglobin. So if you have two three year old cows, and one was stuck in a Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations with no room to run around, and the other had access to pasture and was allow to graze and move about, it would be the latter cow that had more myoglobin.

2) Older cows would have more myoglobin than younger cows. And since CAFO’s don’t have older cows, they would not produce bright red cuts of meat.

So yes, a brighter red would, for the most part, indicate a non-CAFO cow and would likely have been treated better and fed better, resulting in a higher quality cut of meat. Now this is a general rule of thumb, and there may be exceptions.

But how does the meat turn brown? That same oxidation process which changed the myoglobin to oxymyoglobin will eventually cause the Myoglobin and oxymyoglobin to lose an electron which turns the pigment to a brown color and yields metmyoglobin.

So essentially brown meat is indicative of meat that has been exposed to a fair amount of oxygen, enough so that the color dominates the overall composition. In fact, myoglobin, oxymyoglobin and metmyoglobin all exist in some ratio or another. The color of the meat simply indicates which one is currently dominating.

One may ask if the oxidation process can be reversed, or at least slowed down. The answer is yes, and in 2004 some meat producers asked the USDA to permit the gassing of meat with Carbon Monoxide, with the idea that the meat producers would be able to sell the older cuts of meat that once looked brown but no longer do due to the Carbon Monoxide. Consumers generally distrust brown meat, and it wouldn’t sell as well. Luckily for us, many meat producers are discontinuing this practice.

But the thing is, the brown meat wasn’t a sign of bad meat, it was a sign that it had enough time to become oxidized to the point where metmyoglobin dominated the beef. It was less “fresh” than the cuts of meat that had only been exposed to oxygen long enogh to let the oxymyoglobin dominate.

In other words, brown meat is not necessarily bad meat. It’s just not fresh meat. The enemy of meat is not color, but time. The darker the brown, the more time it has been been exposed to oxygen, and the closer it’s getting to it’s “use by” date. Meat the color of a latte is likely edible. Meat the color of chocolate? Yeah, I’d pass on that.

So how do you tell if meat has gone bad? Well, if stored properly, the best indicator is the “sell by” date that should be on the label. If stored improperly, smell is a good indicator as well as any green tint that may be in the beef.

Hope this helps!

Honey Garlic Ribs

Is there any food that’s better to come home to than ribs? I think not.

The recipe below calls for two separate types of soy sauce. If you live in an area where little to no distinction between light and darks soy sauces, it’s okay to make due with what you have. Luckily, I happen to live in a city with a decent amount of Asian grocery stores, so this was not an issue on my part.

I wish I had something more pithy to say at this point, but c’mon – It’s ribs! What more needs to be said?

  • 4 lbs spare ribs, not yet cut into individual ribs
  • 4 tablespoons clover honey
  • 4 tablespoons hoisin sauce
  • 2 tablespoon oyster sauce
  • 2 tablespoon light soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoon dark soy sauce
  • 5 garlic cloves, crushed

In a small bowl, make a marinade by combining the honey, hoisin sauce, oyster sauce, the soy sauces, and the garlic.

Place the ribs in a shallow baking dish. Pour the marinade over the ribs. Cover the dish with aluminum foil and place in the refrigerator. Allow to sit for at least two hours, turning over the ribs once or twice.

Pre heat the oven to 350 degrees F. Meanwhile, take a baking sheet and line it with aluminum foil. Place a small rack on the cooking sheet, and then place the ribs upon that rack. Set aside any remaining marinade.

Place the ribs into the oven and roast for 30 minutes. Open the oven and brush the ribs with any remaining marinade. Turn over the ribs and place back into the oven for another 25 minutes.

Remove from oven and allow to sit for five minutes. Cut the ribs into individual pieces and serve.

Serves 4

Pasilla Pepper and Tomato Braised Short Ribs

We never forget our first time. Whether it’s the first time we made a cake, or the first recipe we used in our brand spankin’ new dutch oven, it always seems like the idea of “the first” is a seminal event in whatever task we partake.

Of course, yeah, there’s the other “first time”, but there are children about, so we won’t go there at the moment.

Tara and I invested in a hardcore dutch oven. I’ll be writing more about it later this week, but in the meantime, this was the premiere recipe used in the aforementioned piece of crockery. It’s based off of one found in “The Dutch Oven Cookbook: Recipes for the Best Pot in Your Kitchen” by Sharon Kramis and Julie Kramis-Hearne. I liked how it turned out, with it’s delicious smoky flavor and fall off the bone tenderness, but Tara, never a big fan of anise, had to take a pass. Your mileage may vary.

  • 5 lbs. short ribs, cut into individual pieces
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • 3/4 cup flour
  • 1 dried pasilla pepper
  • 1 Tbsp. Olive Oil
  • 1 Tbsp. Butter
  • 1 medium yellow onion, sliced
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 red peppers, roasted and pureed (canned will do if needed)
  • 1 can (14 oz roughly) tomato sauce
  • 1/2 cup red wine
  • 2 whole star anise
  • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon Chinese five spice powder
  • 2 bay leaves
  • Cilantro, for garnish

Pre-heat your oven to 350 degrees F.

Place skillet over medium high heat.

Salt and pepper the short ribs, and then coat them with flour. Tap off any excess flour and then place them in the skillet, fat side down. Cook until meat starts to get a brwon-rust colored crust, about 2 minutes, and then turn over. Cook for another 2 minutes, and then move to a plate, cover with aluminum foil, and allow to cool.

Rehydrate the dried pepper by pouring boiling water over it and allowing it to sit for five minutes.

Place a dutch oven over medium low heat, and add the olive oil and butter. Allow the butter to melt, and then add the onions and garlic. Add a pinch of salt and allow to cook until onions start to get soft – about 8 – 10 minutes. Add the pureed peppers, pasilla pepper, tomato sauce, red wine, star anise, cinnamon, five-spice powder, and bay leaves. Stir together well and then place in the short ribs, ensuring they are well packed into sauce.

Cover the dutch oven and place into the oven. Cook for two hours.

Serves 6-8

tags technorati : recipes Short Ribs beef

Meat Labels Hope to Lure the Sensitive Carnivore

I know that Whole Foods gets a fair amount of criticism (sometimes rightly so) but can anyone point me to any other supermarket chain that does things like this:

Whole Foods Market is preparing to roll out a line of meat that will carry labels saying animal compassionate, indicating the animals were raised in a humane manner until they were slaughtered.

The grocery chains decision to use the new labels comes as a growing number of retailers are making similar animal-welfare claims on meat and egg packaging, including free farmed, certified humane, cage free and free range.

It’s a solution that allows the animal right folks to educate the masses, yet does so without banning anything.

Let’s hope that these labels actually have some weight to them, unlike the nearly meaningless phrase “Free Range Chickens” found on your egg carton.

Thanks Jack!

Technorati Tags: Whole Foods, Animal Welfare

Another Mad Cow Case found in Canada

Ooof. Canada is starting to look like it has a real problem here.

That’s the eighth case found in the Great White North.

Now let me ask rhetorical question here – What exactly is the probability that Canada has a higher rate of BSE over the United States?

Technorati Tags: BSE, Mad Cow